Managing Risk through Policy and Practice

Risk management and control can be realized within an institution or have its operations done through an external manager. This can be done at different stages within which the risk and the anticipated harm develop before being realized. Risk management can operate and practiced informally or through legislative measures guided by government’s policies. The accuracy of identification, assessment and prediction of risk has been criticized by a group of scholars who argue that such measures are not sincere.The British government applies a diverse approach to risk management which is applicable at agency level, inter-agency level and at multi-agency level. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) made a significant contribution in the development of approaches to risk tolerability that would enhance public protection by combining both qualitative and quantitative risk management aspects. Past cases of human abuse especially against children have contributed significantly in the legislative processes as efforts to prevent future occurrence are put in place (Munro, 1999).In more recent development the death of Victoria Climbie in 2002 and Baby Peter in 2007 elicited intensive inquiries that served as important guide in formulation of policies and practices through which risk and public protection issues should be tackled. In his speech in May 2005, the Prime Minister expressed an alarming observation in the state of risk exposure in the country (Maureen, 2010). The Prime Minister noted that the management of potential risks was forcing the policy makers to act disproportionately towards eliminating the potential risks.This paper evaluates the development of risk and public protection concept through government inquiries and assesses the impact that this had on Britain’s legislation and policy (Maureen, 2010). The paper also critically examines the contribution of inter-agencies on interdisciplinary policies and practices as well as health and social provision that relate to risk and protection in Britain. The paper will put more emphasis on risk child protection as children are the most vulnerable and more susceptible to misuse and risky hazards brought about by the rest of the members of the public upon which they have no ability of defense.1. 1 Risk and Public Protection Concept Risk is the likelihood of occurrence of an event that may have undesirable consequences to an individual, population or a system (CHP 2004). Risk management in the other hand is the process in which an amicable decision touching on a foreseeable risk is made in reflection to technical, social, economic and political situation with an aim of developing, analyzing and comparing available options towards eliminating or minimizing the effect of the anticipated risk (CHP 2004).The objective of public protection is to enhance, secure and accomplish the public rights in relation to protection against abuse, disregard, and violence. Child protection is part of public protection scheme that specifically focuses on preventing, responding and resolving abusive cases and violence against children. Effective public protection calls for inter-disciplinary and multi-agency participation that links various sectors such as police departments, criminal investigation departments, health facilities and other government and non-government agencies.Public protection efforts also requires proactive participation of public from all diverse sectors, race, age, gender and religion in giving timely feedback on issues that may seem to have potential risks (Sunstein, 2002). These multi-disciplinary and multi-agency approaches in public protection enhance the capacity and efficiency of the actors in the system development and establishment of appropriate apparatus that offers genuine long term protection for all.Public protection addresses the origin of historical failures towards effective public protection such as insecurity, poverty, misuse of power and dangerous norms and traditions (CHP 2004). The government is the chief player in ensuring that public protection rights are fulfilled by the different actors and therefore should set up an effective national community based system that would monitor and coordinate the integrated inputs from the various agencies.For efficiency sake, such a system should be established on both law and practical facts in relation to provisions of human rights principles that involves members of public and experienced staff in awareness campaigns to sensitize on risk and public protection issues (Bradley and Amanda, 2000). For the system to be sustainable the government should be held accountable and in cases of major conflicts where the government may be non-committal in guaranteeing public protection to all and especially children, the international agencies should step in and ensure public protection rights are fulfilled (Leff, 1997).Risk identification and assessment is usually the first and significant step in risk management and public protection. In Britain the Offender Assessment System (OASys) is one of the standard tools in assessing risks that relate to violence (Christoffel and Stephen, 1993). OASys offers guidance to professional practitioners in risk and public protection in making dependable decisions on the level of potential risks.OASys is a pivotal tool in assessing the likelihood of an offender to re-engage in harmful acts and therefore assists in the practical management of harmful risks. The system also links the assessment of the offender to the sentence plan and measures any changes that the offender may demonstrate while serving the sentence (Munro and Rumgay, 2000). 