20 Sep 2010

The Children's Society, as part of a coalition led by The Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE), is today calling on the Government to maintain and enhance the good work done by The Children’s Rights Commissioner. The coalition today published a set of minimum requirements for a new Office of Children's Rights Commissioner. 

Based on the framework advocated by 130+ non-governmental organisations in 2001, these new minimum requirements were developed by many of the country's leading children's charities, including The Children's Society and are expected to attract widespread support both inside and outside of Parliament.

In July 2010, Education Secretary Michael Gove established a review of the Children's Commissioner headed up by John Dunford, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders. The Review is considering the powers, remit and functions of the Commissioner, in particular how the role could be brought into line with the United Nations Paris Principles for human rights institutions and how it could better demonstrate the Government's commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
 
Bob Reitemeier, Chief Executive of The Children's Society, said: “The post of children’s commissioner has been instrumental in championing the views of children across England. However, we want this role to be extended so that it can effectively protect and promote children’s rights. Children need a strong and truly independent advocate and we believe that this is what this position can become”.

CRAE's national co-ordinator, Carolyne Willow, says: “Both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats consistently and forcefully advocated a powerful, rights-based Commissioner when the legislation passed through Parliament in 2004. Indeed, following a vote in the Lords, for some weeks England's children looked set to get a Commissioner with the independence and powers required by international standards. This was overturned in the Commons and, as a consequence, England's Children's Commissioner is the only one in the UK that has been refused full entry to the European Network of Ombudspeople for Children”.
 
CRAE is conducting two short online surveys to gather evidence to support the creation of a new Office of Children's Rights Commissioner. Carolyne Willow adds: “We will do all we can to assist the Dunford Review in working out how children's rights could be better protected by this role, and the UK's international obligations followed. Children and young people in England must not be let down a second time on this.”

The minimum requirements and the online surveys – both for young people and for NGOs - are on the CRAE website: www.crae.org.uk.

Ends. 

For more information, contact The Children's Society's media office: rafi.cooper@childsoc.org.uk, 020 7841 4422.