Baby P: GSCC confirms interim suspensions for social workers

The General Social Care Council has confirmed it has suspended two social workers at Haringey Council while officials investigate their actions concerning the family of Baby P.

Interim suspension orders were imposed on Maria Ward, the practitioner assigned to the case, and her manager, Gillie Christou, on 10 December last year. This means they will not be able to practise as social workers for the duration of the orders, which last for six months.

Ward and Christou have been suspended from social work duties by their employers in the London borough, along with a third social worker, Sylvia Henry, since 1 December. Their positions will be reconsidered following an internal review of safeguarding arrangements.

Baby P not subject to care proceedings

Social workers at Haringey Council’s children’s services placed Baby P on the child protection register in December 2006, but decided against issuing care proceedings. The 17-month-old child was found dead in his cot in August 2007 having suffered multiple injuries.

The GSCC announced it was conducting preliminary enquiries into the social workers’ practice on 13 November 2008, two days after three adults, including Baby P’s mother, were convicted of causing or allowing the child’s death at the Old Bailey.

Media coverage

News of the suspension orders came as The Sun repeated its call for Ward, Christou, and other children’s services officers involved in the case to be sacked and banned from working with children again.

Community Care challenged the newspaper’s biased and inaccurate reporting of the case in an open letter to the editor, Rebekah Wade, earlier this month. A related petition on the Number 10 website has attracted more than 3,000 signatures in three weeks.

GSCC to decide on hearing

A spokesperson for the GSCC said that given the seriousness of the case, officials were hoping to finish their enquiries as soon as possible, while ensuring the process was fair.

The regulator is expected to make a decision about whether to hold a conduct hearing, which could result in Ward and Christou’s removal from the social work register, around the beginning of April.

Baby P’s mother, her boyfriend, and another man, Jason Owen, will be sentenced for their involvement in the boy’s death in April.

Related articles

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Expert guide to Baby P

External information

Information on the conduct process from the General Social Care Council website

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