Extension in social work training delayed

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The Independent Online
ONE OF THE KEY recommendations of the Orkney inquiry report, the extension of social workers' training courses from two to three years, has effectively been put in limbo by the Government.

Lord Clyde's report examined the events surrounding the removal of nine children from South Ronaldsay after allegations of a network of child sex abuse.

His criticism of all the agencies involved in the events was followed by 194 recommendations, among them an acknowledgement that social workers lacked the necessary expertise to deal with investigations into child sex abuse. The introduction of a three-year social work qualification was called for.

However, a letter on behalf of Ian Lang, Secretary of State for Scotland, accompanied the reports that were sent to agencies throughout Scotland. As Mr Lang welcomed the report in the House of Commons and indicated his willingness to implement most of the recommendations, the accompanying letter from the Scottish Office's social work services group informed authorities that the additional training period would not happen, due to 'cost implications, which during the current financial climate cannot be accommodated'.

David Colvin, assistant general secretary of the British Association of Social Workers, said: 'This was a major recommendation in Lord Clyde's report and has been the recommendation of many previous inquiries into child abuse. The association deeply regrets the decision.'

The failures by social workers highlighted in the Orkney report, especially in the interviewing of children, have been recognised as a major deficiency.

The Royal Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, whose staff were criticised in the report, said yesterday that the comments had 'caused great concern'.

The society announced that its work in interviewing and investigating suspected victims of sexual abuse would stop, in favour of a greater emphasis on prevention work.