Case has damaged social work’s image

The high-profile case
of Victoria Climbie has had a negative impact on the public perception of
social work and social workers, according to a new survey carried out by NOP on
behalf of Community Care.

The findings,
published this week, show that 41 per cent of those polled said that publicity
surrounding the case had lowered their opinion of social workers. Only 4 per
cent felt it had had a positive impact, and 47 per cent said their opinion
remained unchanged.

By the time Victoria
died in February 2000, she had come into contact with three local authorities,
two hospitals and the Metropolitan Police.

Despite concerns of
neglect and abuse, Victoria was repeatedly returned to the care of Kouao and
her boyfriend Manning. During their trial Haringey social worker Lisa
Arthurworrey was singled out by the prosecution for criticism and came under
intense media scrutiny.

Haringey’s director
of social services Anne Bristow told a press conference at the end of the trial:
“As the lead child protection agency, we could have acted to protect this child
and accept our responsibility for our failure.”

The media has also
reported inquiry evidence of chaotic duty social work systems at Brent and
Ealing Councils. Child protection expert Catherine Watkins said she was not
surprised that criticism of social workers in the inquiry had had some negative

 “People are going to report it – and the
public have a right to hear it. But it would be nice if somewhere in the article
there was some redress, pointing out that the social workers are not the
murderers and that they actually do a lot of good work.”

What do you think
should be done to restore the public’s confidence in child protection services?
Do you think another case like Victoria Climbie could happen again? Have your
say and join the online debate by e-mailing your point to us at

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