SWAN’S LETTER TO THE SWA ORGANISING COMMITTEE 30.10.18

Dear Social Work Awards organising committee,

 

We write to you, as a board, for the second time after SWAN spoke out against the involvement of G4S in the Social Worker of the Year Awards in 2012.

We welcome the news that Capita has withdrawn from the Social Worker of the Year awards 2018 as a sponsor of the ‘Values’ award. We made our objections to Capita clear in our public statement and joined Social Workers Without Borders in publicising the issue, who also took their own principled stand and withdrew from the awards.

We of course support the concept of celebrating the achievements of social workers and promoting social work. We are pleased that those fantastic social workers shortlisted and successful in winning awards will be able to enjoy the awards night, without feeling compromised by the presence of a private outsourcing company who have profited on the backs of some of those most marginalised in our communities, and by undermining public services. It is good to hear there is in ‘ethics review’ taking place to which BASW have been invited to contribute, and in which Social Workers Without Borders have also been invited to participate.

It concerns us, however, that your public statement about Capita’s withdrawal from the award ceremony takes no position on their suitability to sponsor a social work award about social work values, and indeed it implies that the media coverage has been rather distasteful distraction from the awards. Added to the fact that this outcome has not been directly actioned by the Awards Board itself, Capita’s departure has barely been publicised, which allows the organisation to slip quietly out of the backdoor limiting their corporate damage.

We do not believe this is good enough. We hope you appreciate that, as an awards body, you have a leadership role within the profession and this includes a commitment to social work values and ethics.

BASW’s own definition of social work includes this statement:

‘The problems social workers deal with are often rooted in social or emotional disadvantage, discrimination, poverty or trauma. Social workers recognise the bigger picture affecting people’s lives and work for a more equal and just society where human rights are respected and protected. Social workers recognise the bigger picture affecting people’s lives and work for a more equal and just society where human rights are respected and protected.’

This is where we should start with social work.

As a campaigning network of practitioners and service users we would encourage the Social Worker of the Year awards to take the opportunity to start as you mean to go on -by recognising that the awards are incompatible with Capita and all other private sector outsourcing companies, whose ethos focuses not upon public services but upon profit. Such a statement, more than any glamour, would set a confident and proud tone for profession we all believe in.

We look forward to hearing your response to our concerns,

Social Work Action Network 

Update On The Campaign Against Corporate Sponsorship At SWA + CYPN Awards Ceremonies.

SWAN and In Defence of Youth Work are both concerned about the corporate sponsorship of awards ceremonies for Social Work and Youth Work from organisations profiting from austerity or human rights abuses:

https://socialworkfuture.org/2018/10/08/statement-released-condemning-capita-and-ingeus-involvement-in-awards/

Statement Released Condemning Capita and Ingeus …

socialworkfuture.org

SWAN Statement condemning the corporate sponsorship of the 2018 Social Worker of the Year by Capita and Children & Young People Now Awards by Ingeus

 

 

Our campaign against Capita and Ingeus is gathering pace and has already achieved a fantastic victory for social work values – Capita have now pulled out of the SWA ‘Social Work Values’ award!

 

The campaign has widespread support and has engaged social workers in offices up and down the country. Several organisations and individuals have added their names to the SWAN statement including: Disabled People Against Cuts, Recovery in the Bin, Shaping Our Lives, Mental Health Resistance Network, Social Work Without Borders, Suzy Croft (Registered Social Worker & ‘Social Worker of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award’ Winner 2016), & Professor Peter Beresford (University of Essex).

 

Alongside this, one high profile nomination Social Workers Without Borders withdrew in protest and a Judge has pulled out in solidarity. This was eventually covered in Community Care here when the organisers of the awards announced something they are calling an ‘ethics audit’ see:

https://www.communitycare.co.uk/2018/10/15/social-work-awards-ethics-audit-capita-sponsorship-boycott/

 

Last week Capita’s sponsorship and profile were quietly removed from the SWA18 awards website with only the co-sponsor of the ‘values’ award remaining as a single sponsor. Subsequently the Social Worker of the Year Awards made this statement regarding Capita ‘offering to withdraw’:

http://www.socialworkawards.com/news/update-regarding-sponsorship/

Update regarding sponsorship – socialworkawards.com

www.socialworkawards.com

Update regarding sponsorship 10/24/2018 No-one wants a debate about sponsorship to overshadow the work of the Social Worker of the Year Awards.

