Words by Rachel Carter
The courts rely on social workers to be professional, expert witnesses, said Judge Bryer at the launch of Medway council’s new social work academy on Monday. He told social workers at the event that the law was a constantly changing and complex world, but they should not forget the essential part they play in it. Here are three vital tips he shared for social workers appearing before a tribunal:
1. Provide focused, good quality evidence
Social workers must remember that the judges “weren’t there” when they collect evidence to give before a tribunal. They should gather the best evidence possible, in order to present a clear and coherent account of the events in question.
2. Produce accurate reports
It is important for social workers to proofread reports before sending them to the courts. Beware of cutting and pasting – it is not uncommon for reports to refer to an incorrect service user when brought before a tribunal.
3. Prepare to be challenged
In some cases, experienced social workers may have to write independent reports that ask the court to take a different view from that of the social worker who wrote the original report. Social workers must therefore be prepared to be challenged, but if they present correct facts and records then they have nothing to fear.