Zahawi: take children into care when ‘any inkling of harm’

Education secretary also says he is open to reforming Children Act in wake of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes case

Nadhim Zahawi
Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi

Story updated 8 December

Children should be removed from their families if there is “any inkling” of harm to them, the education secretary has said.

Nadhim Zahawi made the comment in response to a question from fellow Conservative MP Bob Blackman following his statement on the government’s response to the Arthur Labinjo-Hughes case yesterday.

Blackman had said that what Arthur’s case had in common with those of Peter Connolly (2007), Victoria Climbié (2000) and Jasmine Beckford (1984) was that “opportunities to take a child to safety were missed”.

He added: “Will [Zahawi] make sure that the message goes out to frontline children’s social workers that if they have a suspicion—a suspicion—of a child being abused, it will be thoroughly investigated, and if necessary that child will be removed to a place of safety?”

In his response, Zahawi, referencing the national review and joint area inspection he had commissioned to learn lessons from Arthur’s case, said: “I think social workers are doing a tremendous job, and I think it is important that multi-agency work—for whatever reason, and we will find out through these two reviews—missed Arthur in this case and did not take him away.

‘Take child away if inkling of harm’

“The father and partner were obviously evil and manipulative, but nevertheless we have to make sure, if there is any evidence, any inkling, any iota of harm to any child, that the child is taken away immediately.”

He was later asked by another Conservative MP, Laura Trott, about the risks of responses to Arthur’s case leading to a significant increase in referrals and children being taken into care, as happened following Peter Connolly’s case.

Trott said: “We need an increase in resources for social workers in the near term to handle that increase in referrals, and I do think that a balance needs to be struck between taking children away from their parents, or the home that they are in, and making sure that they are safe. Will he ensure that he sends that message to social workers?”

In response, Zahawi delivered a similar message to the one he gave Blackman: “She is absolutely right about how social workers identify support networks for children—I have seen them do that brilliantly. Of course, if there is a scintilla of doubt in terms of any harm being caused to a child, they absolutely should be taken away.

“She also makes an important point about learning from previous cases and the additional work that will now be placed on the social work frontline. We are cognisant of that, and I know that the minister for children and families [Will Quince] is looking at how we can continue to support the frontline.”

Children Act reform not ruled out

Zahawi’s line seems to go beyond that provided for by the Children Act 1989, which makes suffering, or being likely to suffer, significant harm as the threshold for a care order (section 31), with reasonable suspicion of this being sufficient for an emergency protection order (section 44).

During the session, Conservative MP David Simmonds asked Zahawi, who was children’s minister from 2018-19, whether he agreed whether the Children Act 1989 was “perhaps in need of updating”.

In response, Zahawi said any decision on legislative change would need to await the national review into Arthur’s case, the joint area inspection of Solihull and the children’s social care review.

However, he said: “I will not rule out legislative changes if we need to make them.”

‘We cannot have kneejerk reactions’

Zahawi’s comments were criticised by the British Association of Social Workers, who said: “We understand that this is a highly emotive issue, and we absolutely must ensure legislation and guidance is robust on child protection, but we cannot have kneejerk reactions.

“It is premature for the government to be discussing legislative changes to the Children’s Act 1989 while we still wait for more information and conclusions from reviews that are being undertaken.

“All changes to legislation and guidance should go through the proper parliamentary and consultation processes to make sure that we get it right – because we simply cannot afford to get it wrong. Especially not for the many children and young people who receive support from social workers every single day.”

Children ‘best with their family where possible’

In its response to Zahawi’s comments, Association of Directors of Children’s Services president Charlotte Ramsden said “the principle that wherever possible children are best placed in their family…sits at the heart of social work and is enshrined in the Children Act 1989”.

She added: “The tension between early intervention and the prompt removal of children from a dangerous situation must be acknowledged as should the real difficulties and dilemmas faced by our staff when making complex, life changing decisions to keep children safe from harm based on the multi-agency information assessment and analysis available at that time.

“We welcome the recognition by the secretary of state for education that the effectiveness of the multi-agency system is crucial to assist in these decisions and that the plan for the national panel review and the [joint targeted area inspection] reflect this.”

