Liz Timms and Nushra Mapstone of the British Association
of Social Workers say regulation should be welcomed.
Never before has social work been subject to the degree of
scrutiny and regulation it faces today. In England alone, in
pursuance of the Care Standards Act 2000, the past year has
witnessed the birth of the General Social Care Council, the
National Care Standards Commission and the Social Care Institute
National occupational standards for social care workers, and
draft codes of conduct and practice for employees and employers
have swiftly followed. As a long-standing campaigner for the
independent regulation of social care, the British Association of
Social Workers has welcomed these developments. Yet there is little
doubt that many workers feel overwhelmed by the enormity and speed
of change, and are desperately seeking a guide through the current
Is BASW simply joining the party by revising its code of ethics
for social work? Not so. BASW published the first version of its
code of ethics 27 years ago and has updated it periodically since,
taking account of developments locally and internationally. At such
a significant time of change in social work, it is clearly
important for BASW to reaffirm the values it stands for and the
principles it expects its members to abide by in their day-to-day
practice. Although it is demanding, most would agree that it
represents a standard of practice that service users deserve.
In the current climate many social workers feel powerless and
uncertain of what to expect. The social work agenda is politically
driven and all too often a “top-down” process. To overcome this
present malaise there is a need for a collective professional
identity around shared values in social work.
The new BASW code of ethics clearly identifies the five basic
values that are core to social work: human dignity and worth,
social justice, service to humanity, integrity, and competence. In
its revised form, the code for the first time explicitly applies
these values and their principles to social work managers,
educators and researchers. Once a social worker, always a social
BASW’s objective is to support and encourage social workers to
practise at the highest level, first to secure the well-being of
service users and second, to advance the development of social work
as a profession for the benefit of the public we serve.
Collectively and individually we must unleash our true
Liz Timms is chairperson of BASW and Nushra Mapstone is
a professional officer at BASW.