Social Care News
Written by International Federation of Social Workers:
It is our pleasure and privilege to invite you to participate in the Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development (SWS) 2016, to be held on June 27-30, 2016 in Seoul, Korea.
The purpose of the conference is to bring together scholars, practitioners, agency leaders and students from a wide range of social work and social development fields to discuss theoretical and practical issue of “Promoting the Dignity and Worth of People”.
Proposals for symposium and workshop sessions and abstracts for individual presentations should be submitted electronically via the web page.
Tory grandee Leon Brittan died before he could be quizzed over claims he was at parties where children were sexually abused and killed.
The former Home Secretary was named by an alleged victim as being among a group of powerful men who he saw at the luxury Dolphin Square apartments close to Westminster.
The claims, including allegations the VIP paedophile ring murdered three children, are being treated as “credible and true” by Scotland Yard.
Lord Brittan made no public comment on the abuse network allegations before his death from cancer at the age of 75 on Wednesday night, but it is understood he was horrified by them.
Dossier: Geoffrey Dickens Conservative MP
Yesterday, former officer Jim Gamble, who ran the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, said: “Leon Brittan’s death is a personal tragedy for his family, friends and former colleagues, to whom I offer my condolences.
“But a wider tragedy stretches beyond that intimate circle, as the opportunity for him to give evidence to the child abuse inquiry, to clarify issues concerning allegations of a missing dossier, has been lost forever.”
Lord Brittan had come under fire over his handling of papers on high-profile paedophiles, passed to him by MP Geoffrey Dickens while he was at the Home Office.
He confirmed he received the dossier and passed it to his civil servants but denied accusations there was a cover up.
Claims: Abuse allegations against Brittan
Police said the allegations of abuse by a Westminster-based paedophile network spanned a decade at locations across London and the Home Counties.
Det Supt Kenny McDonald, who is leading the murder inquiry called Operation Midland, said last month that detectives believed the witness’s claims.
The allegations emerged when a man known only as “Nick” claimed he was abused during a decade of his childhood when he was driven to “parties” in the capital and Home Counties.
He said one of the locations was the flats at Dolphin Square, an upmarket residential development near Westminster. Nick claims to have identified a number of high-profile individuals attending the gatherings in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The names include Lord Brittan, former diplomat Peter Hayman and a former Tory MP who is not being identified.
Two further alleged victims have told investigative journalism website Exaro that they saw the same cabinet minister at similar events where children were abused at Dolphin Square.
Yesterday, a Scotland Yard spokesman refused to confirm whether officers from Operation Midland had made any contact with Lord Brittan.
Dolphin Square: Linked to a paedophile ring
The spokesman added: “We would not discuss individuals we may speak to as part of any investigation. Operation Midland remains a live investigation.”
It is not the first accusation made against the peer.
Last October he was accused in the House of Commons by Labour MP Jim Hood of “improper conduct with children”.
Under parliamentary rules, politicians can make accusations at Westminster without being sued for libel.
Separately, Lord Brittan was being investigated by officers over an alleged rape of a 19-year-old woman following a date in 1967.
The woman, who is now aged 66, complained to the Metropolitan Police back in 2012.
Lord Brittan, who denied the allegations and said they were “wholly without foundation”, was questioned under caution last summer. Scotland Yard said on Thursday that their investigation was continuing.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath (Labour)
My Lords, we now move on to another group on the regulation of healthcare workers, and social care workers as well. In debate in Committee, I made it clear that I was concerned about the decision of the Government to abolish the General Social Care Council and to transfer responsibility for regulation of social care workers to the Health Professions Council. I am concerned for two reasons. First, I know that the General Social Care Council had rather a bumpy ride to start with and was the subject of a review, which was critical of the way in which it performed. However, it is right to pay tribute to the tremendous work undertaken in the last two years under its current leadership and the chairmanship of Mrs Rosie Varley to improve and enhance the quality of the regulation by the council. It is very disappointing that the Government have decided that, just at the time when the GSCC is starting to prove itself, the whole thing is to be dismantled and the function transferred to the Health Professions Council.
I also do not understand why the Health Professions Council is considered to be the right regulator for social workers. There is a difference between social work and health work. We touched on that in the last debate. I agree with what the noble Earl, Lord Howe, said in response to the noble Baroness when he reflected on the value of social care workers but also on the difference in role. The Health Professions Council regulates a number of bodies, but they all have a health basis in the main. Therefore, it stretches the imagination to see how this body will effectively regulate social care workers in the future. The profession of social work is pretty fragile and having its own regulator is one of the building blocks for boosting the status, confidence and quality of the social work profession.
I oppose the abolition of the GSCC and the transfer of social worker regulation to the HPC in principle. If I am unsuccessful in persuading the Government, even at this stage, to change their mind, I suggest that a number of issues would help to reassure me and many social workers about the way in which the HPC will perform. This is why I have a number of amendments, which seek to ensure that there is an appropriate definition of “social worker”. I think that it would be appropriate, inside the HPC, to establish an office of chief social worker. I also think that the name of the HPC should recognise that it is regulating the social work profession. I have not yet had any rational answer as to why “Social Work”, or something of the sort, should not appear in the title of the HPC. We know that the reason is that the HPC has refused to have it. I think that the department is finding it difficult to tell the HPC that it is subject to parliamentary provision and that it is not enough, simply because it does not want “Social Work” in its title, not to agree to it. I refer the noble Earl, Lord Howe, to the Bill before us. It refers, in these clauses, to a number of orders, including health and social work orders. Therefore, there clearly cannot be an objection in principle to the use of “Social Work” in the title. It is totemic, but it is at least a way of showing the 100,000 individuals in the social work profession to be covered that in fact the HPC is not going to continue with a medical model of regulation.