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41 Responses to Zahawi: take children into care when ‘any inkling of harm’

  1. Tonya Harrison December 7, 2021 at 10:41 pm #

    I find it really scary how quick ministers are to point the finger. Arthur’s death has been tragic and there will be lessons to learn but sepeation of parents from their children due to ilklings of harm is not proportionate, achievable or sustainable. State care is not the answer. Lessons have to be learnt and resources need to support the capacity of these lessons to change foundations.

    • Kelvin lord December 8, 2021 at 8:11 am #

      Well said .
      It seems to me that teaching children and adults alike that some children and adults are “evil ” is part of the cause of mental illness and partly causes behaviour like child murder , suicide etc .
      A paradigm shift of our thoughts and understanding and education is needed .
      Accusations and suspicious cynical attitudes can drive some people to severe mental illness , murder , suicide and worse.

  2. Carol December 7, 2021 at 11:08 pm #

    The family courts and the care system are overstretched at the moment because of far too many referrals from local authorities based on assumptions of future harm to children without evidence of ‘any inkling of harm’ to the child. Such families need support not court but we are led to believe there aren’t the resources for this. Too many families and children’s lives are being destroyed by these ‘predictions of harm’.

    I just fear that unfortunately Mr Zahawi’s comments will not create a balanced and fair approach to children’s social care, which it desperately needs, but will set a fear amongst professionals of missing an ‘inkling’ of harm which will only serve to increase referrals of children taken into care based on ‘possible future risk’ which is exactly what happened after Peter Connelly.

    • Kelvin lord December 8, 2021 at 8:21 am #

      Well said
      The people in positions of power will do a lot better if they can start to realise that the more important the area of reality the more important it is to get there facts right .
      With real logic and top quality accurate perceptions of the most important realities

    • Michael wolff December 9, 2021 at 4:08 pm #

      I agree, the comments of politicians are destructive to the cause. We already take away far too many children in this countrybin comparrisson to europe and the USA.
      The baby p story had caused un beliveable heartache in thousands of innocent families as a result of a similar over reaction. The social workers are so firightened of criticism that they will default to take children away, the courts are overwhelmed and too lean to guilt just in case.
      I know because it happened in my familiy.

  3. Michelle December 8, 2021 at 8:47 am #

    There is a spectrum of parenting not just good, loving parent and bad, unloving and evil parent that wants to hurt their child. There are combinations of factors that result in loving but struggling parents that under pressure will hurt their children. They need the encouragement and practical support to relieve those pressures, NOT increased fear that a social worker involved in their lives will mean their children are going to be removed from their care. It will only breed contempt and make social workers’ work more difficult.

  4. frasierfanclub1 December 8, 2021 at 9:40 am #

    The Children Act 9 has been updated on a regular basis in order to reflect changes and developments i the past 30 years. The media, public and politicians are currently basing their understanding of what happened on the benefit of hindsight and knowledge which was not available to social workers and police. If the social worker visited, saw the yellowing bruise, spoke to Arthur on his own then what other conclusion could they have reached? The reason we cannot imagine the most depraved scenarios and investigate them on the offchance is that we are not deprved.

  5. Yvonne December 8, 2021 at 10:07 am #

    It is so easy to cast blame at social workers. Successive governments have come in and jumped on the this band wagon every time the death of a child happens on their watch. However if there is to be blame then we should all accept our part. As citizens we will see and hear children being mis-treated and must report because, because we must do all we can. Neighbours, friends and the wider community as well as the universal services are the eyes and ears.
    Unfortunately the policy of forcing families to be self sufficient is still present because the main purpose is to reduce the spend on social care. Hence constant reduction in funding from central government.
    I am aware of Social workers in London carrying up to 30 children on their caseload. They cannot sleep because they are worried they may have missed something. The work that is generated around each child who is either a Child in Need or Child Looked After or Child in Care is enormous and yet senior managers up and down the country will push for social workers to carry high caseloads, often to ensure there is an allocated social worker on the system. The Local authorities often cannot afford to employ more social workers or more worrying there are not enough social workers as so many have left or are leaving the profession.
    I have been a social worker for 37 years and it pains me to see the lack of support offered to social workers, the demonisation of my profession has been constant. Unless politicians truly appreciate the challenges faced by social workers and others working within this sector the blaming will continue and what will happen to the most vulnerable members of our society.

