Social Skirmishes

Rosie Warlock, a senior practitioner in children’s social services, tells us what’s on her mind in her weekly column

I apologise for not writing an amusing Christmassy column this week. I was going to make up something about a visit to Lapland New Forest with a groupof children but thought I’d bea ccused of blatant opportunism, just so I could use my “elf-esteem”joke. So instead I’m going to bleat on about media debates.

I’ve got to say I’ve had enough of the hogwash that I’m hearing from debates on programmes like Question Time and Newsnighta bout the state of social services in this country.

First there was the Daily Mail’s Melanie Phillips on QT the other week describing how more police control of cases is “the answer” to our child protection problems. Social workers, she felt, were ill-equipped to make decisions because they are trained to keep families together and to see the good in people.So, she was asked by Dimbleby, how would the police be able to improve matters? A sublime look of confusion clouded her face as she faced what she had always known but didn’t want to say. “Of course, the police have also made mistakes in the past,” and then realising that her argument hadc ollapsed around her, she alloweda nother panellist to take over.

This week, on Newsnight, columnist for The Times CamillaCavendish took on veteran campaigner Beatrix Campbellover social services’involvement in the dreadful Sharon Matthews case. Cavendish seemed to be saying that thecriteria used by social workers in protection decisions are wrong, so children are taken away when they shouldn’t be and are often left with dangerous carers. How could she not have realised that she had beautifully summed up the lot of child protection staff.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

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