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With the current 'blame culture' surrounding child protection cases, it is paramount that we support our social work practitioners in their caseloads with effective training, mentoring and supervision.  

Services are stretched across the country, with average caseloads increasing in size and complexity – particularly in central London boroughs. However, with the recent controversial government announcement, stating that if a social worker fails in their practice to highlight and deal with any safeguarding concerns they may face a jail sentence of up to five years, it does concern me that social workers may be discouraged from continuing with their profession at a time when we need them most. 

The burden on social workers to deliver timely and good quality assessments is ever more apparent and we must support them in their efforts with ongoing regular training and development. Whether they are a temporary or permanent worker, full or part-time, they must be equipped with the correct tool-kits, methodology and mindset to effectively work and engage with vulnerable children and their families, drawing on the recommendations from the Munro Review in 2011.  

In my training workshop sessions, we are always developing programmes based on frontline topical child protection matters. This year, with the rapid increase of child sexual exploitation (CSE) cases and a number of local authorities highlighting categorical problems, our courses on CSE, Achieving Best Evidence (ABE) and Frontline Child Protection Assessment Skills have been particularly popular in the uptake. It is vital that the social worker is equipped with added knowledge on how to obtain the right evidence for the assessment and how to engage with the family from the outset, increasing a more positive working relationship under the Working Together to Safeguarding Children (March 2013).

About the author

Robin Watts is a retired police officer, who previously spent 30 years working as a Detective with the Metropolitan Police. During his police career, he spent a decade specialising in child protection investigations and established a dedicated training unit, which enabled him to educate fellow police officers and social workers on how to investigate child abuse, from the initial referral through to its conclusion. Robin uses his knowledge and expertise to deliver bespoke training courses through Sanctuary Training. 
For Sanctuary Training’s full range of upcoming courses or to book your place on a course, visit


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