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Weds 24 March 2004

Child protection risk must be recognised

UNISON, the union representing Scotland's social care staff, today (Wednesday), will hear a call 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.

John Stevenson, UNISON's City of Edinburgh Branch Secretary, and himself a child protection social worker will say: "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. We need a Scottish-wide review of social care which addresses resources, training, structures, pay and career progression - a review that UNISON has been asking for for nearly three years.

"We also must learn from inquiries, and 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 the resources to plan."

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

The Conference, which will consist of delegates from social work services all over Scotland, will take place tomorrow from 10.30 am in UNISON's Glasgow City Branch Office, 18 Albion Street, Glasgow.

The Main speakers will be John Stevenson, (above) and Bernadette Docherty, from the Association of Directors of Social Work, - vice chair of the ADSW Children and Families Committee - she will deal with the need for proper support for staff at the front line.

ENDS

[Note to Editors: Speakers and social workers will be available for interview before or after the conference. Please contact Chris Bartter (below). Click here for full text of John stevenson's presentation.

For Further Information Please Contact: Stephen Smellie (Chair - Soc Wk Issues Gp) 07740 096 864 (m) John Stevenson (Edinburgh City Branch Sec) 07876 795 018 (m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

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