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A Lipskian analysis of child protection failures from Victoria Climbié to 'Baby P': a street-level re-evaluation of joined-up governance

Marinetto, Michael John Paul ORCID: 2011. A Lipskian analysis of child protection failures from Victoria Climbié to 'Baby P': a street-level re-evaluation of joined-up governance. Public Administration 89 (3) , pp. 1164-1181. 10.1111/j.1467-9299.2011.01939.x

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This paper explores the issue of joined-up governance by considering child protection failures, firstly, the case of Victoria Climbié who was killed by her guardians despite being known as an at risk child by various public agencies. The seeming inability of the child protection system to prevent Victoria Climbié's death resulted in a public inquiry under the chairmanship of Lord Laming. The Laming report of 2003 looked, in part, to the lack of joined-up working between agencies to explain this failure to intervene and made a number of recommendations to improve joined-up governance. Using evidence from detailed testimonies given by key personnel during the Laming Inquiry, the argument of this paper is that we cannot focus exclusively on formal structures or decision-making processes but must also consider the normal, daily and informal routines of professional workers. These very same routines may inadvertently culminate in the sort of systemic failures that lead to child protection tragedies. Analysis of the micro-world inhabited by professional workers would benefit most, it is argued here, from the policy-based concept of street-level bureaucracy developed by Michael Lipsky some 30 years ago. The latter half of the paper considers child protection failures that emerged after the Laming-inspired reforms. In particular, the case of ‘Baby P’ highlights, once again, how the working practices of street-level professionals, rather than a lack of joined-up systems, may possibly complement an analysis of, and help us to explain, failures in the child protection system. A Lipskian analysis generally offers, although there are some caveats, only pessimistic conclusions about the prospects of governing authorities being able to avoid future child protection disasters. These conclusions are not wholeheartedly accepted. There exists a glimmer of optimism because street-level bureaucrats still remain accountable, but not necessarily in terms of top-down relations of authority rather, in terms of interpersonal forms of accountability – accountability to professionals and citizen consumers of services.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HJ Public Finance
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0033-3298
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2022 14:29

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