This is an extract from this week’s Spectator. To subscribe, click here.
In 1980, June Lait and I published Can Social Work Survive?, the first critique of British social work aimed at the general public. She was a lecturer in social policy and a former social worker; I was a psychiatrist who had regular and friendly contact with social workers. But we both felt that social work had become vague and grandiose, and we compiled quite a lot of evidence to make our case. We even reported studies showing that well-intended social work interventions could be not just unhelpful but harmful. Our work was published in The Spectator, and it touched a nerve. ‘Of course social workers don’t do harm,’ one critic fumed.
This week we have seen the horrifying report of the multiple failures of social services in Rotherham, which meant that at least 1,400 children have had to suffer terrible sexual abuses at the hands of (predominately Asian) paedophile gangs.