The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) has requested a meeting with Lord Justice Wall, the new president of the family division of the High Court, after his comments that social workers are perceived as “arrogant and enthusiastic removers of children”.
BASW chief executive Hilton Dawson said: “Generalising comments about ‘authoritarian’ social workers is just plain wrong. At a time when the profession is under huge media pressure to protect children from abuse, comments like these are inappropriate – they have a direct and significant impact on social work morale, recruitment, retention and therefore on the people that social work serves.”
Wall’s comments were made during two hearings last Friday in the Court of Appeal in which Greenwich and Devon councils were challenged on decisions to remove children from their family homes.
Devon Council failed to overturn a judgement that an adolescent mother should be given a final chance to prove herself able to keep her child; Greenwich lost a case against the mother of two children the local authority wanted to put into care because the estranged father was physically abusive. Greenwich Council said it suspected the parents were still in contact with each other.
Not all social workers, however, are outraged at Wall’s interpretation of the situations.
Community Care CareSpace user Rupert M said: “Lord Justice Wall makes a valid point – we have moved from too much drift to children being taken into care. By their second reviews, permanency plans are expected to be in place – four months only! It is little short of scandalous and gives parents almost no opportunity to turn their lives around despite the fact that we know all too well just how damaging care can be.”
Another user, Hound, said: “I am certainly not completely against Wall – from what I read he is a very popular choice, is highly experienced in children’s work and will not be afraid to speak his mind. I think, however, his language was somewhat misjudged and I hope that he comes out with some more balanced comments regarding good practice where this exists. This is important if he intends to challenge policymakers, as he has indicated he is likely to.”
- What do you think of Wall’s comments? Have your say on CareSpace