1. 2 Development of Risk and Public Protection Concept in Britain Britain is known for its tradition in commitment towards public protection especially on children protection and support of their general welfare.Since the enactment of the child protection act of 1989 there has been a remarkable improvement in the responsibility over the safety of children on the parents and the public at large. However, the death of Victoria Climbie opened a renewed synergy towards risk and public protection that raised the degree of commitment among the various agencies (Reder and Duncan 2004). The initiative on “Every Child Matters” that was enacted in 2003 was particularly a significant milestone towards the risk management and public protection.The initiative was described by many as beacon of hope for the vulnerable population in Britain. It revealed the vision on what is expected of “good children” among the different agencies dealing with children and it also promoted a sense of responsibility among individuals in the efforts of improving on the general safety of the public amidst the inherent challenges. ”Every Child Matters” initiative described a workable 10 years plan of action that would see a great improvement in public protection in the UK.In the first half of the proposed action plan, important legislations and structural reforms were put in place with an objective of ensuring that participation and contribution by different sectors in public protection was efficient (Laming, 2009). A cabinet sub-committee that was headed by the secretary of state in charge of children was introduced to oversee the family issues and concerns raised among the children and the youth. The committee was supported by the inter-government board charged with the responsibility public services on the protection of children and youth.These developments were of great significance in shaping the concept of risk and public protection in Britain. The recommendations from the government teams were supported and closely guided by more than 20 highly experienced stakeholders that influenced the protection agenda. At the grassroots level universal services for children under five years of age were established to ensure that efficient support was provided. The intervention on the youth and children that complimented the work of the local schools was offered equally regardless of the background of the beneficiaries (Aday, 2005).The initiative on “Every Child Matters” establishment of the children Act of 2004 that provided a legal underpin that was aimed in radical transformation of child protection efforts in Britain. The children Trust revised in the act provided for “cooperation” as a duty to various agencies including the police, councils at the district level, Health agents, probation board and other partnering agents. The duty to cooperate was a move meant to ensure that the partnering agents took the children protection responsibility upon them.This would increase the efficiency in coordination and identification of risks in public protection (Beaglehole and Bonita, 1997). However, a number of reforms recommended by Lord Laming in his report on Victoria’s death inquiry were not implemented by a number of authorities. This was revealed after the death of Baby Peter and the consequent government inquiry that was again carried out by Lord Laming. As the government intensifies her efforts on having the agencies work together in public protection efforts, quality lives among the children and youth is expected and more endangered lives will be saved.To achieve this vision more training exercises are required among the actors and the data systems used in the risk public protection exercises should be updated to ensure that they are more reliable and leaves minimal margins of error (Varma, 1991). The workforce should also be increased to ensure that the workers have sufficient time to professionally explore the child’s and understand the family background. More effective ways of penetrating organizational and cultural barriers should be devised to facilitate faster ways to share information on risk and public protection and receive immediate feedback.Ways to reduce the case loads among the front line staff should be considered and at the same time the commitment among the rest of the staff should be addressed by the organizational senior management so that matters of public protection can be given priority amidst the day-to-day staff duties (Farmer and Owen, 1995). 2. 0 Government Inquiries into Risk and Public Protection Cases The death of both Victoria Climbie and Baby Peter occurred in Haringey at the outskirts of London after dehumanizing torture from the guardians.Following the extensive public outcry and intensive media coverage the government ordered a public inquiry into the circumstances that led to the death of the innocent children. Both inquiries were led by Lord Laming with an objective of advising the government on ways in which incidences of such magnitude would be avoided in future. Since the death of Baby Peter the government authority through the office of the secretary of Children has intensified on implementation of reforms that will ensure that the same mistakes are not repeated as was the case after the inquiry of Victoria Climbie (Reder and Duncan, 2004).In this paper the circumstances leading to the death of Baby Peter are discussed in details to highlight on the significance of stemming up efforts on reduction of risks on the vulnerable members of the society and guaranteeing protection to all (Laming, 2009). 