  6. Carolyne December 8, 2021 at 10:28 am #

    What a ridiculous thing to say Zahawi, which planet do you live on, being so far removed from what is really happening in the world of child protection!! There are not enough placements nationally for the children that are already or that need to be in care because they are already suffering or likely to suffer harm!!!
    What is needed are more resources, better support to those of us that already do a very demanding and at times distressing job!! Stop the negative portrayal of Social Work in the media and really find out what we actually do!!!

  7. John Thomas December 8, 2021 at 11:13 am #

    This approach is going to cause immense damage to children by the government, some families just need extra support, and have never harmed their children, but because they ask for help they get their children removed. Families our entitled to help especially for disabled children, section 17 of the children’s act is very rarely implemented, not even by the courts. It has never been due to lack of resources, the money is always available for court proceedings, and foster placements, it’s a distribution of funds that is the problem, they will not fund children to be able to stay with there parents were it is safe to do so, which would cost a fraction of the cost for court proceedings, and going into care, which has very poor outcomes for children. The family courts need to be investigated and opened up to the public, they are making very unsafe decisions, the whole system is not fit for purpose, you have innocent families being torn apart, and abusive families left to do the unthinkable. This approach is going to give social workers even more power to abuse innocent families, when they already have autonomy. The government needs to come up with a more balanced approach to child protection, not just something I’ll thought out to calm public outrage over this case.

  8. Ray Jones December 8, 2021 at 11:18 am #

    This is EXCEPTIONALLY serious and concerning. It is shocking. It raises serious questions about what advice and briefing is being given to the Secretary of State.

    The secretary of state has said:

    “We have to make sure, if there is any evidence, any inkling, any iota of harm to any child, that the child is taken away immediately.”

    “If there is a scintilla of doubt in terms of any harm being caused to a child, they absolutely should be taken away.

    “I will not rule out legislative changes if we need to make them.”

    This totally re-sets the context, expectations and intentions of what children’s social services, the police, and the courts are to do. It undermines the legislation which was carefully crafted and which the Secretary of State now indicates he will change to achieve the removal of large numbers of children from families. It will include amongst many others the more than 50,000 children with child protection plans and the over 200,000 children a year where ‘an inkling’ of harm’ and a ‘scintilla of doubt’ leads to Section 47 child protection inquiries and investigations, and which should now lead to their immediate removal from their families, with the Secretary of State stating that ” the child is [to be] taken away immediately” if there is any concerns abut possible ‘iota of harm’.

    The media stories today might be about covid law-breaking Christmas parties at the Prime Minister’s residence and by a recent Secretary of State for Children, but the bigger bomb shell has just been fired by the current Secretary of State for Education. His intentions are clear and to be feared by all children and families – remove loads and loads more children from families, do it quickly, and based on any concerns at all no matter how minor or unsubstantiated.

    And the secretary of state is looking to the current review of children’s social care to advise him about what changes are necessary to achieve his intentions. So how about a separate child protection service staffed by a new breed of child protection worker and removed from helping families who are struggling and in difficulty, and re-setting the legislation so that children and families get less help but more investigations, surveillance, monitoring and with more children taken compulsorily from families. Job done!

  9. A Man Called Horse December 8, 2021 at 12:07 pm #

    First, there is no such thing as evil parents that is nonsense. Adults who abuse children are not created in a vacuum they are a product of the society they’ live in. Creating a society where children are not abused is probably impossible and however good Social workers are and whatever resources are available reducing the killing of children to zero is not possible. There are many reasons children are killed by their care providers and in some cases mental ill health is a factor, in some drugs and alcohol are factors. The key to reduction is being able to identify parents with personality disorders and other high risk behaviour and focus attention on them. What we also need to recognise that state violence against people in the form of welfare cuts and closing down local services are not helpful in building a better society or helpful in supporting parents to take care of their own children. Austerity has undoubtedly played a part in increasing the risk for such children and that needs to stop. Pointing the finger of blame at Social Workers plays to the gallery of Tories that think these children of generally poor people are worth less than the children of the middle classes. The narrative of Social workers unable to do their job creates public hostility and destroys the confidence of those doing this difficult work. Many I have no doubt seeing this narrative again will look for alternative work as there is no one looking after the welfare of Social workers. The chief social worker again has nothing to say in defending Social workers against an avalanche of abse from the media.

