The 'change for children' Programme in England: Towards the 'preventive-surveillance state'

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Following the Children Act 2004 and the launch of the 'Every Child Matters: Change for Children' programme, England has embarked on the most ambitious changes in children's services for over a generation. While the government presented the changes as a response to the Laming Report into the death of Victoria Climbié, they are much more than this. They build on a number of ideas and policies that had been developed over a number of years, which emphasize the importance of intervening in children's lives at an early stage in order to prevent problems in later life. This paper provides a critical analysis of the assumptions that underpin the changes and argues that the relationships between parents, children, professionals, and the state, and their respective responsibilities, are being reconfigured as a result, and that the priority given to the accumulation, monitoring, and exchange of electronic information has taken on a central significance. What we are witnessing is the emergence of the 'preventive-surveillance' state, where the role of the state is becoming broader, more interventive, and regulatory at the same time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-187
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Law and Society
Issue number1
Early online date8 Feb 2008
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2008


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