The Conservative government has recently demonstrated its commitment to legislation that criminalises social workers "who lack, “the professional curiosity to explore the underlying reasons for challenging behaviour, or who knew abuse was being ignored and did not speak out.”" (CommunityCare.co.uk 17.6.2015). Such plans are an unprecedented attack upon the public sector, and those workers striving to safe lives in the face of massive cuts and huge workloads. Swan has produced a letter that you can use as a guide for writing to your MP, requesting an inquiry into and a block of this legislative bill.
House of Commons
Dear [name MP],
My name is [your name], I am a member of your electorate and a [social work service user/social worker/SWAN member/social work academic etc.].
I am extremely concerned by the extension of the new Criminal Offence of Ill-Treatment or Wilful Neglect bill, developed within the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015. The proposal to prosecute social workers produced an 11,000 strong protest petition in March of this year. This was supported by a significant negative online reaction from social workers, service users and members of the public.
The plan reiterated and extended in the Queen’s Speech of May this year, to push ahead with jail sentences is an unprecedented attack upon our nation’s social workers. It fundamentally ignores the fact that more children than ever are being placed upon the At Risk register, with social workers’ consistently expressing extreme concern that an endemic lack of resources prevents them from responding to these children as needed. Social workers who routinely carry caseloads of 20-30 and who have seen resource options available to service users decimated are not wilfully neglecting their clients. They are prevented by the state from responding appropriately to the neediest, despite their duty in the law. There would seem to a lack of alignment between resource management and the increasing pressures on frontline services to deliver. With few resources, the attempt to balance effective early intervention which meets need, and the increased pressure to manage risk is creating greater vulnerability; not the social workers attempting to respond.
I am requesting that you:
Condemn the scapegoating of frontline workers in a parliamentary speech.
Raise these concerns with Norman Lamb, and Chief Social Workers Isabelle Trowler and Lyn Romeo.
Request a complete review of this bill.
I look forward to haring your response.