November and December 1972 …

Ian Butler and Mark Drakeford

in Social work on trial

Published by Policy Press

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9781847428684
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303565 | DOI:
November and December 1972 …

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Maria Colwell's death had to be accounted for and not just by the police and the prosecuting authorities. On the Whitehawk Estate there was anger; at first directed towards Maria's mother Pauline Kepple who, on release from police custody, returned to their home at 119 Maresfield Road in Brighton. This anger had not abated by the time of the verdict at the trial of Maria's stepfather William Kepple, and Pauline had to move out of the family home. Maria had been known to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and to East Sussex County Council's Social Services Department almost all her life. The express purpose of the public inquiry that, by twists and turns, followed her death in the summer of 1973, was ‘to inquire into and report upon the care and supervision provided by local authorities and other agencies in relation to Maria Colwell and the co-ordination between them’. As well as the actions of particular social workers, social work itself as a form of welfare practice became accountable for Maria Colwell's death.

Keywords: Maria Colwell; public inquiry; Pauline Kepple; William Kepple; Brighton; social work

Chapter.  17611 words. 

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