Lisa Arthurworrey defended herself against criticisms that social workers should be able to deal with cases without constant supervison as her Care Standards Tribunal appeal drew to a close.
Summing up the General Social Care Council’s case against registering Arthurworrey, counsel Eleanor Grey said: “A qualified social worker is expected to be able to operate independently without constant supervisory input,” adding they could not refer “every decision to a manager”.
But Arthurworrey hit back, arguing that Lord Laming had described supervision as the “cornerstone” of good social work practice in his report into Victoria Climbie’s death.
It emerged during Laming’s inquiry that Arthurworrey, who was a relatively inexperienced social worker when allocated Victoria’s case in 1999, had poor and infrequent supervision and had been “badly let down” by managers.
But Grey argued that social workers could not rely purely on supervision and Arthurworrey could have sought help from colleagues if she was struggling with the case.
Out of depth
In her written submission, Grey said: “If a relatively inexperienced social worker feels out of their depth there is a special responsibility to seek guidance.”
But Arthurworrey said at the time of dealing with the case in late 1999 she was one of the most experienced members of the team.
Arthuworrey’s application to register with the GSCC was rejected on grounds including competence and character. In her closing submissions, Grey highlighted poorely conducted interviews carried out with Victoria and great aunt Marie Therese Kouao as evidence of incompetence, saying interviewing was a “basic tool for social workers”.
She rejected Arthurworrey’s argument that she had not been trained in writing memorandums as a “red herring” and said junior professionals would be more likely to devote more time to preparing for interviews, not less, to compensate for their lack of experience.
Grey went on to say that Arthurworret’s failure to inform the GSCC of two criminal convictions, one of which was for harassment in December 2006, and Arthurworrey’s admission that she had sent inappropraute e-mails to the GSCC when under “intense pressure” showed she could not “conduct herself properly outside of the work sphere”.
“She is seeking to return to social work as a social worker but will inevitably face real stresses in practice if she does,” Grey said.
In his written submission, Arthurworrey’s representative from the British Association of Social Workers, Martin Weinbren, argued: “There has been no suggestion that away from the area of child protection Ms Arthurworrey lacks competence as a social worker. The effect of registration refusal is to prevent her from working as a social worker in any setting.”
He added that Arthuworrey’s convictions should be seen in the context of her health problems, which include anxiety and depression.
Some of the issues the hearing focused included:
• Failure to carry out adequate investigations
Arthurworrey failed to question Victoria about injuries on 6 August 1999. Arthurworrey said she had not been trained in how to carry out memorandum interviews but the GSCC counsel argued that she should have been able to talk to Victoria about everyday life and experiences and that she should have sought guidance from colleagues and procedures in the absence of supervision. She was also criticised for failing to take an intepreter along, which was considered a failure to think through the nature of the interview and what was required of a very young girl.
Arthurworrey was given a restraining order in December 2006 after being convicted of harassing a neighbour. She was later arrested for breaching the order in December 2007. She pleaded guilty and was fined.
More on the case