Ian Johnston to step down as BASW chief executive

Ian Johnston, chief executive of the British Association of Social Workers, will retire next May, it was announced yesterday.

Johnston, who has led organisation for the past 12 years, said he was leaving to spend more time at home with his family in Scotland.

In a parting shot to the government, Johnston warned against a “knee-jerk reaction” to the Baby P case that would lead to greater constraints on the profession.

Some Laming reforms counterproductive

He said some of Lord Laming’s reforms following the death of Victoria Climbié had been “counterproductive” and predicted practitioners would resist further change unless it meant more investment at the frontline. 

Johnston told Community Care: “Since Climbié a lot of resources have gone into keeping staff tied up in knots in front of computers rather than doing face-to-face work with children and families. If there are more reforms like this social workers will say ‘enough is enough’. They are sick of being expected to do the impossible without adequate resources.”

Tributes from chair

BASW’s chair, Ronnie Barnes, paid tribute to Johnston’s record at the organisation, which represents over 11,000 social workers.

He called him a “powerful and passionate advocate” for the profession, adding:  “Ian is leaving behind his legacy of a strong and committed organisation respected as the true voice of professional social work.”

Johnston’s post will be advertised.

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