The chief social worker for children has attempted to ease concerns over David Cameron’s plans to extend the criminal charge of wilful neglect to children’s social workers.
Responding to social workers on Twitter, Isabelle Trowler said it would be very difficult to secure a conviction under the proposals, which would give courts the power to imprison social workers for up to five years.
She posted a message on the social networking site, saying the move, “comes with [the] territory of holding responsibility on behalf of the state”, but added that she thought it, “would be [very] difficult to secure a conviction”.
“Not least because I can’t remember ever thinking poor practice was a result of wilful neglect/reckless practice,” she said.
‘Concern, not defence’
Trowler said the government’s announcement “matches the public [and] political mood” and urged social workers to engage with the consultation process. “Just saying it’s terrible won’t win the argument,” she said.
In a formal statement to Community Care, Trowler said social workers’ first reaction to the plans “should not be one of defence, but of concern for the people we serve”.
“We must focus on the experiences of the victims of abuse, their families and local communities, who feel too often so failed by public services…As a profession we must therefore fully engage with the upcoming consultation,” she said
Last week, Cameron announced his decision to consult on extending the crime of wilful neglect to children’s social workers. The profession reacted furiously to the announcement, with one social worker launching a petition in a bid to prevent the move.
The petition has so far been signed by over 9,000 people, while 90% of 8,442 people polled by Community Care said they do not agree with the prime minister’s proposals.