Man charged with attempted murder after social worker stabbed during home visit

Practitioner has injuries that "are not life-changing" as council promises support for him and colleagues following incident during welfare check

Metropolitan Police flashing blue lights image
Photo: Metropolitan Police Service

Story updated, 10 August 

A man has been charged after a social worker was stabbed during a home visit in London last Friday evening (6 August).

Sulai Bukhari, 33, of Noel Park Road, Wood Green, has been charged with one count of attempted murder and two counts of attempting to causing grievous bodily harm with intent. He appeared at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court on Monday (9 August) and has been remanded in custody to appear at Wood Green Crown Court on 6 September.

The 61-year-old social worker, who works for Haringey council, was stabbed multiple times while carrying out a welfare check on children in the area. The Metropolitan Police said he had injuries that were not life-changing.

Two police officers were also assaulted in the incident. Both were taken to hospital but were discharged on Saturday morning.

Haringey council leader Peray Ahmet said: “Social workers do an incredibly important job. Their safety is of uppermost importance to us. This type of incident, while rare, is an important reminder that frontline staff across the public sector put themselves in harm’s way to do their jobs and we should all express our thanks and support for them as they do so.”

She added: “Haringey Council will provide all the necessary support to him as he recovers from this traumatic incident and to our wider teams, who will of course be concerned by what has happened.”

Responding to the incident on Twitter on Saturday, chief social worker for children and families Isabelle Trowler described it as “shocking attack on a social worker in the line of duty”, adding: “I am so relieved he has not sustained life-threatening injuries [but] it shows the reality of child protection practice.”

Social Work England said it was “saddened” to hear of the attack on the social worker. It added: “Working alongside health and social care colleagues, social workers are at the forefront of keeping others safe. They face difficult and challenging circumstances daily, whilst offering support to millions of people when they need it the most.

“This is a shocking incident, and our thoughts are with the social worker, his family and friends, and colleagues in the police who were also involved. We are relieved to hear that everyone is now on their way to recovery.”

In addition to Bukhari, two men were arrested in connection with incident and were then released under investigation.

12 Responses to Man charged with attempted murder after social worker stabbed during home visit

  1. Carol August 9, 2021 at 11:48 am #

    Appears nobody is considering the psychological effects of this assault. We have heard so much about the effect of ‘lockdowns’ on mental health but hey, being stabbed or threat of it is no problem obviously as its ‘non life changing’! How would this poor Social Worker ever be able to turn up at someones door and not feel stress and anxiety!

    • Olivia August 9, 2021 at 1:08 pm #

      Well said Carol – I thought exactly the same

    • GPW August 12, 2021 at 3:21 pm #

      I think you’re reading an awful lot into a brief statement. How do you know ‘nobody is considering the psychological effects’? The term non life changing is descriptive, not judgemental.

  2. Debbie August 9, 2021 at 1:08 pm #

    I think all social workers need to demand a meeting with their senior management team, about this incident to establish what the organisations response is, what needs to be looked at and changed. This is not the first attack on a social worker and the reality is no-one cares. we are still being sent out there, often by ourselves. Local authorities are unfortunately only concerned with their stats and OFSTED ratings. Staff well-being unfortunately comes way down in the list of priorities and we need to make a stand to ensure that this changes

    • CR August 9, 2021 at 5:22 pm #

      I agree Debbie, social workers must take a stand if they are put in vulnerable and unsafe situations. Yes this case and scenario should be discussed with managers, and if safety is not felt to be prioritized it can of course be raised further with your trade union, and campaigned for on a broader level. Situations like this are completely unacceptable.

  3. Sabine August 9, 2021 at 2:16 pm #

    Question is also ‘would he want to’. It is one of those incidents that make you rethink your priorities in life. When I made it back to the office, and we were waiting for the police to come, he was concerned that he might leave a tad later than he wanted to. The WPC took me to hospital for a check-up, X-ray. Subsequently the response I got from some others was on the line of ‘oh, only physical????
    It affects you in all areas of life, even simple things are difficult to manage for quite some time.

  4. Nick Johnson August 9, 2021 at 2:22 pm #

    I agree with Carol above. I am also concerned about the changed nature of social work practice that makes contact ‘topical’, rather than relational. Social work cannot be practiced effectively like an A&E department in which symptoms are diagnosed and treatments given. It has to be based on a developing relationship that enables the people using the service and the social worker to meet on a mutually respectful footing, even when what is being undertaken may not be what a family wants. This is one of the fundamental differences between health and social care.

  5. Christina August 9, 2021 at 3:25 pm #

    Psychological injuries can be life-changing. Shame on the Met police for saying this social workers injuries are not life changing. How can they possibly know this? My thoughts are with this social worker who was simply doing his job to protect children.

  6. Laura Soulsby August 9, 2021 at 4:01 pm #

    This has been a wake up call . I have been retired for two years and it seems little has changed in social work. Social workers are still looked down upon by other health professionals, are still expected to put themselves at risk and go into situations that the police would not go into without protection. It is an extremely demanding job both emotionally and physically, and social workers are expected to be able to be exceptionally emotionally resilient. The rewards are dismal, with increasing pressure to cope with huge caseloads, and keep themselves updated for their CPD portfolios with no extra time given by management to enable them to do this.
    I would never advise anyone to go into social work. I loved my job but it was glaringly obvious to me that it is an undervalued profession by politicians and society as a whole.

  7. Julia Work August 9, 2021 at 8:37 pm #

    Not life changing?? I would assume it is likely that at 61 this social worker will decide he is not going back to this job that has caused him such harm and had the potential to take him from his own family. His whole life has changed in a few moments.

  8. Sue August 10, 2021 at 8:55 am #

    I think the phrase life changing is used very poorly here. Non Life threatening yes, but very life changing!!
    I would think that the worker, whilst might get back on the bike for a short period of time is unlikely to continue with their career after such an incident. I hope the local authority treats them with respect and support as there will be potential PTSD from such a traumatic incident. Very life changing in my book!

  9. Tom J August 12, 2021 at 10:01 am #

    Interesting to hear Social Work England offer their support. However if a complaint was ever made about this or any other social worker’s practice they would take up to, and over one year to offer a resolution. Imagine the stress of having a complaint hanging over you for one week let alone one year. Whilst meanwhile the social worker is expected to keep calm and carry on whilst the snails pace Social Work England investigation takes place.

    So my advice to Social Work England is; words like this are nice, but actions are what matters.