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social workers might owe a duty of care to hildren not yet born

31 October 2011

A judge has ruled that four siblings receive damages after Buckinghamshire County Council’s Social Workers failed to protect them from very serious sexual abuse by their father. The highest award was £155,487; the lowest £12,000.

What makes this case unusual is the large discrepancy between the lowest damages award, and the highest award.

More significant still is the fact that this judge was prepared to find that, although social workers closed the file on 5 June 1993, a duty of care was owed to a child who had not even been conceived. Hampton, J pointed out that the risk posed by the father to “any child” in the family had been established. I do hope this finding is Appealed. If it is allowed to stand it could be the basis of broadening the category of people to whom social workers owe a duty considerably. There simply aren’t the resources to carry out risk assessments anticipating children who aren’t on the scene.

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