  10. Helen Sheehan December 8, 2021 at 12:46 pm #

    I am staggered at the suggestion of removal of children when “there is an inkling of harm”. The minister needs to consider the Paper “Clear Blue Water” which proposes the opposite. Care is not an answer, but recourses and funding of a broken and sinking system is.

    • Angela December 10, 2021 at 5:45 pm #

      Well said. What happened to Early Intervention to support vulnerable families? A valuable and important resource which has been stripped away, ultimately to the detriment of children

  11. TCM December 8, 2021 at 1:45 pm #

    Alas, Nadhim and many others live on a different planet. Social work can hardly safeguard the cases we have open, never mind the influx we will now have following this tragic case.

    Pastoral support workers, School Nurses, etc up and down the country will be reviewing every child they see, parents they don’t like or cant not communicate with and referring to children services

    LA don’t have the finances, resources such as Foster placements to cope at this point . With so many leaving safeguarding services or don’t want to work in frontline SW..

  12. Kim December 8, 2021 at 3:41 pm #

    Children should only be brought into care where there are no safe family / friends (friends can also be assessed as carers) for them to be with. It is not a ‘one size fits all’. However, when it is clear that a child has suffered harm then they should absolutely be safeguarded until all investigations are completed. Perhaps that would have safeguarded Arthur and other children like him.

    A more sensible approach would be to address Grandparents rights within law to ensure that if a child is being harmed that they can step in as a safe place for the child.

    Something needs to be done to support social workers who actually care about the work they do and give them the time and resources with which to do it.

    No one can assess a family without building strong working relationships and this ‘race in / race out / close it down’ culture needs to stop.

    Also there are not enough placements available for the children who do need to be placed in care and this is endemic in the UK.

    The key here for me is to work ‘with’ families, ensure we know the ‘history’, and always always always get the ‘VOICE OF THE CHILD’.

  13. JT December 8, 2021 at 3:45 pm #

    Social care works on a basis that neurodiversity is a problem, such cases are treated the same as cases of abuse , care not support, is the solution. Social workers are trained to be as economical as possible with the truth to ensure this outcome.

    The care system is then underressouced to cope effectively with genuine cases where care orders and plans are needed

  14. Alistair Herbert December 8, 2021 at 4:23 pm #

    I’m far from an expert myself, but I worry that Nadhim Zahawi here demonstrates a critical lack of understanding about how social care, and indeed how childhood, actually works. Removing children from their parents is often itself a cause of huge harm, and social workers have to balance different risks every time they see a vulnerable child. To say “there’s a tiny risk of harm here, therefore we will replace this child’s parents” looks like a catastrophically reductive policy stance.

  15. Alec Fraher December 8, 2021 at 5:20 pm #

    Acting from a ‘place of wounds’ is inevitable,initially. Citing previous fatalities and looking for the similarities ignores this and undermines the real learning to be gained.

    Social Work as a Complex Adaptive System which is inherently governed by a Triple Complexity. This arises from the gaps between the lived realities of the population served, the formal structures of professional engagement with this reality and the observer bias in the eyes of regulation of this structure. This is the basic 1970″s thinking which shaped the Local Authorities Social Services Act. It is also the basis by which the evaluation methodologies are designed.

    And here’s the rub and choke point. Regulatory bodies don’t write their own evaluation methodologies anymore. They are written by the high end Consulting Houses who quite rightly take the lead from industry experts like former and in some instances Government ministers
    or their special advisors. They are in effect writing Amicus Briefings largely void or very selective about the practice wisdom used. They are ideological in nature. That is their purpose.