 

 

This statement is hardly an acknowledgement of Capita’s total unsuitability to sponsor a social work award, let alone one about social work values. We are considering how best to engage with the Social Worker of the Year Awards at present, to ensure they fulfil their leadership role and stand up for social work values. The Social Worker of the Year Awards are on Friday 30th November at Royal Lancaster Hotel, London W2 2TY from 6pm.

 

We have called a friendly picket outside the CYPN awards in protest against Ingeus having anything to do with celebrating social work achievement, and we are calling on all our members and supporters to join us:

 

Children and Young People Now awards Wednesday 21st November at the Hurlingham club SW6 3PR, ASSEMBLE from 6pm (until 7pm)  for the CYPN awards (see: https://www.cypnawards.com/ceremony)

Statement Released Condemning Capita and Ingeus Involvement In Awards

SWAN Statement condemning the corporate sponsorship of the 2018 Social Worker of the Year by Capita and Children & Young People Now Awards by Ingeus

 

SWAN is extremely concerned at the level of corporate sponsorship creeping back into those annual events where we cherish and celebrate those in the workforce who represent best practice and individual achievement.

 

It is with alarm that we learn that the multi-national outsourcing giant CAPITA has been allowed to sponsor the ‘Championing Social Work Values’ category, in the forthcoming 2018 Social Worker of the Year Awards. This is particularly ironic given that CAPITA has a such poor track record of championing the type of ‘values’ we espouse, when it comes to its own actions.

 

CAPITA is the Home Office’s immigration enforcement contractor. It recently sent a SMS text message to a Windrush generation member, Gladstone Wilson aged 62, telling him that he needed to leave the country as ‘soon as possible’. Capita is also contracted by the Department for Work and Pensions to carry out Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments which brutalise and impoverish disabled claimants and those with mental health needs, but under this government “cruelty can be lucrative”. The DWP has been resisting calls to release documents that would highlight just how much they know about Capita’s failings, since 2016.

 

In a joint venture with the Barnet Council, a capital investment manager working for CAPITA defrauded the Council of over £2 million. He was jailed after pleading guilty, but sloppy financial control and poor accountability in the contract allowed the manager to make 62 fraudulent payments – ripping off the people of Barnet. CAPITA has been heavily criticised by Unison for its work with Barnet Council.

 

A damming report published by the National Audit Office investigation earlier this year, concluded that CAPITA’s performance had fallen a ‘long way below’ an acceptable standard. Service failures included its role within the NHS where there is a catalogue of 500,000 patient registration letters backlogged, medical supplies not being delivered, and delays or loss of patients’ medical records all of which had ‘put patients at risk’ it said.

 

Meanwhile, the media publication ‘Children and Young People Now’ has recruited the multi-national company Ingeus to sponsor its ‘Youth Volunteering and Social Action Award’. Here we find yet another company making millions out of the unemployed by providing welfare-to-work schemes. Ingeus does not recognise Trade Unions. In the north-east of England in 2012, Ingeus was referred almost 28,000 jobless people and got only 920 into sustained employment, a success rate of 3.3%. 

 

SWAN seriously questions whether CAPITA and Ingeus should really be given the privileges of being associated with the awards when their own ability to respect dignity, competence, social justice and service is woeful. SWAN believes that CAPITA and Ingeus’ involvement with these awards is incompatible with social work and social care, and nothing short of a cynical device on their part to attract more business and to advance the corporate capture of social work and children’s services. They should be shown the door!

