Prison threat will deter social workers

Scottish social work leaders have warned that proposals to
prosecute failing social workers would make them more risk averse
in their practice.

The proposals, part of a wholesale children’s services reform
outlined last week by the Scottish executive, could see social
workers sent to prison if they are deemed to have failed a child in

Duncan MacAulay, general manager at Edinburgh Council’s health and
social care department, said he was concerned the move would
undermine professionals’ confidence and put others off coming into
the field.

He said: “I support accountability but the threat of the sword over
people’s heads could drive them away from the profession.”

Maggie Mellon, director of children and families at charity
Children 1st, said the proposal was “crazy” and that the fear of
making mistakes would affect professionals’ ability to work
together and be creative.

Tom Wood, chair of the Edinburgh drug action team, called the
proposals “unhelpful”. He added: “Professionals are more than aware
of their responsibilities. Threats will force them to take a more
mechanistic approach to decision-making.”

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