    Long run feedbacks point to a continued attack on Local Government as an economic entity, a State Owned Enterprise. Messing with the practicality of the delivery of Local Authority Social Services Act by tinkering of with the Children Act is by proxy one way to achieve this. The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 did much the same. Modernising Local Government the same too. All social welfare legislation since the 1970″s and especially since 1997 had been toward deinstitutionalisation and deregulation of State Owned Enterprise, the EU and US path dependencies and trade agreements were very much a feature of this. We have known this, evidentially, since 2005. The DofE, Ofsted and the CQC very much apart of recursive means by which the message is governed via the hidden hands of the Consultancies. Consultancies that are the route to market.

    I have said this before and as is happening in the US and if we are to take the idea of childhood seriously, then a class action is the only certain way to prepare Councils and future Government and stop them exploiting misery for ideological ends.

    Social Work is by its purpose a Middle Way profession and compromise a well trodden path
    except when it’s a compromise too far. Children and childhood, as with the care of the elderly and disabled are the price paid for economic growth.

    For CPD see Complex Society:In the Middle of the Middle World by Bojan Radej and Mojca Golobic 2021, where the notion of complexity and the likes are discussed. Its not an easy read but worth the slog.

  16. J December 9, 2021 at 8:11 am #

    What a surprise, a politician who doesn’t have an actual clue about Social Work, Child Protection, Legislation or the society we live in !

  17. Esskay December 9, 2021 at 8:45 am #

    To name but a few areas the Government needs to address:

    Cuts in mental health support services for adults and children who may already be suicidal/self harming by time they are seen – too late.
    Cuts in addiction support.
    Varying degrees of admin support per SW, leaving them stuck at a desk filling in endless forms instead of working directly with families.
    Parents put on prescription drugs/ADs without proper oversight by their prescribers, leading to psychosis or debilitating withdrawal (often diagnosed as relapse), and who are then unable to care for their child.
    Barely any funding for pastoral staff in schools, who do excellent work noticing and highlighting incidents and supporting children and families.
    No legal requirement for family to work with social services or to let them in the home or see the child.
    Loss of Legal Aid for parents wanting to implement safety measures for their child, and long waiting lists for court hearings.
    Reduced availability, due to funding, for child protection police officers to attend incidents, follow-up incidents, locate parents who are violent and missing, and a lack of time to update their paperwork.
    Poor oversight by local authorities of children being ‘home-schooled’.
    Shortage of placements for children taken into care/police protected.

    Zahawi’s response is so simplistic one wonders if he’s ever spent a day with a social worker.

  18. Sue December 9, 2021 at 5:39 pm #

    a slight knowledge or suspicion; a hint. Imagine if children could be removed on such a basis, when we already don’t have the placements or supportive resources for those that have most definitely suffered fully evidenced significant harm, way beyond any inkling!

  19. IAN JOSEPHS December 10, 2021 at 11:05 am #

    Who decides if there is what Zahawi calls an inkling? He makes no distiction between “risk” of something that has not happened( and probably never will) and actual harm confirmed by medical examination;
    If social workers concentrated on children like Arthur who was savagely harmed( but ignored despite numerous warnings) instead of “inklings ” and crystal ball predictions of future harm the care system would immediately improve out of all recognition.

  20. Kat December 10, 2021 at 2:40 pm #

    Unlike Members of Parliament (who clearly don’t have to act within the law – see current news headlines!!), social workers do. The threshold for applying to court to remove a child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm. No mention of inklings there. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

  21. Dawn W December 10, 2021 at 3:24 pm #

    Children Services are overwhelmed, fostering services struggling and caseloads too high as it is. Imagine that there was the go ahead for children to be removed from their homes because of an ‘inkling’ (subjective as that is), children would be uprooted and sent into a possibly more emotionally abusive setting.
    Giving Social Worker right of entry to homes and access to children would help ensure that children can at least be seen. Lowering caseloads and reinstating admin support for the writing up of case notes and reports would allow Social Workers to be more visible to families to enable better working relationships to be established. The reinstatement of Surestart resources and closer working with schools would enable other agencies to monitor situations and work more closely with Social workers.
    Local Authority Family Support Workers (FSW) should be reinstated and allowed to work with vulnerable children and their families. Many families have been worked with successfully by FSW and Surestart preventing needless removal of children by close monitoring and good working relationships with troubled families.
    Blaming Social Workers for all that is wrong with the Children’s Services system is not justified – they all have managers, who have managers, who have directors who determine what Social Workers can and cannot do. Experienced Social Workers burn out and less experience workers then have to deal with situations they are not familiar with.
    The system will never be perfect and families need support from Mental Health Services and Drug and Alcohol Services. No one Agency can work on its own.
    Joined up thinking is the way forward and responsible management of budgets should also be closely monitored. Less reorganising, fewer individuals in higher management and more Social Workers working with families could also bring dividends.