 

Signatories:

Social Work Action Network – swansocialwork@gmail.comhttps://socialworkfuture.org/

Disabled People Against Cuts

Recovery in the Bin

Shaping Our Lives

Mental Health Resistance Network

Social Work Without Borders

Suzy Croft (Registered social worker & ‘Social Worker of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award Winner 2016)

Professor Peter Beresford (University of Essex)

A Tribute to Michael Ridge: A Champion of The Rights of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Communities

 

A tribute to Michael Ridge, Community Social Worker

SWAN was saddened to learn of the recent death of Community Social Worker and champion of the rights of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Communities, Michael Ridge. Thanks To Jenny Daly.  Continue reading “A Tribute to Michael Ridge: A Champion of The Rights of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Communities”

How To Assess Needs Without Focusing Upon Cost: Lawful And Ethical Practice – A Resource

LAWFUL AND ETHICAL PRACTICE IN ASSESSMENT AND SUPPORT PLANNING

Advice for social workers

Many social workers believe the ambitions of the Care Act are being thwarted by its implementation. They feel demoralised, and uneasy about the role they are being required to play in an oppressive system. They are crying out for advice on ethical practice.

Such advice is now available:  Guidance-for-ethical-assessment-practice PDF

It sets out how social workers can take their mandate directly from the Act and social work’s Code of Ethics. They can resist the debilitating pressure to define ‘need’ to suit the budget. Instead they can work honestly with service users to identify the resources they require for the level of well-being right for them. It is then for the budget manager to decide how much the council can afford. Budget managers will thus be transparently accountable for their decisions. Councils will be transparently accountable for any gap between needs and resources. No longer will councils be able to hide behind the ‘social worker’s judgement’.

This will, of course, throw a spanner in the works for councils. Taking the initiative will require clarity of thought and conviction. However, social workers that do may force the systemic changes that can at last give substance to the rhetoric of putting service users first.

The advice has a section on how councils can reciprocate positively. Enlightened councils will want to.

The advice has been prepared by Colin Slasberg, with contributions from SWAN. Colin is a social worker with a career in operational and strategic management and a body of published work. He can be contacted at colin.slasberg@gmail.com.

SWAN Statement Regarding Use of Children As Spies: Call For An Immediate Cessation

SWAN was appalled to learn of the coercion of children in the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) programme concerning terrorism, child sexual exploitation and gangs involved in drug dealing (https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jul/20/child-spies-used-only-when-very-necessary-says-downing-street).

SWAN is fundamentally opposed to the use of children in state espionage. It cannot be countenanced that the State should use children in such an institutionally abusive manner. One child spy is too many, yet we hear the Home Office suggesting that not only is such a scheme in operation but there is increasing scope for its activities with a proposed loosening of the restrictions surrounding it.

Social Work is a human rights based profession prescribed by the State, that another State organisation should be putting vulnerable children in such dangerous situations knowingly and deliberately gives them no moral superiority over the criminal organisations they seek to stop. Children are given a Hobson’s choice of custody or returning to exploitative and abusive situations. 

We call for the immediate end to such operations and for support to be provided to the survivors of this scheme. 

This is a time when ironically, British moral outrage is directed at the US government’s separation of children from their parents’. This recent revelation supports the view that the Home Office have been aiming to create a situation of fear and surveillance via Prevent within the Muslim community and that this policy furthers that oppression, and divides communities.

To oppose the use of child spies please sign this petition https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/225416 

PALUK: Follow PALUK via the Swan website.

The Palestine UK Social Work Network arose following the 2010 IFSW Global conference, which saw the launch of the Global Development Agenda for SW.

In seeking to apply this global professional agenda, we recognise the specific challenges, which have confronted our Palestinian colleagues since 1948, as they have sought to practice under oppression and military occupation. As UK based social work colleagues, we seek to stand in support of our professional Palestinian social work colleagues in their struggle.

We seek to understand the unique realities and challenges of their daily professional practice, and to stand in solidarity with colleagues, in recognition of our shared professional status, activity and occupation.

In so doing, the Palestine UK Social Work Network (PALUK) will endeavour to;

  • To work collaboratively with Palestinian Social Work colleagues to raise and promote awareness of their experience in the UK
  • To develop supportive ongoing relationships with Palestinian Social work colleagues, and bear witness to their experiences
  • To support the collectivist activity of the professional union for Palestinian Social Workers and Psychologists (PUSWP)
  • To promote awareness between UK and European Social work organisations, of the experience of Palestinian Social Work colleagues.
  • To offer solidarity to Palestinian Colleagues, in recognition of both;
  1. Their social work practice issues which are defined by the military occupation
  2. Their personal, family and community daily experiences of living under military occupation
  • To share knowledge and expertise between two social work communities and seek to learn from each other’s practice experiences and initiatives
  • To raise international awareness of the experience of Palestinian social work practitioners within the global Social Work community, and seek to enlist further international support in recognition of their struggle.

