Laura Sharman 19 March 2015

Social workers say threat of prison will make children less safe

Government plans to take criminal action against council staff that fail protect children will ‘scapegoat’ workers, according to the British Association of Social Workers (BASW).

Earlier this month, prime minister David Cameron announced ‘wilful neglect’ criminal charges would be extended to cover children’s social care, meaning those that fail to act on suspicions of child abuse could face up to five years in prison.

In an open letter to Government, BASW warns that the new measures could create a culture of ‘blame and threat’ and accused Cameron of ‘opportunistic playing to the gallery’.

The letter stated: ‘Individual social workers must not continue to be scapegoated and blamed for the far more serious systemic statutory failings that have been revealed in a number of inquiries and reviews.

‘Social workers go out to work every day, motivated to do only their best for the children and families they work for. The last thing the profession or vulnerable children and families need is a culture of blame and threat.

‘Extending the definition of wilful neglect as proposed will not achieve the desired outcome of making children safer, but will make things worse.’

BASW warned that the new measures could make it harder to recruit and retain social workers. Instead it calls for investment in training and in services that support children and their families.

Protection is a two-way street image

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