Social Workers Criticised by High Court Judge?

Posted on April 13th, 2010

Lord Justice Wall will be sworn in today as president of the High Court’s Family Division, and The Times heralded his arrival with an interview that criticised and undermined Social Workers across the UK.

The Times’ creative reporting skills showed a quote from Lord Justice Wall with ‘Arrogant Social Workers’ in the headline, somewhat misrepresenting the original sentence. Lord Justice Wall’s statement did indeed criticise the actions of Social Workers, but the comment in question appears to have been taken out of context.

Lord Justice Wall said that Social Workers are ‘Perceived by many as the arrogant and enthusiastic removers of children from their parents into an unsatisfactory care system, and as trampling on the rights of parents and children in the process.’ Taking the sentence as a whole gives a different insight into the personal views of Lord Justice Wall, who it seems, was actually making an observation of public perceptions.

Lord Justice Wall did precede this however with the startling comment, ‘What Social Workers do not appear to understand is that the public perception of their role is not a happy one.’  In our role as Independent Social Workers we come across others in our profession on a regular basis, and have found that Social Workers are acutely aware of the public’s perception of their work.

The comments from Lord Justice Wall, coupled with those by Lord Justice Aikens in recent days, in which Lord Aikens likened Social Workers in Devon to ‘Stalin’s Russia or Mao’s China’ can only be of further detriment to those already demoralised Social Work professionals.  Recent months have seen Social Workers criticised and ridiculed for not acting and removing children from their families, and now criticised for doing the opposite. If Lord Justice Wall is to make a difference in his new role then it might be prudent for him to offer some support to Social Workers, rather than providing ammunition for the media to continue their battering of Social Workers in the UK.

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