Wilful Neglect.

Consultation to decide on new criminal charges for wilful neglect

Social workers could face up to five years in jail should they prove guilty of wilful neglect towards children, if consultation decides to extend the law to include children’s social care.

It has been announced that social workers caring for children can expect to face five years in prison if they fail to protect children from exploitation.

The consultation will look to extend the law to incorporate those guilty of neglect that work in education, social care and elected council members, the existing Act of 2015 only applies to health care workers working with adults and children and adults working in adult social care but does not include children.

The recent cases of child abuse in Oxfordshire and Rotherham, where it found that social care had failed the victims of abuse, has prompted the consultation.

In the announcement it was said that the plan was to ensure that those responsible for the protection of children must be held accountable if they should fail.

The new plans include a child sexual abuse task force set up to support social workers in an attempt to dispel the culture of denial, in cases, as seen in Rotherham victims we not believed and even blamed.

The changes will also see the introduction of a national whistle blowing helpline for social workers to report any concerns, and the restriction and new policies on pay offs for employees that had failed to protect children.

We would point out that it seems a contradiction that the government have stated that they wish to clamp down on staff pay offs if they have failed to protect children and at the same time announced that staff could face up to five years in jail, which one will it be?.

In addition to the proposed new rules on the duty of care towards children it was announced that child sexual abuse cases will be classed as a national threat which means that police will have a duty to work with other forces (which seems preposterous as this should be the case anyway) plus extra funding for victims to receive the correct help and support to rebuild their lives.

On the face of it, the moves are good, yes we must safeguard our children and those responsible for care should be accountable, but where does the buck stop, should social workers be threatened with jail if they have not been adequately supported? If the investment and resources are not adequate in child protection services, these new measures may have the knock on effect of putting huge strain on the care system.

We are 100% in favour of prosecuting professionals that have attempted to cover up failings in order to protect themselves, but there seems to be a state of confusion as to the detail, which needs some clarification.

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