Brandon Muir: BASW urges more resources, not new care law

A Scottish social work leader has rejected calls to make it easier to take children into care, saying a better resourced service will do more to protect children, following the Brandon Muir case.

British Association of Social Workers professional officer Ruth Stark was responding to comments from Scottish opposition politicians after two reports last week into the death of 23-month-old Brandon at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend.

Call for care legislation

Iain Gray, leader of the Labour Party in Scotland, had called for a national inquiry into the child protection system,
and legislation to “change the balance” towards removing ­children at risk more quickly.

Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie also questioned whether there should be a “shift in onus so that parents must prove they are fit and proper, rather than on the state to prove they are not”.

But Stark said legislation was not the answer. “We need a focus on putting the right resources in the right places in order to be able to do the work that we are trained to do,” she said.

Parental substance misuse pressures

Both Brandon’s mother, Heather Boyd, and his killer, Robert Cunningham, were ­heroin users.

“One of the big issues it the volume [of cases] that’s created by parents who are abusing drugs and alcohol,” Stark said. “The real issue is down on the ground in not having enough skilled people to make the assessments when things of this nature are reported to local services.”

The Scottish government also rejected the case for new legislation, though it has already commissioned a review of child protection guidance.

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