A social worker has been cleared of misconduct charges following a three-day hearing before a General Social Care Council committee in London this week.
Mabel Rose was accused of asking a six-year-old child to show her a scratch near her genital area during a child protection interview – a charge she denied.
Giving evidence yesterday she said she had told her line manager she did not feel she had the skills to interview the child, who had disclosed abuse by her father.
Achieving Best Evidence
Rose, at the time an agency social worker at Lewisham Council, south-east London, said she had understood that a social worker with Achieving Best Evidence skills was needed and she had not undertaken training in the government’s guidance for interviewing vulnerable children.
“As a locum you come and you are expected to run with cases. If you don’t do that you’re likely to lose your job. But I did this case and I lost my job anyway. I ended up thinking what’s the point?”
Rose said the child voluntarily showed her the mark. When asked why she had not immediately suspended the interview, Rose said: “When you are doing child protection work you cannot suddenly stop them [disclosing abuse] because they will think they have done something wrong. You have to let them carry through.”
She said her line manager Pam Harmer initially complimented her on how she handled the interview but shortly afterwards said she would have to leave, after concerns arose that the alleged action had compromised a police investigation.
Cost to council
Rose said: “She said to me ‘if this gets out it could cost the council a lot of money’.”
Giving evidence earlier, Harmer said she had decided Rose was the most suitable member of staff to do the work because she was a black woman, the family was black and Rose also had a lighter caseload than other practitioners.
She said she had not expected Rose to carry out an ABE interview but admitted she may have assumed the social worker had more experience of interviews than she did. She also said she had been considering employing Rose permanently but would have had to reconsider keeping her on at all if she had refused to interview the child.
“It seemed to me she was not happy [about doing the interview] but she had the capability to do it. Social workers do sometimes say to me ‘I do not want to do this’ but they have no choice. It is part of their job and they are paid to do it,” said Harmer.