Man sentenced to hospital order for attempted murder of social worker

Social worker, who was 61 at the time, has been left with ongoing pain as well as psychological impact of attack by Sulai Bukhari, while practitioner was carrying out welfare check on children

Metropolitan Police flashing blue lights image
Photo: Metropolitan Police Service

A man has been sentenced to a hospital order under the Mental Health Act 1983 for the attempted murder of a social worker and attacking two police officers.

Sulai Bukhari, 35, stabbed the Haringey council social worker, then 61, eight times, while the practitioner was conducting a welfare check on children at a house in Wood Green, north London, in August 2021.

The officers had forced entry to the house to help the social worker carry out the welfare check after they were refused access.

Bukhari, who was hiding around the corner from the property, then stabbed the social worker with two Swiss Army knives, leaving him with wounds to his chest, abdomen, shoulder and arms.

He also attacked the two officers after they came to help the social worker, whom the Metropolitan Police said had been left with ongoing pain and significant psychological effects from the attack.

Social worker suffering ‘ongoing pain and psychological effects’

“It is only thanks to sheer luck that the main victim of this incident was not more seriously injured,” said Detective Constable Elliott Hughes, from the North Area Command. “The long lasting impact on him has been substantial and he now suffers from ongoing pain due to the injuries as well as the significant psychological effect of such an incident.

“We are reminded with this case of the constant danger some public sector workers face simply by doing their job. On a daily basis they put themselves in harm’s way to protect the public.”

Following the attack, Haringey council conducted a review of risk assessment procedures and its lone working policy, while also bringing in a psychotherapist to support staff and giving them access to the Thinking Space programme to support mental wellbeing, run by Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.

Bukhari was convicted of one count of attempted murder and two of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent.

A judge at the Old Bailey yesterday sentenced him to a hospital order under section 37 of the MHA, which applies when a person who has been convicted of an imprisonable offence – besides murder – is found to have a mental disorder of a nature or degree that warrants hospital treatment and the court deems this the most appropriate punishment.

He was also placed under a restriction order, under section 41 of the MHA, limiting the circumstances in which he would be released from the hospital order, on the grounds of the risk he posed to the public.

8 Responses to Man sentenced to hospital order for attempted murder of social worker

  1. kat March 22, 2023 at 5:34 pm #

    The legislation covering assaults on “emergency workers” includes nurses, firefighters and non-emergency frontline NHS staff, as well as personnel providing prisoner escort services. Social workers were excluded in England & Wales. The law in Scotland extends protections to social workers enforcing child protection orders / mental health assessments.

    Where are SWE and the Chief SW?? Probably thinking up more hoops for social workers to jump through rather than anything that could help social workers feel valued and visible.

  2. Grace March 22, 2023 at 7:38 pm #

    Im actually suprised this doesnt happen more often. How often do social workers go into houses on their own to have extremley difficult conversations with people who have history of violence armed only with a pen and paper that the police wouldnt dream of going in solo. Ive worked in teams in CP and assessment its just normalised and expected to manage this. I no longer work in childrens services and in the adults team I am in need feel much safer and more supported

  3. Maggie Clifford. March 22, 2023 at 8:13 pm #

    SWs are not paid enough.

  4. Mark March 22, 2023 at 10:01 pm #

    Absolutely. SWE and any other cherry picked Chief are only there to serve the Government who have no understanding of Social Work other than a useful object to blame and humiliate. Those who can do. Those who can’t become Chiefs and Regulators. At last Ofsted is facing the fire. SWE next one hopes.

  5. Christian Kerr March 23, 2023 at 9:05 am #

    The fact that two police officers – who are ‘protected’ under the Assaults on Emergency Workers Act – were also injured in the attack, alongside growing evidence that harsher punishments for attacks on emergency workers do nothing to prevent such attacks, puts lie to the notion that including social workers in that legislation will make them safer. It will not. What will is better living conditions and an end to hostile policies aimed that make the lives of people social workers support increasingly unbearable, alongside better working conditions, including better support and protection from employers. Both require concerted action from government. That this is not forthcoming should not be taken as justification further punish people in already distressed and vulnerable situations.

    The issue is bound up with sensitivity and concern about how government and, as is perceived, society do not value social work enough. If the true aim of advocating enhanced sentences for people who assault social workers is to raise the value and visibility of the profession – for surely no-one could reasonably argue it would make social workers safer, indeed it could have the opposite effect (see below) – then there will be a high price to pay in the disproportionate impact it will have on people who are distressed, disempowered and in already vulnerable situations.

    This is why I and others canpaigned against the inclusion of social workers in the Assaults on Emergency Workers Act, and I will continue to advocate that position. For more detailed argument see:

  6. Hazel brown Strachan March 23, 2023 at 9:46 am #

    By the lack of responses , confirms that we are our own worst enemy.To use the current in vogue social work term , we’ ve normalised the apparent risks of lone working.The main reason we are not attacked more often is I believe that the vast majority fear losing their children, so comply (assumptions and veiled compliance come to mind).when was the last time you saw a lone Police officer. Absolutely sickening

    • dk March 23, 2023 at 2:02 pm #

      The main reason social workers are not attacked more often is that the overwhelming majority of people they come into contact with have no desire to hurt them. I think the argument for better protections, of many different forms and natures, for social workers can be made without pathologizing often vulnerable parents.

  7. Social Worker March 24, 2023 at 2:50 pm #

    It’s really difficult to reconcile a position we take as a profession, that we understand structural oppression, discrimination, stigma and alienation, if at the same time the profession clamours for added protection from the people we purport to have empathy and understanding with. That isn’t to justify attacks on a social workers under any circumstances. However of all the professions involved in supporting people, we are highly educated to understand fear, frustration and the mental distress experienced by people in acutely emotional and stressful situations that may impact on their liberty and the welfare of those around them. The rise in assaults, verbal aggression and all forms of violence is increasing across the country as people continue to experience pernicious attacks on social welfare and services aimed at supporting and protecting them. The blame is at a political level.