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BASW England's Criminal Justice Group welcomes new Chair and Vice-Chair

Dr Rukhsana Farooqi and Dr Helen Woods join the BASW England Criminal Justice Group

BASW England's Criminal Justice Group is delighted to welcome Dr Rukhsana Farooqi as Chair and Dr Helen Woods as Vice-Chair.

The group, which provides an expert focus for social workers who have an interest in criminal and youth justice, appointed both Rukhsana and Helen in September 2020 for an initial one-year period.

Profile: Dr Rukhsana Farooqi, Chair

LLB, MA, CQSW, MSC, Advanced Award in Social Work, Diploma in Humanistic Counselling, Independent Social Work Consultant, Member of the England Committee

"I set up an Asian Women’s Refuge in East London prior to training in social work in 1990-1992 at the University of Nottingham, when Professor Olive Stevenson was the Head of Social Work.

"I have worked in children and families teams in Leicester, Warwickshire and Wandsworth. I have undertaken hospital social work at the George Elliott and St Georges Hospital. I was a Guardian ad Litem for the Leicester, Nottingham, Inner and North London and Birmingham, from 1996 to the start of Cafcass. I also worked as a Family Court Welfare Officer for Middlesex Probation. I was one of the few practitioners working in Public and Private law proceeding prior to Cafcass. I was an interim Service Manager briefly when Cafcass was created.

"I have been a practice tutor, and lecturer at Middlesex, Keele, Brunel and a Practice Teacher at Havering College, Royal Holloway and Brunel Universities. I am currently a sessional Practice Educator for Brunel University.

"I trained as an Advocate for NYAS in 1996 and I used to visit young people in secure and inpatient units. I worked for NYAS on a sessional basis as a caseworker from 1996 to 2015. I have also worked in Child and Adolescent Mental Health tier 3 and 4 as a Senior Practitioner and Social Work Practice Manager. I have completed an MSC in mental health social work at the Institute of Psychiatry/Kings College and Professional Doctorate at the Tavistock Clinic/University of East London.

"Currently I am an independent social work Consultant.  I am also training as a group analyst at the Institute of Group Analysis.

"My areas of expertise are honour based and forced marriage cases including international assessments in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Nepal and other countries. I also undertake assessments in Public and Private Law Proceedings and immigration cases.

"I have an interest in mental health and criminal justice. Many of the adults and young people I assess have committed offences and been detained. I assess regularly in immigration cases where parents have offended and are at risk of deportation. I assess the impact on the children as well as the adults. There are some cases where adults and their families are being forced to return to countries where they have no connection and they fled due to abuse and trauma.

"I work with some of the most proactive solicitors in the UK who are committed to human rights and fighting for justice and empowerment."

Profile: Dr Helen Woods, Vice-Chair

"My social work career began in the Probation Service in 2000, followed by many years spent working in Youth Offending Teams and other areas of social work with children, young people and families. I also teach youth justice issues in my capacity as Lecturer in Social Work and Social Care at the University of Birmingham. 

"I have always been passionate about prioritising the welfare and education needs of young people involved in the Youth Justice System.  Since myself and Rukhsana’s appointments, we have met with the Youth Justice Board and been impressed by their desire to promote a ‘Child First’ agenda within the Youth Justice System, and to a hear their concern regarding the over-representation of certain groups of young people, such as Black and Minority ethnic groups, and children in care. We fully share this concern, along with other salient issues such as the increased cell time of those in custody during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is clear more action is needed in this regard. 

"Additionally, we are currently in conversation with the Youth Custody Service, particularly regarding the roll out of Secure Schools.  Members of the BASW Criminal Justice Group will continue to raise concerns regarding the development and commissioning of Secure Schools and the wider secure estate, the education and welfare needs of young people, and the conditions facing all young people in secure and residential accommodation. 

"We are also in communication with the Probation Alliance regarding the new National Probation Service. We are keen to expand our membership and to develop the role of the Criminal Justice Group in promoting the interests of service users and staff in the Criminal Justice System."

About BASW’s England's Criminal Justice Group:

BASW’s Criminal Justice Group provides an expert focus for social workers who have an interest in criminal/youth justice. There are various opportunities for continuous professional development for members and to expand the knowledge base in this domain.

The group often coordinates replies to government criminal justice consultations and on occasion members have attended All Party Parliamentary Groups and commissions and inquiries. It offers advice and guidance to members on new developments such as the establishment of Secure Colleges.

BASW’s Criminal Justice Group also works in partnership with other organisations such as the Howard League, The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, Article 39, The National Association for Youth Justice and others, in a campaign calling for the government to raise the age of criminal responsibility. The group liaises with the other BASW England subgroups - such as Children and Families, Mental Health and Adults - where there are overlapping areas of interest.

Find out more about BASW England's Criminal Justice group, including how to get involved.

(Left to right): Dr Rukhsana Farooqi, Chair and Dr Helen Woods, Vice-Chair
Dr Rukhsana Farooqi, Chair (left) and Dr Helen Woods, Vice-Chair (right)