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SASW statement on Troon murder victim Significant Case Review outcome

SASW was extremely saddened to see the findings from the Significant Case Review into the circumstances surrounding the tragedy in South Ayrshire, where a vulnerable woman was murdered in November 2016 by her sister. As social workers we are there to support and protect the most vulnerable in society and a horrific tragedy like this is deeply felt by our profession.

While we do not believe it to be appropriate to comment on the specifics of this case, we note there are lessons to be learned by the Health and Social Care Partnership related to social work involvement. We welcome the comments made by Professor Paul Martin CBE, Independent chairman of the South Ayrshire Adult Protection Committee and his commitment to ensure that the necessary improvements are put in place as quickly and visibly as possible. We hope resource allocation will be prioritised to ensure that trust and confidence in social work in South Ayrshire is restored; for those who need these services and for those who deliver them.

Trisha Hall, National Director of SASW said: “A tragedy of this nature will have impacted on many individual social workers at all levels within this local area and beyond. Professionals who work hard and are tasked with protecting and supporting vulnerable people in society do so in a context of greater need and less resources. We need to recognise and applaud their daily efforts and support workers when horrific incidents like these occur, so that any learning will lead to better ways forward.

It was noticeable that coverage of this tragedy was a small column in many media outlets, which we fear may reflect how people with learning disabilities and/or special needs are regarded. Social work involvement in this area of work should not be limited to rapid assessments and the arrangement of care packages which end up being allocated to mainly third sector or independent providers. Supporting people and assessing need must involve continuous professional assessment of capacity and careful balancing of human rights, so that people are protected and empowered and enabled to make the decisions they can. It requires dedicated social work involvement in community adult care services and increased prioritisation of social work funding as well as good support and reflective supervision for social workers". 

SASW believes that in order to have confidence in our profession, social workers must be visible to people. This means having the opportunity to work within community settings and the time and resources to build relationships with people. This requires political decision makers to invest in the workforce. We know from our members that the funding constraints, overwhelming caseloads and staffing shortages that currently exist across Scotland prevent social workers from doing the job they were trained to do. As the professional association, we will continue to work with politicians and others to try and influence better ways forward. While this will not alter the findings of this review and the tragedy of this case, we hope it may assist in identifying vulnerable adults and their families who need support and protection in the future.