Nottingham baby case: social workers vindicated

The Nottingham baby case has dragged social work through the mud.

In January, a newborn baby was removed from his 18-year-old mother without her consent or a care order. It prompted speculation that social workers were stealing children to meet government-set adoption targets.

Then Justice Munby, presiding over a judicial review of the council’s actions, was misinterpreted as saying the baby’s unlawful removal was “far from unique”. Again, the right-wing press had a field day at the expense of social work.

While the Nottingham baby case is an example of poor practice, it is neither common nor part of some adoption conspiracy. After returning the baby, the council secured an interim care order because there were real concerns about the mother’s capacity to care for her son. A placement at a mother and baby unit has now been arranged.

Indeed Ministry of Justice research shows that interventions are driven by genuine concerns, often on evidence of actual harm.

This is not to deny that the process has to be right. Justice Munby said management and training were at fault not frontline staff. Both need to be examined – and not just in Nottingham.

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Mike Broad

This article appeared in the 13 March issue under the headline “There’s no conspiracy”

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