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@maggiemellon @craig_carol @section8scot @suzannezeedyk @DearWild @KateJohnston3 @mannajon @Nick234678 @JohnCarnochan I agree with you @maggiemellon about the competence issue and that social workers are the professionals to do this work. Many people think, some fairly, some unfairly, that standards in social work are not as rigorously upheld as they ought to be. 1/19
@maggiemellon @craig_carol @section8scot @suzannezeedyk @DearWild @KateJohnston3 @mannajon @Nick234678 @JohnCarnochan The answer then must surely be to address that problem, since all manner of vulnerable people need & deserve the highest standards we can attain. 2/19
@maggiemellon @craig_carol @section8scot @suzannezeedyk @DearWild @KateJohnston3 @mannajon @Nick234678 @JohnCarnochan As I'm sure you know, these reports were mostly provided to the Scottish courts by local authority social work departments (indeed a very small number still are). But in the 1980s, when the demand for these reports began to rise sharply, we did not provide them with any ... 3/19
@maggiemellon @craig_carol @section8scot @suzannezeedyk @DearWild @KateJohnston3 @mannajon @Nick234678 @JohnCarnochan ... additional funding to do this work. Somehow lawyers were able to fill that gap and they secured funding for themselves to do the reports. Since then, we've been paying up to £4.6M per year on these reports alone. 4/19
@maggiemellon @craig_carol @section8scot @suzannezeedyk @DearWild @KateJohnston3 @mannajon @Nick234678 @JohnCarnochan I may be wrong, but it seems to me that's money that would have gone some way to address the problems you identify. It may also have resulted in a social work profession that had built up specific skills & experience (to the extent that's required) in private family law. 5/19
@maggiemellon @craig_carol @section8scot @suzannezeedyk @DearWild @KateJohnston3 @mannajon @Nick234678 @JohnCarnochan Sheriffs and Judges too may have been better informed overall, and in specific cases, had they been advised by professional social workers - rather than private practice solicitors with no training or qualifications in this field. 6/19
@maggiemellon @craig_carol @section8scot @suzannezeedyk @DearWild @KateJohnston3 @mannajon @Nick234678 @JohnCarnochan Now, the annual budget, just for Child Welfare Reporters, is set to rise to between £7.6M and £11.6M. See for details of how @ashtenRD & @scotgov intend even to pay for the (admittedly only 4 days) training for the lawyers to 'qualify'. 7/19
@maggiemellon @craig_carol @section8scot @suzannezeedyk @DearWild @KateJohnston3 @mannajon @Nick234678 @JohnCarnochan @ashtenRD @scotgov But they will qualify under a much lesser 'regime' that's going to legitimise incompetent practice; the very thing I know you are so concerned about. I just don't see how anyone benefits from continuing to have this role dominated and controlled by the legal profession. 8/19
@maggiemellon @craig_carol @section8scot @suzannezeedyk @DearWild @KateJohnston3 @mannajon @Nick234678 @JohnCarnochan @ashtenRD @scotgov One argument often advanced against this amendment, perhaps most frequently by @ashtenRD , is that diversity is needed. But it's an argument that barely stands up to basic scrutiny. First of all, only one Reporter is appointed at any given time ... 9/19
@maggiemellon @craig_carol @section8scot @suzannezeedyk @DearWild @KateJohnston3 @mannajon @Nick234678 @JohnCarnochan @ashtenRD @scotgov ... and this proposal in no way prevents other specialists being appointed - as is the case now - as and when required. I would go further and suggest that with social workers as Reporters it's much more likely that they will call in other specialist help ... 10/19
@maggiemellon @craig_carol @section8scot @suzannezeedyk @DearWild @KateJohnston3 @mannajon @Nick234678 @JohnCarnochan @ashtenRD @scotgov ... or the authorities who deal with risk of harm and that they'll do so at a far earlier stage than happens now. Secondly, it's diversity of professional opinion in the courtroom that really counts. 11/19
@maggiemellon @craig_carol @section8scot @suzannezeedyk @DearWild @KateJohnston3 @mannajon @Nick234678 @JohnCarnochan @ashtenRD @scotgov Allowing lawyers to do this perpetuates the groupthink that plagues these cases. What's needed is another perspective in every case where a Reporter is appointed. That, in itself, would be a giant leap forward. 12/19
@maggiemellon @craig_carol @section8scot @suzannezeedyk @DearWild @KateJohnston3 @mannajon @Nick234678 @JohnCarnochan @ashtenRD @scotgov Perhaps the biggest problem at present is the view amongst the legal profession (and more understandably MSPs) that all this is easy. That establishing what a child thinks, or is experiencing, is simply a matter of appointing someone who is obviously "child friendly". 13/19
@maggiemellon @craig_carol @section8scot @suzannezeedyk @DearWild @KateJohnston3 @mannajon @Nick234678 @JohnCarnochan @ashtenRD @scotgov ... that the issues to be decided are not much more complex that the quantum of time children spend with each parent. But that's simply not true, is it? The real risk here is that solicitors simply can't see what they've never been trained to look for ... 14/19
@maggiemellon @craig_carol @section8scot @suzannezeedyk @DearWild @KateJohnston3 @mannajon @Nick234678 @JohnCarnochan @ashtenRD @scotgov ... and are therefore never likely to identify the warning signs of. It's no good calling in the cavalry after years of not understanding what's really been going on in the life of a child, as mostly happens now. 15/19
@maggiemellon @craig_carol @section8scot @suzannezeedyk @DearWild @KateJohnston3 @mannajon @Nick234678 @JohnCarnochan @ashtenRD @scotgov It seems to me that having social workers appointed in all cases where a reporter is called for would offer both an early warning system and a skilled, experienced pair of hands to deal immediately with any problems identified. 16/19
@maggiemellon @craig_carol @section8scot @suzannezeedyk @DearWild @KateJohnston3 @mannajon @Nick234678 @JohnCarnochan @ashtenRD @scotgov So can we really afford to accept the status quo, or some watered down version of it? Don't we need to ensure that up to £11.6M of public funds is directed to the social work rather than the legal profession? 17/19
@maggiemellon @craig_carol @section8scot @suzannezeedyk @DearWild @KateJohnston3 @mannajon @Nick234678 @JohnCarnochan @ashtenRD @scotgov Like you, I'd love to see are all manner of improvements, both in family law and in the way we fail to appreciate and properly value the social work profession. But for my part at least, I chose this particular hill to die on because it seems to represent the biggest ... 18/19
@maggiemellon @craig_carol @section8scot @suzannezeedyk @DearWild @KateJohnston3 @mannajon @Nick234678 @JohnCarnochan @ashtenRD @scotgov ... single leap forward that can be achieved at this moment in time. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Please come along and help make a stronger case for change. #section… 19/19 /END
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