Thursday, 20 May 2004

Child protection risk must be recognised

UNISON Scotland has called for the Scottish Executive to set up a standing system for inquiries into child protection crises as part of a plan to address the problems of social work across Scotland.

The call was made by Edinburgh's John Stevenson at a UNISON Social Work Conference and in evidence to the Scottish Parliament Education Committee.

"The shortcomings of the O'Brien Inquiry shows how much we need a proper, standing system which sets up a consistent standard, covering social work, health and police issues, understanding the law and prepared to look at resources. We need our politicians and media to understand what working with risk means and give us the resources to plan", said John.

Stephen Smellie, Chair of UNISON's Social Work Issues Group said: "In addition to the problems of recruitment and retention, the conference also discussed problems of violence to staff, and the need to radically develop training."

Turning to the Edinburgh reorganisation, John Stevenson added, "No service can operate with 40-50% shortfalls in staffing, which is not unusual in child protection across Scotland. To talk about systems and procedures in that context has a feel of fiddle and burning to it."

Bernadette Docherty, from the Association of Directors of Social Work, - vice chair of the ADSW Children and Families Committee also spoke at the conference, underlining a strong common base in what the union and ADSW both see needs to change.

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