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An Independent Review of the Role and Functions of the Children’s Commissioner for Wales

The meat of this Review lies in the issues that surround the Ch ildren’s Commissioner for Wales - all of them important and many of them controversial. In looking for a structure on which to hang discussion of these issues, I could have chosen the broadest and most internationally recognised of all, the ‘Paris Principles’ relating to the ‘Statutes of National Institutions’ adopted by UN General Assembly resolution in December 1993, the history of which is laid out by Williams and Rees in their literature review (see annex 7 ).These cover competence and responsibilities, composition and guarantees of independence and pluralism, and methods of operation.

Nearer to home, I could have used the seven ‘Nolan Principles’ laid down by the Committee on Standards in Public Life 1995 - selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. Most specifically, I could have relied solely on the terms of my remit letter, the letter of the law governing the Commissioner in the Care Standards Act 2000 and subsequent legislation, or the current Commissioner ’s own mission statements contained in his Five-Year Plan and Annual Reports.

In the end, I have thought it most important to tackle the issues as they emerged during the process of the Review and which seemed most crucial to the children, young people and adults whose opinions we collected. They are intimately connected to all the qualities outlined above and to each other. None of them should be seen as separate from the rest and many of the arguments could have been placed under a number of headings. They are therefore best represented as a circle (see figure 1 at page 49 ).

It is arguable that I could have started at any point in that circle, but I have chosen to do so with independence. This seemed to be the key issue in most people’ s mind and the issue from which other issues flowed. For this and each of them, I have looked at the general principles involved, their practical implications, and the recommendations I have made based on them.