SWAN and SWWB stand in solidarity with those protesting Family Separation in the US.

                                      

 

 

SOCIAL WORK ACTION NETWORK AND SOCIAL WORKERS WITHOUT BORDERS CONDEMNS THE ABUSIVE AND BARBARIC TREATMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES SEPARATED WHEN SEEKING ASYLUM, BY THE USA GOVERNMENT.

Social Work Action Network and Social Work Without Borders strongly condemn the barbaric treatment of families seeking asylum in the United States of America – treatment which involves the government inflicting trauma upon children by forcibly removing them from their caregivers and accommodating them in completely inappropriate conditions. The long lasting impact of such experiences are horrific for children and well documented.

Our international profession expects us to identify the needs of those experiencing adversity, to promote the safety and health of all, and crucially to stand shoulder to shoulder with the relatively powerless in having their voices heard and needs met. The international definition of social work demands that we defend social justice. We cannot remain silent as children and families are brutalised by globalised policies that have done so much to promote the social and economic inequality that creates their plight. As social workers, we are appalled by the abusive behaviour carried out by the US government against those seeking safety and a better life, and reject the arguments that suggest migrants are trying to take advantage of welfare opportunities.

We call on the Trump Administration to ensure that the families affected by this inhumane policy are treated in a dignified manner and their rights respected.  The international community should not relent its pressure on the US government to change its immigration policy. 

We stand in Solidarity with the National Association of Social Workers, and call upon the Trump Administration to ensure it acts in every conceivable way to reunite every child with their families as soon as possible.

To the children detained in camps in America, please know that we have not abandoned you. We are shouting loudly for your immediate release and reunification with those who care for you.

To those working with the families and children impacted by this appalling policy, we stand in solidarity with you. Thank you for your empathy and commitment to social justice. We will continue to highlight your fight internationally, as social workers united by a professional commitment to equality and collective responsibility.

Whilst the focus currently is upon the US, we remain vocal critics of UK policies around immigration. We welcome continued scrutiny of the role social workers are expected to play in border control, and support campaigns promoting the rights of migrants.

For further information on how to support those migrants affected in America please see:

http://caraprobono.org/

https://www.raicestexas.org/

The Case Against Extended Frontline: Letter of Objection

SWAN is a co-signature on the following letter – please feel free to circulate and to contact MPs.

 

OPEN LETTER

Nadhim Zahawi MP
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families Department for Education

By email

10th May 2018

Dear Minister

Re: PROPOSED EXPANSION OF THE FAST-TRACK SOCIAL WORK PROGRAMME

The purpose of this letter is to call on the Government to suspend the proposed tender to expand the fast-track children and families social work programme. The signatories are the main professional organisations representing social work, including practitioners and academics.

 

A Prior Information Notice (PIN – 2018/S 064-142495) was issued on the 29th March 2018 and remains on the website: (http://ted.europa.eu/TED/notice/udl?uri=TED:NOTICE:142495-2018:TEXT:EN:HTML). However, the planned information day on the 27th April 2018 was cancelled and we are unaware of the current status of this tender.

 

We request that the tender be suspended in order:

 

  1. To allow the opportunity for a full stakeholder consultation and impact assessment – that includes current providers within the HE sector and social work employers- on the long and short term implications of such a radical shift of scale in the funding and delivery mode of social work education.
  2. To allow time for a transparent and rigorous assessment of the use of £50 million of scarce public funds for this project and how far it represents value for money.
  3. To allow time for proper evaluation of the current fast-track scheme, ‘Frontline’, for which this current tender is, without question, an extension.
  4. To ensure that this evaluation critically examines the impact of this route into social work on the workforce, particularly in light of the challenges that many employers continue to face in recruiting and retaining experienced social workers and leaders.
  5. To ensure the meaningful involvement in the evaluation of a range of stakeholders, including representatives from our organisations and the new Chair of Social Work England.

