The expectations of social workers working in forensic mental health services have been set out in guidance published by the Department of Health.
The ‘capabilities framework’, which includes a specialist knowledge and skills statement for practitioners working forensic settings, aims to complement the generic Professional Capabilities Framework that sets out standards and development options for all social workers.
Daisy Bogg, one of the co-authors of the guidance, said after a period of high attention on forensic work in the 1990s, social work in this context had too often been “ignored” since and the framework was an important step in highlighting the role of social perspectives in forensic services.
“This is a really specialist area, they are largely working with part three of the Mental Health Act and in the context of public protection law. They have to negotiate not only their statutory duties to their local authorities but also work with a specialist part of the health system and on top of that the criminal justice system and Ministry of Justice requirements.
“The guidance is about building on what’s there already through the PCF. The project has been about listening to what social workers felt was needed. There’s been a lot of consultation. I hope it helps forensic social workers articulate their unique contribution in these multidisciplinary teams.”
The guidance has been backed by Lyn Romeo, the chief social worker for adults, who said it would also help commissioners and providers develop appropriate training and development to support frontline staff.