BASW condemns ‘name and shame’ website and urges employers to act
BASW has expressed serious concern after the emergence of a new website aimed at ‘naming and shaming’ social workers who are involved in child protection work – particularly cases involving the removal of children deemed to be at risk. The site, UK Social Workers Exposed, clearly identifies individual social workers and encourages dissatisfied members of the public to post their complaints online.
Although a connected Facebook page has been taken down, following protests by social workers, the website remains active and continues to post inflammatory material about real social workers.
BASW has responded to the issue by issuing advice for social work employers on how they should support any employees named by the website [see below]. Social workers are being asked to share the advice with their employer.
Commenting on the site, BASW professional officer Nushra Mansuri said: “BASW roundly condemns the organisation calling itself UK Social Workers Exposed. Such websites should be removed as they incite hatred and worse against a number of professional groups involved in child protection, including social workers.
“I actually think the same laws applicable to dealing with, for example, far right groups need to be applied. Websites of this kind have no place in a democratic society and expose its proponents as those who do not value the rights of children to be protected by the state when they are being abused.”
The primary responsibility for dealing with these threats to social workers lies with employers. It is often politic to ignore these sites – social work is not the only profession which is subject to this form of abuse – but in this case social workers are very clearly identified and there is incitement to hatred and violence.
BASW’s advice to employers is:
1. This libellous publication of information and opinion on the internet is equivalent to spreading unedited opinion in a newspaper or on television.
2. A responsible employer should regard it as a type of assault, and most (if not all) employers have very clear procedures as to how to deal with members of the public who are abusive to, or who assault, employees to whom they have a duty of care.
3. BASW would hope to see a letter go out from the employer’s legal department stating clearly that this type of abuse will not be tolerated and legal action may follow without warning.
4. Consideration should be given to reporting this to the police.
5. A referral should also be made to the Chief Officer so that it can be taken to whichever organisation they are part of (the Association of Directors of Children’s Services or Adult Services, for instance) with a view to lobbying Parliament to prosecute the website organisers.
6. The employer should also give thought to putting out a local press release to discourage others, and if action was taken and resulted in, for example, punishment for anti-social behaviour, that should be publicised.
7. The employer should also have written procedures for managers around this type of action, alongside social networking and other internet-based procedures.
BASW is urging members with specific personal concerns about this development, or any similar websites, to contact the Association’s Social Workers Union arm, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to comment more widely on this matter, possibly for publication on BASW’s website or in Professional Social Work magazine, please email email@example.com