 

Our primary concerns regarding this tender and the expansion of the Fast-Track programme proposed are as follows:

 

The cost of this tender

 

A recent Department for Education study (Cutmore and Roger, 2016) found that the unit costs to government are significantly lower for the established mainstream routes into social work than for the accelerated routes: Undergraduate (£ 14,675); Postgraduate (£ 23,225); Step Up (£ 40,413) and Frontline (£ 45, 323). The tender suggests that the cost per student would actually rise to £55,000 in the next few years.  This raises important concerns about the continuing disparities between the funding available to programmes that ostensibly have the same aim; that is to educate the future workforce.

 

The lack of longitudinal evaluation

 

The House of Commons Select Committee on Social Work Reform (2016 – 2017) recommended that:

 

The Government commission an extended research study of Frontline alongside university routes to establish comparative long-term outcomes. The Government will then have a stronger evidence base to make decisions on any future changes to the funding and structure of qualification routes.

 

A study has been commissioned but has not concluded. However, the Government is committing large amounts of money to extend a programme that is unproven in resolving the challenge for employers of retaining and developing experienced social workers. This is puzzling given that a critical issue for many local authorities concerns retention.

 

Moreover, Frontline is based on the Teach First model. A study by the National College for Teaching and Leadership found that after two years the retention rate for Teach First was poorer than for other graduate routes (Allen et al., 2016).  This reinforces the need for evaluation before large amounts of scarce public money are allocated further.

 

Impact on social work education and research in universities

 

The fast-track programmes offer students a wage of around £20,000, and the payment of fees. This represents a significantly more favourable level of financial support than that offered to students on any other qualifying route into social work. Beyond the obvious issue of equity, this pattern of provision risks creating deep instability in the mainstream routes to postgraduate qualification that already exist in universities, with important medium and long-term threats for the sector as a whole.

 

In particular, the proposed expansion of a fast track children’s social work training to cohorts of up to 450 students per year will pose a significant challenge to the viability of current postgraduate programmes in Universities across England.   We are concerned that this expansion will reduce applications to – and thereby threaten – courses in some of the most prestigious, research-oriented Universities where such post-graduate provision tends to be clustered.

 

Masters students are of central importance to the sustainability of a research culture for the social work profession, not only within universities but also within practice environments.  Once damaged, the sector’s capacity for research will be very difficult to repair.

 

In written evidence to the Select Committee, the School for Policy Studies at the University of Bristol stated that “retaining social work education within research-intensive universities is essential” and that there was a risk that the expansion of Frontline could cause social work education to disappear from universities, and in turn threaten “internationally-excellent” social work research.  Additionally, Professor Brid Featherstone reported to the Select Committee that:

 

Research is the life blood of any profession and [Frontline’s] future intention to disentangle themselves from an ongoing relationship with the HEI could mean that their methods of work are not rooted in an organic research base.

 

We think it is essential that Government, engage with the implications of an extension of Frontline, which is not university-based, for a profession which is currently built on independent and academically robust social work research and education at Masters and doctorate levels.

 

Equality issues

 

Not only is the renumeration for Frontline (and Step Up) students, as opposed to students on traditional programmes unequal, but it would appear from the research on who has been recruited to study on Frontline programmes to date that structural inequalities are being reproduced. Maxwell et al’s (2017) study comparing the pre-training characteristics of Frontline and mainstream route students concluded that Frontline has recruited a more socially advantaged and less diverse group of entrants and that ‘the impact of this not uncontroversial initiative warrants careful monitoring through longitudinal study if we are to fully understand the nature of this most recent instance of social engineering in England’s social work profession’ (p. 502).

 

In addition, the Frontline model, which requires attendance at a 5 week residential programme over the summer, is potentially restrictive for students with caring responsibilities for children or adults.  We have asked the Department for Education whether an equality impact assessment was undertaken prior to the issuing of this tender notification. The response received was that:

 

The Department for Education understands the importance of, and is committed to, ensuring appropriate considerations are made on how our policy decisions affect different individuals. With this particular procurement, we have considered how we will meet our Public Sector Equality Duty through the advertised service once it is procured, and will continue to pay regard to these duties as the procurement exercise progresses.

