In a report published Tuesday 24 March 2015, the Joint Committee on Human Rights welcomes the progress made by the Government in recognising children’s rights in law and policy but says that more still needs to be done.
The Report also points to areas, such as immigration, legal aid and children in custody, where some policy developments have actually worked against the best interests of children, despite the Government’s specific commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) made in December 2010.
The Committee expresses its disappointment that, during the current period of austerity, children – particularly disadvantaged children – have in certain areas suffered disproportionately, and concludes that the Government’s statutory duty to eliminate child poverty by 2020 should be treated as a human rights issue.The Committee concludes that "a UK-wide examination of the impacts of devolution on the protection and promotion of human rights is required after the Election in order to provide reassurance that there is a sufficiently consistent approach to children’s rights across the four countries of the UK, and that the different arrangements which very properly have been adopted in those countries do not reduce the level of protection for children but, where they have increased that protection, rather provide useful best practice for the rest of the UK to follow."
The four countries of the UK already share many practices in common such as joined up working (collaboration and data sharing), early interventions and swifter adoptions.
The Committee might be setting the scene for the possibility that a named person for every child will be seen as best practice.
The four countries are converging in their child protection practices around the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This allows state officials to determine what is in the `best interests` of the child which must be considered when decisions are made.
e.g Northern Ireland
"In 1991 the United Kingdom adopted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This was a further landmark in the development of child care services as it was to influence the forthcoming Children Order (NI) in 1995. The Convention established that children had specific rights in law and that these should be enshrined in legislation."
"The 1995 Order has been described as one of the most significant pieces of social legalisation of the 20th century....(The)1995 Order was to place children's needs and rights in law in an entirely new domain. The focus of the Order was about acknowledging children with individual needs. Some of
these may be universal, others will be specific. The need for children to be listened to and their statements and opinions accepted was now recognised. Greater emphasis was to be placed on collaboration across a wide range of agencies and a partnership with parents."
"There was to be a greater shift towards prevention and family support."
"This philosophy has also influenced the approach towards adoption. The principle of ‘freeing’ older children for adoption has been introduced...."
"One of the major challenges facing adoption services and
the courts today is how to identify children early and enable them to be placed quickly with an adoptive family without compromising the quality of professional considerations about the potential of the birth family to provide their own child with a loving, safe and permanently secure home, or the due process of the legal system."