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We find out how being trained in Achieving Best Evidence (ABE) has transformed the daily practice of Duty Team Manager, Lauren Blighton in the latest edition of Sanctuary Social Work News magazine.

“I was mind blown by what I learnt on the ABE course”, recalls Lauren who leads a team of duty social workers in Manchester. “It made me totally rethink how I question children, and in fact, anybody. I had been in frontline social work for nine years and have been involved in many Section 47 cases, yet I was completely unaware I was asking children and young people leading questions,” she adds.

At the very beginning of the course, Sanctuary Training’s tutor Robin Watts, explains how the vast majority of professionals working with vulnerable young witnesses, take what he calls ‘the queen of hearts’ approach. They have every intention to achieve best evidence, but have a tendency to use leading questions that can jeopardise a criminal case.

Using an actress who plays the role of the witness, Lauren says “I’ll never forget one of the scenarios I was given where the actress was playing the role of the victim’s older sister. The role-play was incredibly tense as I used ABE techniques to discover that she too had been abused.”

“Attending the course was one of those defining moments in my career as a social worker. It has literally transformed my practice; not just how I approach questioning children and young people in criminal cases, but in day-to-day frontline social work.”

Having completed the course in September 2015, Lauren secured a frontline social worker role at Reading Borough Council, where she was able to use her training to full-effect. “Generally, social workers are not present during the interview of witnesses, but being ABE trained, I was directly involved and able to ask questions to achieve best evidence,” she says.

Although a very small percentage are ABE trained, Lauren believes “every social worker would benefit from learning these techniques”, which is why she plans on passing on her knowledge to her team. She says, “I intend to run a session explaining exactly what they can and cannot ask, how they should approach other professionals involved in a case, and what consent issues they need to be aware of in achieving best evidence,” she concludes."

To book onto Sanctuary Training’s next available ABE course in London (20-24 February 2017), simply book online.

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