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Dispatches - undercover Social Worker

The link is to a web page on Channel 4's website about their "undercover Social Worker" programme.

This is now available on 4 on demand.

Surrey is not one of the worse childrens services units. Nothing in the programme is particularly surprising to anyone who knows much about how the system works.

In part it is also a reflection of the nature of society.

One lesson that needs to be learnt is that there is nothing to be gained by becoming harsher and harsher with individual practitioners.

This creates an environment in which people both
a) Don't want to do the job
b) Act defensively to protect themselves rather than make good judgments.

Questions have also got to be asked about how the system responds to deal with situations such as domestic violence. Rather than acting to protect the victim the system acts instead to remove the children. The psychological evidence is that removing children causes themselves psychological harm. Hence this really should not be the first option looked at.


Jerry said…
Below are a snap shot of responses to the programme from social workers themselves, some comments leave nothing to the imagination.

The programme was just a snapshot its self, there's only so much can be disclosed within an hour of broadcasting.

It was not one of the worse, maybe Doncaster would have been a better case subject.

The programme did highlight some points I know John has been campaigning about and thats the tick box scenario, but more so to me the programme highlighted the unqualified making extreme decisions about peoples lives

Having been personally involved in this situation an unqualified person carrying out tasks without any knowledge is a dangerous situation indeed.


I enjoyed this programme just like life as an agency worker.When I started in social work in 1979 complete with long hair sandals and a beard we thought we could change the world .Today its just forms and more forms,wanna be senior managers whose only interest is performance indicators and a lack of facilities.

If it wasnt for my therapists Jack Daniels and Jim Bean I would have given up long ago.


this programme must have set back Social Work recruitment campaigns by years!

Sadly it probably has, and along with all the ones we lose because we treat them so badly (see above), that's why we have to keep importing social workers. At least the imports arrive ignorant of what their getting into, and often on agency rates that would allow several home grown social workers in their place, along with level of support they need to work properly. The programme unfortunately shows caring takes a back seat to case management/manipulation

My advice for all you wannabe Social Workers is avoid Children in Need teams stick to either looked after children teams or go into fostering and adoption where its akin to paradise. Alternatively join CAFCASS as a Guardian where you can pontificate about what should be done without doing it !

My dream job was as a fostering manager-very unstressed but the careers were worse than the children in terms of neediness


I will say this though, most of the responses I have seen and heard are nothing to do with the programme its self but that of the undercover reporter, as he was a Family support worker, many in the field are saying the reporter broke the laws himself by going to the homes of children without having a CRB check done first.

If thats their only concerns then heaven help us.

This is just an overview but this link will show further comments by Sw, some I feel hit the nail on the head.
lisa h said…
soial services tried to remove my kids on a vendeter they put endless lies in there paper work and put my kids on the child protecetion register then went on to do a public law out line to snatch my kids no evidence of any abuse so they labeled it as emotional as i would not be able to prove this one way or another my sons behaviour is very difficult he kicks pushes and spits this is what they have used saying it is parental we moved house within 48hours of the meeting and the new core group agree with our family that my son needs help and has a pplied for a statement of special needs. It has also been said by the new group that it is definitely not parental or 'learned behaviour'.

Ww wish to shout our story from the rooftops but wish to get in touch with the media somehow.
John Hemming said…
Email me at
Zen said…
Good laws make for a happy people, willingly governed.

Bad laws make for an unhappy people resisting in a multitude of ways, and exponentially increasing that resistance in direct relation to the poor quality of their government.

Everything that government does is said in "government speak", and so bears minimal relation to the reality outside of an office.

With no community ( common unity ) between governors and governed, the gap becomes ever wider.

The system adopts a "brick wall" attitude to everything.

The people are enraged, but are deliberately denied by the system any meaningful outlet for that rage, or resolution of problems.

Everything that concerns us are effects, and chasing effects is ultimately futile, as the system is as resistant in it's own way as the people ( for the one mirrors the other ).

To radically change this society for the better, it is neccessary to address cause, not effects, so as to reverse the exponentially-dynamic downward spiral generated by the grossly over-inflated system, and it's effects.

If one thinks of the computer program called "GB.LTD", it is quite the most appalling program ever to appear in a programmer's nightmare - it simply does not work, and has miles of redundant or substandard code. No wonder GB.LTD grinds slowly, and high cost both socially and financially.

Address Cause, and effects will rapidly decrease.

Address one effect, and tomorrow two new effects will emerge.

As someone totally trashed by serious criminal offences comitted by a local authority ( covered up by police ), and whose councillor had his house bulldozed to keep him quiet, I know firsthand what government really is.

I am ruined and excluded, but that does not stop me thinking - although my thoughts - not being in government-speak - will never be listened to.

So the insanity will continue.

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