Social work staff fired for accessing confidential files of toddler who was beaten to death

The council dismissed the nine workers for viewing files without authorisation, but has no plans to change its systems

Nine social services workers have lost their jobs after accessing the confidential files of three-year-old Mikaeel Kular, who was beaten to death by his mother.

Fife Council launched an internal investigation after it was reported as many as 25 people may have accessed the files without authorisation.

Mikaeel died in January 2014 from injuries inflicted by his mother Rosdeep Adekoya, who buried his body in a suitcase in a wooded area several miles from their Edinburgh home.

Police alerted

Police Scotland was alerted to claims the confidential information had been accessed, but said since no criminal complaint had been made it was a matter for internal investigation by the council.

The council said this was an issue with individual staff members’ conduct and not with the council’s systems.

Systems not at fault

Craig Munro, director of Fife children’s services, said: “We have a clear internal process for dealing with discipline issues and we don’t comment publicly on the individual circumstances of staff.”  

Adekoya was sentenced to 11 years in prison for culpable homicide last August.

Her son had been taken into care twice and was being monitored by social workers until the month before his death.

A serious case review to examine whether social workers could have prevented his death is underway.

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10 Responses to Social work staff fired for accessing confidential files of toddler who was beaten to death

  1. Sharon Shoesmith April 14, 2015 at 11:06 am #

    Why were the files not immediately secured?
    Why were they accessible?
    Why is it nothing to do with the Council’s systems?

    • patrick graham April 14, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

      “immediately secured?”
      The piece above does not make it clear when the files were accessed – if it was before the discovery of his body it makes the system management look less awful than if it was afterwards. If the latter then I suspect the statement above is a knee jerk defensive statement that will not stand scrutiny.

    • CK April 14, 2015 at 2:02 pm #

      Secured against what? The prying eyes of public servants who are entrusted to maintain confidentiality and who, frankly, should have known better?

  2. Mark McDougall April 14, 2015 at 12:57 pm #

    It is clear that this social work department is unfit for purpose. I suspect with the amount of sackings here, that there is something going on behind the scenes that we don’t yet know about.

  3. Asye April 14, 2015 at 7:04 pm #

    It’s a shame we don’t know the full story. Are we saying that a case should be locked and all of its information be restricted until a manager gives the all clear? What if a child needs possible safeguarding and the case files hold information and no manager’s are in the office? Will we need another form to fill out and waste more time?
    All serious case reviews in the most part highlight failings on sharing information, we can’t even share information in our own organisation seems pretty weird.
    I also like the emphasis on a SSW’s, more us and them and the reality is SSW’s actually see children more than SW’s.

  4. Jadwiga Leigh April 15, 2015 at 7:35 am #

    What Sharon means is that when a child dies the case files are immediately secured by the agency so no one can access them within the authority. As a social worker when a child was seriously injured in our authority I immediately wanted to access the case files to see what had happened because I was frightened that I (or we) had done something wrong which had led to the child’s death. It’s a natural reaction for social workers to do this not a sinister one. The last thing a social worker wants is for a child to be injured or harmed which is why many enter the profession in the first place.

  5. Shelagh Read April 15, 2015 at 1:54 pm #

    Implying more that 25 staff viewed the file suggests it was for voyeuristic reasons.
    Files should only be viewed on a need to know basis.. Often friends or relatives my be in receipt of a service and are entitled to confidentiality. However sacking seems harsh if it was their first breach of conduct. A written warning and training would seem more appropriate.

  6. Naomi Wright April 15, 2015 at 3:49 pm #

    I think it not sacking offence as long as they did not pass it to the public domain. Especially if it the information was access by 25 members of the same team or local authority. It needs to be scrutinised more so that their jobs is re-instated. Viewing information as a social worker should not be sack able offence – it is good to know what is happening so you can learn from it not to be sack.

  7. John Wilks April 15, 2015 at 4:25 pm #

    “Nothing to do with Council systems”. Quite porous, then!

  8. Samantha Morgans April 16, 2015 at 9:39 am #

    There is severe lack of information here. It does not state when or for what purpose the files were accessed. Is this over a period of time or all at once? It clearly criminalises the SSW’s but for what reasons other than accessing confidential files. There has to be some other reason. And how would they gain access? if they are restricted then the system has to be at fault surely or perhaps someone is allowing access but that seems a little far fetched. Why for this particular case? I could go on….

    Twenty five is the number that actually accessed these files according to the report further down but in the title only nine were sacked so why were some reprimanded and some not? Personally it comes across as a sharp shock attack on SSW in general without any concrete evidence for us to make an informed decision on what we are reading.

    I agree, sacking does sound harsh. What they planned to do with or what they may have done with the information would surely denote the punishment not tarnish them all with the same brush.