My final point is this. I invite the noble Earl to state clearly that it is not his department’s intention that the HPC should eventually take over the regulation of nurses and doctors. He will know that a review is being undertaken of the Nursing and Midwifery Council and I gather that there are also proposals to change the governance of the General Medical Council. A number of people in the health service have told me that they think the eventual aim is for the HPC to regulate all the healthcare professions. The noble Earl would provide a great deal of reassurance if he would say that it is not his department’s long-term ambition to turn the HPC into the sole regulator of all the health and social care professions. I for one would be very concerned about that. I beg to move.
Social workers deserve better. Routinely vilified in sections of the national press, they work with some of the most difficult people in our society and under some of the most challenging circumstances. Whether it be in mental health, disability, elderly care or child protection they do a job few others would be willing to do. The Local Government Association estimates that 50,000 social care workers are assaulted each year in the course of their jobs.
They don’t expect praise from the media but surely balanced coverage is not too much to ask? Unfortunately, in some sections of the press that does seem to be too much to ask.
Balanced coverage is not what they got in the aftermath of the tragic Baby P case. Accompanied by the headline ‘Blood on their hands’ the Sun appeared to lay the blame almost exclusively on the heads of social workers, launching a petition calling for every social worker who had been involved in the case to be sacked and prevented from working with children again. Readers were encouraged to contact the newspaper if they knew any of the social workers involved.
In 27 consecutive editions of the Sun following the conclusion of the trial of Baby P’s killers, the newspaper singled out Maria Ward, the social worker allocated to Baby P’s case, over and above the other professionals involved. She was named 55 times, in 31 articles, editorials, opinion columns and readers’ letters. Editorials labelled her ‘lazy’ and ‘useless’, while one story speculated on her mental health.
Of course the Baby P case was shocking and serious mistakes were made. But the people with blood on their hands were those convicted in court of killing Baby P, not the professionals who had made mistakes, been duped or had failed to communicate properly with their colleagues.
And child protection is now a multidisciplinary process, involving health professionals and police officers as well as social workers. We don’t yet know the full nature of the mistakes that were made because a second ‘serious case review’ is still underway. And the social workers involved are still under investigation by the General Social Care Council (GSCC), the regulatory body for social care.
Yes, the Sun garnered 1.5m signatures for its petition demanding justice, a remarkable achievement. But it did that on the basis of misinforming its readers. There is not an accountability vacuum in social work that can be filled only by campaigning tabloids. When social workers make mistakes they are held to account by the GSCC just as doctors are held to account by the General Medical Council.
But the Sun has seemingly found this difficult to grasp, incorrectly pointing out in a recent story that although the doctors involved had been suspended by the GMC the social workers had effectively got away scot-free. In fact, the social workers had also been suspended by the GSCC. Meanwhile, the police officers involved in the case have been scarcely mentioned.
And this is what social workers find particularly unfair about their treatment in much of the national media. Social workers are fair game when it comes to media witch hunts in a way that other public servants, such as police officers, teachers or nurses are not.
The Baby P coverage is sadly not a one-off. Ironically, in the months before the Baby P case hit the headlines, social workers were regularly being criticised in the press for taking children away from their parents too readily.
In one of the most widely reported cases of last year, social workers took a baby into care in Nottingham without getting the proper legal authorisation and had to hand the child back to the mother. Clearly a serious procedural mistake had been made. But the social workers demonised as baby snatchers did a few days later gain the proper legal authority to take the baby back into care.
A year later and a court case revealed that those social workers were absolutely right in their judgement after the mother was convicted of child cruelty. This was picked up only by the Nottingham Evening Post but no national newspapers, doing nothing to correct the impression given in the original stories that social workers did indeed ‘snatch’ children without good reason.
Of course it’s not just a matter of fairness. Constant criticism of the profession is having an effect on social work morale, as illustrated by the strength of feeling generated by a recent blog post on the Sun’s coverage. And it is impacting on the numbers willing to enter the particularly thankless arena of child protection. Who would want to embark on a career where the stakes are so high and press outrage is just around the corner? Councils are increasingly having to rely on agency staff and Croydon has had to turn to the US to try to fill its vacancies.
This is why Community Care is launching a campaign tomorrow (March 12) to improve media coverage of social work – ‘Stand Up Now for Social Work’. If you’d like to support us please sign our petition.
One of the first matters the campaign will hope to address is this month’s British Press Awards. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Sun’s Baby P coverage has been shortlisted for campaign of the year. Unsurprising in that it garnered such an impressive number of signatures.
But what message would it give the country’s 95,000 social workers and social work students if such a misinformed witch hunt were held up as the pinnacle of journalistic achievement? And what message would it give the country’s journalists?
Written by LGA
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
The leader and cabinet member for children at Haringey have both survived an attempt to oust them. Cllrs George Meehan and Liz Santry will remain in their posts after Lib Dem members tabled a motion of no confidence in the pair.
They were saved at the full council meeting by fellow Labour councillors who, under a three line whip, voted to remove the no confidence motion and inserted a requirement for the council to act on the government review of Haringey’s childrens services instead.The motion had stated: ‘This council has no confidence in the leader of the council and the cabinet member for children and young people.
‘Furthermore, (this council) calls for a fully independent public inquiry into this case and the state of children’s services in Haringey in order that the residents of Haringey can have complete confidence in the protection of the most vulnerable members of our society.’
Following the meeting, which was the first of the full council since the conclusion of the Baby P court case, the leader of the Liberal Democrat group, Robert Gorrie, said: ‘People right across the county will share our dismay and disgust that the people running Haringey Council will not take responsibility for this tragedy.
‘How can we rebuild Haringey’s shattered reputation if the same people remain in charge?’
‘This case won’t go away, as opposition on the council we will not let it go away,’ he said.