2. 1 The Baby Peter Case Baby Peter who is also commonly referred to as “Baby P”, died in Haringey in North London following a disturbing torture that left over 50 injuries all over his 17-months body (Darrel, 2010).The young baby had sustained the injuries within a span of 8 months during which he was attended by officers from the social services. Baby Peter’s incidence was received with shock and disbelieve due to the extend of the injuries than had been inflicted in the tiny and defenseless body and due to the fact that the case emerged in the same local authority of Haringey where a similar case concerning Victoria Climbie had occurred. The Victoria case had led to a government inquiry which had given more than 100 recommendations for reforms that would avert the occurrence of such a case in future.The public protection office in Haringey and the partnering agencies were greatly criticized for their failure to save the life of Baby Peter even after such a detailed preventive guideline from the previous inquiry (Laming, 2009). The death led to 3 independent inquiries and establishment of a national review on the conduct of social services. The Head of public protection unit in charge of children at Haringey was immediately removed from office at the order from the minister.The baby’s death was also subject to another inquiry ordered by the government and headed by Lord Laming to look into the implementation of recommendation raised earlier in the Victoria’s case and was also to be debated in the House of Commons (Darrel, 2010). Baby Peter was born on March 1, 2006 to Tracey Connelly who took up a new boy friend by the name Steven Barker later in November the same year. A month later a general practitioner detected bruises on the baby’s face and chest which led to the arrest of the mother leaving Baby Peter under the care of a friend.The baby was taken back to the care of the mother in January 2007 and months later Peter was admitted in hospital on two different occasions with bruises, scratches and swollen head. Peter’s mother was arrested again in May 2007. The medical reports revealed that the Peter’s injuries were as a result of abuse and therefore on June 4, the baby was given out to a friend for protection and general upkeep. However, the following month Haringey’s Children services was issued with a legal notice indicating that the requirements to initiate the baby’s care proceedings were not adequately met.On August 1 2007, Baby Peter was examined by a North London based pediatrician and the following day, Connelly freed from any form of prosecution. On August 3, 2007 the baby was rushed in North Middlesex hospital in a critical condition where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival. The post-mortem report revealed that the child had multiple injuries including broken ribs and back as well as missing finger tips and nails. Connelly was again arrested together with his boy friend Barker, Jason Owen (Barker’s brother) and his girl friend.Connelly pleaded guilty to the case but Barker and Jason who had been cleared of murder of the baby due to lack of sufficient evidence were found guilty of allowing the baby’s death. Connelly and Barker were faced with a second court charge in April 2009 involving the rape of a 2 year old girl whose name was also in the protection register of Haringer’s protection office. The verdict on the second case found Barker guilty of rape related offences while Connelly was cleared from Child cruelty charges against her (Darrel, 2010).The sentence for the trio was read on May 22, 2009 where Connelly was sentenced to an indefinite imprisonment of not less than 5 years. Steven Barker was given life imprisonment following his rape case and his brother Owen was to serve in jail indefinitely but not for a period less than 3 years. Several internal inquiries were ordered by the Haringey council after the court proceedings to look carry out serious case reviews into the matter. The secretary of state in charge of children also ordered an inquiry to the operations of Haringey Council and determines whether the council was adhering to the laid down risk and protection procedures.The three other inquiries that were sparked by the death of Baby Peter were to investigate; the responsibility of agencies that were involved in Baby Peter’s incidence including the police officers, health practitioners, and the Haringey Council. The second inquiry was to look into the possible cases of breach of the code of practice in risk and protection exercise in the general care council. The last inquiry was to be carried out by Lord Laming and was to carry out a national review on the implementation of the recommendations made in a similar inquiry after the death of Victoria Climbie (Darrel, 2010).2. 2 The Impact of Baby Peter Case on Legislation and Policy After his national review onto the level of implementation of his earlier recommendations, Lord Laming noted that a number of the recommendations on child protection were yet to be implemented. Lord Laming report called for urgent legislative measures and policies into risk and public protection that would assure the protection of the vulnerable members of the society and particularly children.His report revealed that 200,000 of the children in Britain were living in homes where the risk of domestic violence was high. 350,000 other children were leaving with parents who had dangerous drug practices while another 1. 