Saturday, 11 January 2014

Fabricated Reports

Researching Reform has written a piece about social workers who fabricate their reports:
The excellent Community Care reports today that a social worker has been struck off for faking a conversation with a vulnerable child, to complete her report. The social worker claims, in a statement for the hearing which resulted in her being struck off that she was unwell at the time, hugely overworked and under pressure to be "disingenuous".
Many of us working on family law cases see fabrication of this kind on a daily basis. Fabrication in social work reports, though, is not as straightforward as it seems. This case is a clear cut example of obvious misconduct, but some misconduct is less easy to spot.
Sometimes, things get lost in translation and no matter how much a parent or child tries to clarify a misunderstanding, most of the time, the initial errors are left in the report. A combination of time, resources and pride play a large part in these errors being undone, but they can create potentially lasting and terribly damaging results.
There is another problem, which is not mentioned by Researching Reform, and that is that social workers are expected to be able to write reports about what might happen in the future. Obviously there can be no evidence for that and a report can be slanted in whatever direction is favourable to the manager`s targets. It is impossible for parents to provide evidence against this type of subjective opinion.

The court decides on the balance of probabilities, that is, that it is more likely to happen than not; and seldom takes the risk of going against the judgement of a social worker.

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