Perhaps the major factor which contributed to concern about child care policy and practice during the 1970s arose from a series of child abuse inquiries. The Maria Colwell Inquiry (Secretary of State, 1974) signalled the beginning of modern political, public and professional interest in child abuse (see Parton, 1979, 1981). Public inquiries proved crucial providing the impetus for introducing new administrative and management procedures for identifying and managing the problem (Parton, 1985b, Chapter 5) and exposing both the professionals and agencies more generally to media scrutiny and usually opprobrium (see Franklin and Parton, 1991). However, it seemed that intense public and media reaction to child abuse declined after it reached its peak in the mid-1970s (Hartley, 1985). The mid-1980s saw this quickly change, however, with the inquiry into the death of Jasmine Beckford chaired by Mr Louis Blom-Cooper QC.1 It appeared just at the time when the review of child care law and the decision-making in child care research were coming to a conclusion. However, its perceptions and explanations of the nature of the problems to be addressed were somewhat different as were many of its recommendations for change in child care policy and practice.
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