3 million young children were leaving with parents or guardians who were heavy consumers of alcohol (Laming, 2009). The report further revealed that in the year 2007/8 55 other children were killed in the hands of their relatives in similar circumstances with that of Baby Peter (Laming, 2009).Due to the intensity implications of the findings gathered by various inquiries into Baby Peter case the government has taken a leading role in ensuring that appropriate public protection legislations are put in place. The establishment of “Every child matters” won great support among the practitioners that work with the children across the various agencies. The government effort to streamline the inter-agency guide on “working together to protect a child” was also a great step towards realization of long-term solution towards public protection.Another important development introduced by the government is the renewed model of early national intervention development that is implemented at local levels through the extended schools network. The upcoming “Sure-Start” centers for children have also built an important base through which more flexible responses into the needs of children can be addressed (Laming, 2009). As the government continue to enact more legislation and policies in the response to the case of Baby Peter it is important that the risk and public protection responsibility be taken as a collective responsibility by all.Enactment of policies without implementing them would serve no purpose in child protection but commitment in the side of the government, inter-agency organizations and individuals in ensuring that the policies are implemented would be a great step in prevention of occurrence of such shocking children abuse in Britain. There is a need also for parents to act responsibly towards their children, the Baby Peter case is a good lesson for parents and guardians to shun from abusive activities that can pose risk to innocent and defenseless children.After enactment of legislation and policies the government should further take up the challenge of ensuring that the leaders of all local protection services are translating them into practical guide in their day to day protection practices. From April 2011 the Children’s Trust boards will as well be required through the new government legislations to carry out needs analysis that will inform the authorities on the best intervention protection strategies on children.The move was aimed at extending the services outside the local authorities that were traditionally entrusted with the exercise as a way of enhancing the overall efficiency. 3. 0 Inter-agency Contribution and Interdisciplinary Policies & Practices The involvement of inter-agencies in the operations of child protection in Britain is a significant element in the success of government efforts to increase the efficiency in risk and public protection. The government efforts are geared towards involving all stakeholders in the child development including the parents and other persons taking care of the children.As in the case of other UK Jurisdiction “co-operating to safeguard Children 2003” is the main guiding document that directs the involvement of various inter-agencies in children protection (Hebenton and Thomas, 2004). The document specifies the roles of the main agencies that are held accountable in the protection of children. These agencies include the police department, education, health, trusts, local government authorities, charity organizations, probation services and social service boards.The guiding principles provided by the guiding documents highlights the need for the cooperating agencies to consider the child protection as an overriding priority, the recognition of the child’s right to be actively involved in the protection process and realization of the need for all the agencies to cooperate in their work towards fulfilling the common objectives in child protection. The document also works as a guide for effective facilitation of interagency cooperation and development of multi-disciplinary advance towards children protection in Britain.Though the government effort towards the improvement of the strategies to plan and coordinate the interagency cooperation through local Child Protection Committees has been intense, the system has always been faced by sharp criticism. The system and structure of the Child Protection Committee and its capacity to competently coordinate and cooperate between the main actors in children protection and the broader safe-guarding plan was the primary center of attention in the criticism protracted in Lord Laming’s report.According to Lord Laming’s report the Child Protection Committees were structurally weak and lacked the power and authority to effectively intervene in difficult circumstances. However, according to the social services inspectorate the weight of the multi disciplinary and inter-agency in-service training for the officers responsible in children protection has always been under estimated and the resources directed into the programme has greatly been low. Consequently, the efficiency in the discharge of the roles and duties in child protection for the Child Protection Committees was limited.For this reason the interaction between the education services and social services as well as other major actors in risk and public protection need to be enhanced. The social services inspectorate criticism also called for representation of the Child Protection Committees at more senior levels arguing that their attendance in serious inter-agency meetings were inconsistent and the representatives in the meeting could not handle some of the concerns raised at such meetings (Taylor and Gunn 1999).The committees were also criticized for being the cause of delays in conclusive discussion of protection agenda with some issues taking too long to be resolved. In response to these challenges the inter-agencies resulted in a plan and coordination strategy that would adopt evolving Child Protection Committees along the protection structural reforms as it was also the case in Wales and Northern Ireland. The introduction of this process was really evolutionary and marked one of the strongest contributions that eventually led to replacement of Child Protection Committees with regional safe-guarding boards.4. 