Immediate action was promised by ministers following a damning
indictment of social work in the Scottish Borders,
writes Maggie Wood.
Peter Peacock minister for education and young people, responded
to a report into the serious abuse of four people with learning
difficulties by saying that he had never come across “a more
appalling and harrowing case than this”.
Two separate reports by the Social Work Services Inspectorate
(SWSI) and the Mental Welfare Commission (MWC) conclude that
failures at every level allowed four people with learning
difficulty to be seriously abused and neglected over a period of 30
The case involves a woman with learning difficulties, previously
referred to as Miss X, who was admitted to hospital in March 2002
having suffered extreme levels of physical and sexual abuse.
Although only one woman was at the centre of media attention,
three other people are now known to have suffered serious sexual
abuse and physical neglect.
Peacock said: “Over 30 years a catalogue of failures in
social work and health services in the Borders allowed three people
to be seriously sexually abused, and another to be seriously
He added: “The report tells a depressingly familiar tale
which resonates with the findings of all too many inquiries down
the years into child abuse cases.”
He pledged immediate and wide ranging action, which will include
new inspection arrangements and a joint inspection regime for
learning difficulty services. He has also asked the Scottish Social
Services Council to decide whether in the light of the report, any
members of staff are fit to be registered as social workers.
Peacock has also pledged to take a fundamental look at social
work in Scotland: “Social work legislation dates back to the
“Today marks a watershed in the way we think about social work.
We will take whatever actions are necessary to ensure, as far as is
humanly possible, that Scotland’s vulnerable citizens are not
let down in this way again.”