Social work on trial

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:
Social work on trial

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This chapter examines how the practice of social work was judged during the Colwell Inquiry and focuses particularly on the tensions that existed between competing understandings of its nature and purpose. First, it establishes the local context for the reorganisation of services that had followed from the implementation of the Local Authority Social Services Act of 1970. The two social workers most directly concerned with Maria Colwell's care were Daphne Josephine Kirby of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and Diana Lees of East Sussex Social Services Department. The charges laid against the social workers involved in the Colwell case fall into four broad categories: simple incompetence in carrying out their duties properly; the flawed nature of some of their fundamental assumptions about children and families; failures in the exercise of professional judgement; and a lack of awareness of the proper boundaries of social work. Taken together, these charges also constituted a powerful critique of social work itself.

Keywords: Maria Colwell; social work; Colwell Inquiry; Local Authority Social Services Act; social workers; Daphne Josephine Kirby; Diana Lees; East Sussex Social Services Department; incompetence; professional judgement

Chapter.  12506 words. 

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