A leading academic has questioned whether social workers are able to operate ethically while employed by local authorities.
In a chapter of a new book being launched on Friday, and seen by Community Care, Michael Preston Shoot, dean of social services at the University of Bedfordshire, argues that councils’ prioritisation of government targets over social work practice compromises social workers’ ability to operate ethically.
In Children’s Services at the Crossroads Preston Shoot criticises Lord Laming, who reviewed child protection after the Victoria Climbié and Baby P cases, for failing to examine “whether social work’s location in local authorities is helpful any longer”.
“The prevailing assumption is that social workers practise in benign organisational environments that are ethically and legally literate. The evidence presented in this chapter casts some doubt on the wisdom of neglecting this organisational context,” he wrote.
He cited evidence from case law, local government ombudsmen reports and cases where the Care Standards Tribunals have overturned applications from the General Social Care Council and the Care Council for Wales to have social workers removed from the professional register because of mitigating factors such as inadequate supervision, chaotic deparments and lack of resources to cope with demands.