0 Health and Social Care Provision The policy on health and social care provision for patients with mental challenges has resulted to improvement in quality of life among many people in Britain. While this is a positive step towards public protection, there has been criticism over the limitations and the consequences that such limitations has on the mentally challenged patients, their relatives and the public at large. The effect on the patients can be witnessed in the suicidal cases among the mentally challenged patients which have been approximated at 1000 cases every year.Among the general public the limitations in health and social care of the mentally challenged patients is most vivid in the number of cases of homicides committed by such patients which is approximated at 40 cases per year. There have been policy and practice shifts in Britain where the individuals who are considered to be dangerous have been targeted and forcefully directed to health facilities as a move to promote public protection among the members of the public.However, this move by the government has received heavy criticism from the practitioners in mental health who feels that health and social care should be provided for all instead of offering it to a small section of the violent patients (Taylor and Gunn 1999). A study was carried out to explore the risk patterns of the mentally challenged patients in infringing on public protection provision through committing homicide (Holland and Stewart, 1997). The study was based on public reports on inquiries carried out on homicide related incidences.The analysis of the study was done only on the homicide cases that were perpetrated by a mentally challenged offender. The data of the study was sourced from Zito Trust with a sample of 40 reports that had been in print between 1988 and 1997. The reports revealed that the analyses on the predictability of risk took into account the long term predictive factors that were significant in the management of the case. The assessment of risk for the offenders was subject to the time of evaluation and could change significantly with time. Analysis of the findings revealed that 27.5% of the reports were indicative that the violent act of the offenders could have been predicted while 72. 5% of the inquiry reports indicated that there were no sufficient proofs to warn the professionals in charge of the patients about the impending act of homicide from the offenders. The study further revealed that 60% of the patients that had committed homicide had a traceable history of violent acts with 65% of the cases that seriously infringed in public protection being considered as preventable (Holland and Stewart, 1997).From the finding of the study it can be concluded that homicidal cases could have been reduced or eliminated if improvements on the time of responses on patients at early signs of mental challenges instead of waiting until the patient was rated as a high risk with immense potential of violence. The study revealed that a number of deaths could have been avoided if the practitioners had acted early on the patients other than concentrating all the resources on those considered to be at high risk.In accordance to the inquiry reports more effective risk assessment and appropriate timely responses on the patients could have significantly reduces the number of homicide cases registered (Daniels, N. 1985). There are rising concerns on public protection as the matter takes a political dimension concerning the wellbeing of the people with mental challenges. It may seem right to concentrate limited resources to those that are most needy among the mentally challenged patients (Elliot, 1996). However, from the finding of this study it has been shown that not all violent patients reveal out rightly signs of violent acts.This was demonstrated from the fact that some of the offenders had not shown any sign of violence in their history until just before they committed homicide. Secondly, the finding reveals that those that may not be violent may never show gradual changes in behavior when turning violent and thirdly there a number of patients that may never display the common signs that are indicative of turning violent until such a time when they commit a dangerous offence like homicide (Holland and Stewart, 1997).It can therefore be concluded that the solution towards improving public protection among the mentally handicapped, their relatives and general public lies on how well the risk assessment is carried out. The patients with no visible indicators of violence or those with no history of violence do not mean that they should be put aside as the resources are directed to the violent ones (Taylor and Gunn 1999). 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