  22. Alyn Thomas December 10, 2021 at 3:55 pm #

    The situation is more complex, once again we see a knee jerk reaction to a terrible event. Promises by government that this must never happen again, and once again seeking to scape goat others to be able to point a finger that has no knowledge or understanding of the complexities of the matter.

    There is one element quite clear here ‘a child lost their life needlessly’, instead of pointing the finger let us review how much of a resource was available. After years of austerity and reduction of staffing, people are being placed at risk. One element remains ‘a child lost their lives’ let us support the family through this tragic time; enlighten those who do not appreciate the complexities of the situation. Let us support families who are in desperate need, but not with one quick fix, it takes time and energy and resource. There is no one answer here, but whilst the Social Workforce is taken as a second class citizen and thrown piecemeal funds people will remain at risk.

    Shame on any MP who uses the platform to criticize and condemn without first understanding the situation and the subject and holding procrastinating when they have participated in the whole sale reduction of resources

    A child has lost his life, let us not forget the importance of him, if we are to learn lessons, we need to understand supporting people has no cheap answers.

  23. Beth December 10, 2021 at 4:02 pm #

    Okay so get ready for 99% of children to come into care!!
    Enough said!

  24. Smacker December 10, 2021 at 4:15 pm #

    More show pony, grandstanding nonsense from people who should know better, but like on everything else they don’t. Clearly the Minister has no knowledge of how social work and the law works, but of course it’s more popularist guff to play to the crowd and get them to do the work for him with outrage at every turn.

  25. Hilton Dawson December 10, 2021 at 4:54 pm #

    It’s just a response to somebody raising a question on the floor of the House. It doesn’t mean very much, the question & the answer are just what people do when they have to say something & they don’t know very much about the subject.
    The much bigger question is where is the compelling authoritative voice of social work at the moment when it should be heard

    • Annie December 10, 2021 at 8:54 pm #

      I thought BASW had its press release/statement parotted by MPs? I’ve read the tweets. That’s leadership surely.

  26. Red December 12, 2021 at 6:52 am #

    As a current student but with over 10 years experience in childrens services in support roles here’s a different perspective to consider.
    Is social work education (the degree) too focussed on text books and not equipping new staff with the real life skills and practice wisdom needed?
    I’m am still waiting for my lecturers to deliver a session about what to look for on a home visit – practical tips like check doors for holes, feel the child’s mattress is it wet? Check dates on food in fridge check bins for cans of alcohol etc
    Only 6 months left until I qualify and I’m still waiting for these crucial nuggets of wisdom to be passed on… thoughts?

    • Callum December 12, 2021 at 10:26 pm #

      Apparently social work education is thereto equip us to be able to demonstrate critical thinking not how to.actually do.the job.

    • Dawn W December 14, 2021 at 10:54 am #

      I think you have a very valid point. I always felt that Social Workers would benefit from being Family Support Workers for a minimum of 12 months prior to getting to grips with the academic aspects of Social Work.
      I firmly believe practical experience of families is crucial to understanding all the situations we face.

  27. Alienated December 12, 2021 at 11:01 am #

    Yes I also read the boasting about MPs using its briefing to ask questions. Then we moved on it seems. Personally I expect more robust leadership from a “professional association” than the lament about the end of Sure Start and sub-dinner table anguish about austerity. Still apparently the Minister has agreed to meet with BASW to discuss recruitment ‘challenges’ at some future date so its all stations go for “influence”.

