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social workers score in the blame game

27 May 2011

Sharon Shoesmith, the Haringey Children’s Services Director who was sacked in December 2008 after an investigation into the death of baby Peter Connelly found failings in her department, has today in the Court of Appeal won her claim that her sacking was unlawful.

This result will be welcomed by social workers. It highlights the difficult job child protection professionals have. It recognises that in these cases, it is extremely unlikely that one individual can be singled out and blamed, however tempting it may be for politicians in order to placate the media. Making a single individual the scapegoat is both unfair on the individual, and hampers a considered analysis of the issues which do truly arise.

Child protection is multi-agency in nature, usually involving input from schools, health and charitable agencies. The old lazy assumption that any failings must lie at the door of social workers should be consigned to the dustbin of history, and hopefully today’s decision will help to do that.

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