 

We consider this an inadequate response to the Public Sector Equality Duty given the evidence already available about Frontline cohorts so far.

 

In the light of the issues raised in this letter, we urge the Government to suspend this proposed tender and would welcome further dialogue with you about constructive ways forward.

 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Association of Professors of Social Work (APSW)

 

British Association of Social Workers (BASW)

 

Joint University Social Work Education Council Social Work Education Committee (JUCSWEC)

 

Social Work Action Network (SWAN)

 

 

 

Copied to:

Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS)

Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS)

Chair of Social Work England

Local Government Association (LGA)

Chief Social Worker for Adults

Chief Social Worker for Children and Families

Shadow Minister (Education) (Children and Families)

 

 

References:

 

Allen, R., Bibby, D.,  Parameshwaran, M., Nye, P., Education Datalab and FFT (2016) Linking ITT and  workforce data: (Initial Teacher Training  Performance Profiles  and School Workforce Census), National College for Teaching and Leadership, Department for Education, Reference DFE- RR507

 

Cutmore, M. and Roger, J.  (2016) Comparing the costs of social work qualification routes, York Consulting, Department for Education, Reference: DFE-RR517

 

Maxwell, N., Scourfield, J., de Villiers, T., Pithouse, A. and Le Zhang, M. (2017) ‘The Pre-Training Characteristics of Frontline Participants and Mainstream Social Work Students’, British Journal of Social Work, 48(2), pp. 487-504

Statement from Social Work Without Borders: Afghan Child’s challenge to the Government

SWWB supports Afghan Child’s challenge to the Government over failure to adhere to DUBS amendment

(ZS and High Court Challenge)

https://www.duncanlewis.co.uk/immigration_news/‘REJECTNO_FAM’_our_fight_for_the_abandoned_children_of_Calais__(20_February_2017).html

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/28/teenage-refugees-high-court-challenge-could-give-hope-to-thousands

The Calais refugee camp ‘The Jungle’ was brutally dismantled by French riot police on the orders of the then President Hollande in October 2016, leaving hundreds of unaccompanied children stranded.  Together with the French Legal Shelter, Social Workers without Borders had already provided voluntary assessments of the serious risk of harm faced by at least a dozen such children  since April 2016 helping some of them reach safety in the UK.

 

During the destruction of the camp we worked frantically to pull together a team of social workers who would go over to the camp and conduct Best Interest Assessments with the solicitors, Duncan Lewis.  We were supported in this callout by many SWAN members – spreading the word about what we were doing through an activist network of social workers, students and academics.

 

The children’s experiences during their journey and their subsequent stay in the Jungle had traumatized them.  They all needed significant professional support to protect them from further serious harm. This included a 14 year old boy, ZS.  Some of them feature in Sue Clayton’s powerful film Calais Children: A Case to Answer.

 

After fierce lobbying led by Lord Dubs, the Government agreed to include an amendment to the Immigration Act 2016 (section 67) to relocate some vulnerable lone-child refugees from Europe who had no close family connection in the UK.  The Government subsequently restricted the number of children given safe passage under the ‘Dubs amendment’ to an arbitrary 320 and imposed cut off date of October 2017. This was successfully challenged in the Courts with the result that the number of children allowed to enter the UK under Dubs has been slightly increased.  SWWB condemned these restrictions and  highlighted our concerns that refugee children were consequently being exposed to an increased risk of trafficking and sexual exploitation due to the negligence of the UK and French Authorities.

 

Since the distribution of children across France, some of whom were placed in empty holiday camps and hospital wings, completely unsuited to meeting the needs of vulnerable children, SWWB continued to review the children we met and our social work Assessments showed that many children, ZS included, were displaying symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.   We subsequently launched a successful Crowd Justice campaign to give us some much needed funding to continue our follow up Assessments.

 

Now, ZS, supported by Duncan Lewis, is challenging the decision to end the Dubs amendment on the basis that the Home Secretary failed in her duties required under the Dubs amendment. ZS currently remains in France.

 

 

 

As Social Work volunteers we worked around the clock, and in distressing conditions, in order to challenge social injustice.  In doing this we took a massive step into the unknown, practising outside of our Local Authorities and familiar domestic legislation.

