SOCIAL WORKERS ‘SEX UP ABUSE CLAIMS TO SNATCH CHILDREN FOR ADOPTION’
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The whistleblower said
authorities’ worries of another Baby P had created a climate of fear
Sunday December 11,2011
By Ted Jeory
SOCIAL workers are regularly “sexing up” dossiers on problem parents to
remove children into care and even to farm them out for adoption, a
whistleblower reveals today.
The experienced social worker told a Sunday Express investigation that
council managers are frequently putting pressure on him and colleagues to
rewrite reports considered “too positive”.
They are demanding “more dirt” on mothers and fathers to increase the
chances of securing court orders that place their children into care and
which boost councils’ Ofsted ratings.
The whistleblower said the worry of having another Baby P on an
authority’s hands had created a climate of fear that was destroying
The findings were last night described as a “national scandal” by one
MP who is now demanding a full Parliamentary inquiry into Britain’s child
protection system. We’re being pressured to go against what we think is right for
Lib Dem John Hemming will raise the issue when he appears at the
Education Select Committee on Tuesday.
The committee’s chairman, Graham Stuart, has indicated he would talk to
our whistleblower in confidence.
The whistlebower said the behaviour of social workers has been
dramatically and “needlessly” changed since the full details over the 2007
death of Baby Peter Connelly in Haringey, north London, emerged three
He said there is now a new culture of fear in which the buck of
responsibility is continuously passed up the managerial chain.
He said people in desperate need of help with their parenting skills
are instead having their lives ruined by bureaucrats who fear being blamed
for a highly unlikely case of extreme abuse.
Courts sitting away from the public glare are then increasingly being
asked to make life-changing decisions based on “biased” evidence, he
Latest figures show that social workers, already overstretched due to
Government cuts, are dealing with rapidly rising caseloads with 42,700
children now on child protection plans.
Social workers say this is largely due to political pressure after the
Baby P case.
David Cameron has said there are too many children in care and that the
adoption process needs streamlining, but critics say the real issue is
about why so many youngsters are taken into care in the first place.
The whistleblower, a father who works for a large authority in the
south of England, said: “We’re being pressured to go against what we think
is right for families.
“Personally, I’ve written reports and been told, ‘You are too positive
with this family, we’ll never get it to court unless you make it more
“I’ve actually been told that.
“Although it goes against what you feel is right, you feel under an
“Children need to be in their families and we need to support them as
much as possible and only if there are great risks do you take a child out
of a family.”
When asked for an example, he said: “In order to get a child through to
a child protection conference, we’re told to make the situation look bad
and worse than it actually is.
“We don’t necessarily make things up, but we can change the
“It’s subtle. I had one child aged about eight. I’d prepared a report
with the emphasis saying that the parents were prepared to make changes
and that their attitude was willing.
“But then I was told this was too positive, we’d never get it
“I was told to bring out more of the negative points, so I had to
concentrate on the lack of cleanliness of the house. That put the parents
in a bad light.”
He said these reports were used to take children out of a family home
and in many cases then placed for adoption.
He added: “It destroys families. But the newer, younger social workers
see this as the norm, they just want to toe the line with their bosses and
The whistleblower also raised serious concerns about council-appointed
psychologists who he believes are biased in favour of their
In particular, he said he had doubts over what he said were nebulous
concepts of emotional abuse and “attachment theories”.
He said: “These psychologists create such a high standard of for
parenting that most of us would fail.”
MP John Hemming said: “I congratulate the Sunday Express in unearthing
this national scandal.
“A number of whilstleblowers have come to me to explain how expert
evidence is at times sexed up and at other times plainly wrong in the
“Taking the wrong children into care on the basis of sexed up dossiers
and meaningless psychobabble results in other children being left to die
such as Baby P.
“Parliament must act to sort out the child protection system.”
Nishra Mansuri, of the British Association of Social Workers,
recognised the whistleblower’s comments and said: “It’s a major concern.
The cuts are creating so much pressure for social workers that the right
decisions are not being taken.
“We’re storing up so many problems, but the odds are against
"Social workers 'sex up abuse claims to snatch children
I was appalled to read this headline in the Sunday Express at the weekend: "Social workers 'sex up abuse claims to snatch children for adoption'." Have we gone back in time? Have tabloid newspapers learned nothing?
In 2009, Community Care launched a campaign to promote more balanced, accurate media coverage of social work. This was prompted by news coverage of the Baby P case, including the Sun newspaper's campaign calling for the sacking of the professionals involved in the case. But it sounds like this fell on deaf ears in some tabloid newsrooms.
The Express story rests on the account of one whistleblower, who claims social workers "sex up" dossiers on parents in order to justify putting their children in care. The claims, in relation to that particular local authority, may be entirely accurate - I'm not trying to discredit them - and if that is the case, of course it needs to be investigated.
But the Sunday Express takes the experience of this one social worker and infers that this must, therefore, be happening across the board. A suggestion I think a lot of social workers and councils would dispute.
Granted, you could argue that the article highlights the increasing pressure on social workers. But it also falls back on the 2009 approach to reporting about those working in children's services - describing them as "child snatchers".
Last week, Moira Gibb, chair of the Social Work Reform Board, told me that improving the public image of social work was still a top priority for her and the board. She sees this becoming one of the College of Social Work's main duties when it formally launches in January. The Sunday Express's coverage makes you realise how much still needs to be done.
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