Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services
I would like to pay tribute to Sir Ronald Waterhouse who sadly passed away earlier this month. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.
Assembly Members will recall that Sir Ronald was appointed by the Secretary of State for Wales in 1996 to chair the Tribunal of Inquiry into Child Abuse in North Wales. In examining evidence of widespread abuse of children in care in the former counties of Clwyd and Gwynedd since 1974, the Tribunal heard the evidence of 575 witnesses between February 1997 and March 1998.
The Tribunal’s Report “Lost in Care” was published in February 2000 and made 72 recommendations which have provided the foundation on which we have driven improvements to children’s services in Wales over the last decade. Sir Ronald’s report was revolutionary. It was the catalyst for transformation of services to looked after children through;
- the establishment of a Children Commissioner,
- the Children First Programme;
- the regulation of care settings and the workforce now enshrined in the Care Standards Act 2000;
- the broader protection of children and strengthening of their voice through arrangements for advocacy and whistle-blowing.
Sir Ronald tirelessly continued to champion the wellbeing of looked after children agenda through his patronage of Voices From Care. Last December, Sir Ronald with Voices marked the 10th anniversary of the publication of “Lost in Care” to celebrate progress made in Wales but also to act as a salutary reminder of past tragedies that should never be repeated.
In June, a public memorial service will take place in London.