 

Redefining social work outside of our local authority practice has centred on transcending borders imposed by neo-liberalist ideologies, managerialism and marketisation. In developing an awareness of its parameters and influences and then fostering thinking and action which is directed by social workers themselves, firmly aligned to the principles of social justice, we seek to reclaim social work on our own terms. We can use this experience to transform our social work practice from inside and outside the State.

In celebrating World Social Work day on 20th March, let’s applaud the Social Work Volunteers who chose to shine a light in the darkest of places and support those oppressed by political ideologies and inaction.

 

See More:      https://1drv.ms/v/s!AiwHMgl2FUGOg7pY8w5ClwYw65uXhQ

 

www.socialworkerswithoutborders.org

Japanese social workers “refuse any oppression and human rights infringement”: Statement from our colleagues.

Hirofumi Oikawa, Certified Social Worker 
Representative Director of 
Tokyo TS NET and PandA 

Kazuaki Harada, Certified Social Worker 
Representative of Advocacy & Legal Social Work Laboratory 

Kazuyo Kuroda, Certified Social Worker 
Chairperson of Samaria 

Susumu Miyazawa, Certified Social Worker 
Representative Director of HOTPOT 

Open Letter demanding Japanese Association of Certified Social Workers to stand against “Assignment of Certified Social Workers at Investigating Authorities” which is under the discussion at Legislative Council of the Ministry of Justice in Japan 

As independent certified social workers in Tokyo, Hyogo, and Saitama prefectures, we have been engaged in activities such as consultation and coordination of post-release support for the people who are subject to the criminal justice procedures as a suspect and an accused. While our field of practice is recognized in various terms such as “Criminal Justice,” “Forensic Welfare”, “Legal Social Work” and “Rehabilitation Support” (hereafter referred to the “field”), we all have been active as independent social workers at the forefront of practice of the field in each region. 

We believe that Japanese Association of Certified Social Workers (hereafter referred to “Association”), from the early stage, has been aware that the 3rd Section of Juvenile Act and Criminal Law Committee (juvenile age and treatment of offenders), Legislative Council of the Ministry of Justice in Japan is discussing assignment of certified social workers to the Public Prosecutor’s Office (or investigating authorities). 
In the subcommittee meeting last year, one of the members stated, “We particularly consider young people aged 18 and 19 to be a target of this measure, whose nature differs from those who are currently subject to the “entrance support scheme *”. It is fair to say that these young people tend to see the system from the viewpoint considering what kind of disadvantageous measures are applied if they do not follow the imposed conditions and how severe such measures will be. Some of them may be suited to the treatment of guidance and support based on the current framework of the Urgent Aftercare of Discharged Offenders program. However, I think the current framework of the Urgent Aftercare of Discharged Offenders program is not sufficient as a measure for the juveniles who has a high level of need for protection, such as ones who are under protective measures ordered by the Family Court, in other words the young people who have difficulty with their abilities and living environment. I believe the treatment and measure for those people needs to be a framework imposing rules or regulations on them and supervising them, and if one doesn’t follow such rules or regulations, he/she shall be treated with any disadvantageous consequence” . 
The assignment of certified social workers to the investigating authorities means that the investigating authorities and social workers who are closely associated with such authorities determine the need of protection for the juvenile offenders, in other words that an investigating authority which takes a person in custody also refer him/her to a social worker as a result of a series of investigation. Such process cannot secure the true value of choice and self-determination. A person in suspect-to-accused stage, who cannot help being frightened at the result of a measure and decision made by the investigating authority, will not be free from arbitrariness in self-determination even he/she agrees to access social welfare services upon the interview with a social worker working inside the investigating office, instead, such agreement may be unreasonably brought up due to the situation. 
In the first place, who is supposed to take a task to determine the necessity of protection under social welfare system and who is supposed to be responsible for such determination? 
Moreover, when any decision which is arbitrarily favorable to an investigating authority is made regarding a person in suspect-to-accused stage, following the investigation under custody, an attending social worker’s professional obligation to protect his/her client’s right may conflict with such decision, which is an extremely serious problem. 
This means that social workers who are supposed to provide offenders with necessary support for stable living after his/her release will be used under the name of “measure” and “disposition”. Furthermore, we are greatly concerned about professional ethics of certified social workers. And while social welfare should be autonomy, justice administration is authoritarian and heteronomy. If social work gained authority and became a part of public power exercise, it would have no relation with its fundamental principles. 

