The head of an independent review into child protection in England has called for an end to a tick-box culture, saying paperwork was at risk of replacing proper social care.
Professor Eileen Munro also wants to strip Ofsted of the power to evaluate reports into the deaths of abused or neglected children.
The regulator should also scrap pre-planned checks on children’s services in favour of unannounced visits, she said in her second interim report.
Prof Munro said: “The development of bureaucracy was done with very good intentions. It’s a matter of when it gets too much, it gets out of balance. I think the anxiety around missing a case of child abuse has distorted things.
“People have got over-controlling all the way down the system. They think, ‘If you can control it more, we can make children safer’, whereas in fact it is doing the opposite.”
The Munro Review of Child Protection was created after a number of high-profile cases in recent years which highlighted failings in the protection of young people.
Peter Connelly, known as Baby P, died aged 17 months in August 2007 having sustained more than 50 injuries at the hands of his abusive mother, her boyfriend and their lodger.
Speaking at a children’s centre in Tower Hamlets, north-east London, Prof Munro said: “With the Peter Connelly case, the first reaction was, ‘We did follow all the procedures’.
“As we know with hindsight, the judgment or decisions were not good. But it’s about recognising how fallible the reasoning is, and how difficult it is.”
She stressed the importance of increasing the expertise of social workers so they are better equipped to handle vital judgment calls in a system where there is less bureaucracy.