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Academics warn over child protection privatisation

A group of academics say they have serious concerns about proposals to let private contractors take over some child protection services in England.

Professor Ray Jones of Kingston University said child protection was too important to be handled by firms "driven by the profit motive".

He said any such move could be destabilising and cause "chaos".

Ministers said it was a consultation and local authorities would not be forced to employ outside organisations.

Prof Jones, who specialises in social work, was the leading signatory of a letter sent to the Guardian by the 37 academics, criticising companies that could be expected to bid for child protection contracts.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that potential bidders such as G4S, Serco and Atos had performed poorly on several high-profile contracts, "won't be local [and] won't be focused on this as their core business".

He said this meant there would be a "lack of a strong focus on staying close to children and families".

"Child protection is much too important to get it destabilised in this way," Prof Jones said.

"We're opening this up to potential chaos."

Prof Jones also said contractors would "not be regulated or registered so they won't be required to be approved organisations".

For more on this story and related articles, please see the BBC News website. 

[Text copyright 2014 BBC News]