1. We demand Association to stand against the movement, which promotes assignment of certified social workers to the investigating authorities 
We, certified social workers, are professionals of social services and we refuse any oppression and human rights infringement, and we are always expected to take full responsibility in our practice. 
We ask Association to express its official opinion, from the perspective of affinity of the function of social workers’ mission to protect human rights, which legal profession (judges, prosecutors and attorneys) certified social workers are expected to cooperate with when engaged practice in the field. 
We need to understand that different roles and functions are assigned to each legal profession; a judge makes decision whether to remand an arrested person in custody and inflict punishment, even death penalty, a prosecutor accuses a person, may prolong a period of detention and seeks for punishment including death penalty. Upon such understanding, we believe that certified social workers may cooperate with judges and prosecutors within very limited area such as helping judges and prosecutors to understand the relevant person or social services. 
Based on compliance with protection of human rights and ethicality, maintenance of specialty and autonomy of professional workers, we hereby stand against the scheme to place certified social workers to the investigating authorities. 
Therefore, we ask Association also to express clear opposition against such scheme. 
The manner how certified social workers engaged with practice in the field needs to be examined carefully in relation to violation of human rights described below because we will never tolerate oppression and infringement of rights. We will demand Association to resist strongly against investigating authorities (Public Prosecutor’s Office) until Association officially determine its response to such scheme. 
When Association decides its opinion and view about the scheme, please make it public along with such ground for argument among the members by referring in the official bulletin and the web site. 

2. We demand Association to make public argument with all the members about “assignment of certified social workers to the investigating authorities” 
While there is Legal and Social Welfare Committee in Association, their discussion regarding this issue is not published. As the largest organization of social welfare professions in Japan, has there been adequate discussion and argument on predicted risks and problems regarding assignment of certified social workers to investigating authorities? 
We are not able to know the process of such discussion, as it has not been open to the members of Association. From the view point of transparency and soundness of an organization, we cannot trust Legal and Social Welfare Committee’s recent handling of this matter, which leads us to point out that Association virtually agree on placing certified social workers in investigating authorities. We request Association to share the relevant information with all the members immediately. 
On the other hand, if any decision has already been made by the director’s board of Association or Legal and Social Welfare Committee regarding such assignment of certified social workers to the investigating authorities, such decision is extremely important, and Association should publish the discussion and the result to all the members in order to fulfill its accountability. 
We also release this letter in public. We hope Association to activate discussion on this issue by introducing this opposing opinion through various mediums and hearing opinions widely from certified social workers all over the country. 

3. We demand Association to express its view to the members, in accordance with Code of Ethics and Conduct of Social Workers, how certified social workers should think and act as an advocate when any violation of rights occurred in the process of investigation, interviews or any other forms of similar activities conducted by the investigating authorities. 
As an independent social worker, each of us acts in a capacity of advocate for human rights when we counsel and support people in suspect-to-accused stage. 
Therefore, it is reasonably expected that we might hear from our client about infringement of rights caused by the investigating authorities. 
There is good possibility that the certified social workers placed in investigating authorities may assist infringement by the investigating authorities in words and action when such placement occurs. 
Please share among the members your view on how a certified social worker is expected to react when social workers working in the investigating authorities have (or seem to have) coerced anyone in suspect-to-accused stage into using any social service or welfare facility. 
As a matter of course, it is expected that rights infringement inside the investigating authorities will take place in literally ultimately closed environment with enormous pressure. Association needs to be aware that it holds primary responsibility to deal with this extremely critical issue. 
Infringement by the investigating authorities in the process of investigation has been widely known through various media reports. We ask directors of Association to consider the issue seriously. 
A report of survey Japanese Federation of Bar Associations conducted in the past regarding infringement by the investigating authorities can be found at the following web site. Please read this report and use it as a reference for the discussion. 
https://www.nichibenren.or.jp/…/commit…/list/data/110217.pdfv