  28. Mrs JUNE BRISCOE December 13, 2021 at 12:19 pm #

    I understand the need to safeguard children, but the minister requesting taking children away from their parents because they are having difficulties shows a total ignorance of the service. Remember the Cleveland case?
    Staff need support and guidance from managers and directors about what to do if they suspect this
    Families e.g grandparents should be listened to and follow it up.
    Often case loads are over flowing and there isn’t enough time for the social worker to take a breath to reflect on the situation and decision making . This should be over and above having mentors and supervision sessions so that social workers can debrief and ask questions
    Multi- agency working falls down because systems don’t talk to one another so you have a jigsaw with pieces missing and children fall through the net
    Families often need support before they become a source of harm. e.g. alcohol and drugs services or families who can’t cope.
    Children are often in the middle when there is a toxic relationship.
    There is so much wrong with our system but the services need investment in order to make the changes.Knee jerk reactions don’t fix the problem.

  29. Kieran December 13, 2021 at 2:28 pm #

    The two Chiefs sent out a letter, BASW told us to take care and rest up, there was the contributer on Jeremy Vine, SWE told us their survey shows the public love us. Then there are the tweets and the “we are anguished please blame someone else as well” blogs. All examples of leadership surely.
    Keeping your leader head down until you know the prevailing orthodoxy is the role isn’t it? This is also known as the polite way to behave so no horses are frightened. Defenestrate the ‘liberals’ and the ‘small c’ conservatives from social work if you think leadership matters. Otherwise accept the pretence of the functionaries that nodding until you get a sore neck is the proof that “we” matter.

  30. Maswood Ahmed December 13, 2021 at 7:50 pm #

    A knee-jerk political reaction to one of the most complex of problems, dealing with children and families, would create more problems than solve, in a sector that is starved of vital resources, where preventative work is being done far less now than 20 years ago. Definitely, a strong voice is needed to represent the sector so that there is real awareness of the challenges facing social care. As an Independent Social Worker and consultant what I find makes the most signifiant difference is when the care and concern of the social workers on the ground combine with clear, decisive and resourceful leadership in the organisation. Thats when we can work together to safeguard vulnerable children.

  31. Anne E. December 14, 2021 at 11:19 pm #

    Well said Maswood, you sum it up in a few sentences. So many other professional and well informed comments.
    And Red you are so right.
    I received no input at all during training on how to approach situations of neglect and abuse although i learned about the effect on children. When do you ask to see the bedrooms? What do you do when refusal is the response? Do I need to count the empty lager cans filling the sink? (yes!) Can a child really come by a bruise at that age, in that place, on that day, in the way described? I began to realise as a practitioner and later as a manager that curiosity ( closely followed by detail) was crucial. It was as if training had prepared me to find out ‘why’ something was happening but not how to identify ‘what’ was happening.
    i regret Alec Fraher, your input, while erudite, is not helpful to social workers trying to put together well reasoned and in plain language, factual, detailed and useful assessments (which may be needed in court if concern mounts) establishing working relationships with families, identifying parents who are harmful, those who are untruthful and devious, all the while worrying what might/could happen….. We don’t, can’t or shouldn’t remove the children from most of the families we work with. And we don’t have sufficient resources for those children who are removed.
    Quick learning points from a long career in children’s social work
    A relative may be malicious but the information they share is usually true.
    It is better to have a detailed (curious) conversation(s) with such a referrer rather than just noting what they allege
    It is difficult to complete an assessment of likely harm in one visit
    A specialist medical practitioner should almost always assess bruises/injuries and be fully briefed by the social worker beforehand

  32. Mr Deen December 15, 2021 at 7:36 am #

    So if there has been police call out for concern for someone’s safety perhaps? Suspicion of domestic abuse? Shouting screaming from a home heard by neighbours? Well the Police were called to the PM’s address before they were married. Thays an inkling of future harm.

    • Jule December 15, 2021 at 7:07 pm #

      And we now know that she would have been pregnant with their first child!

  33. Ted Debear December 16, 2021 at 12:10 am #

    Dear Mr Zahawi,

    With every child that is subject of a child protection plan…….guess what ?!…… there an ‘inkilng of harm’ are yiu going to change the law then ?!