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BASW follows up on attack on a social worker in Haringey

Every day, social workers open themselves to the unknown in order to help others

We were shocked and horrified to hear of the recent knife attack on a social worker in the course of their duties in Haringey on 6th August. 

As reported in the press, the social worker was with police officers seeking entry to premises to assess the welfare of children. The police had to force entry. The social worker was attacked by a 33-year-old man and sustained several serious knife wounds. Two police officers were also attacked.  A man was arrested at the scene and has since been charged with attempted murder and grievous bodily harm.

We know the social worker is recovering and BASW has reached out to offer support and assistance to the social worker and to Haringey Council.

This type of serious attack on social workers is rare, but has profound implications for those harmed, immediate colleagues and the wider profession.

BASW and SWU are continuing to work with relevant government departments in England to ensure the role of social workers in urgent and ‘emergency’ actions are well understood and supported in government policy and legislation.

Social workers always try to work collaboratively with families and individuals. Yet there are times when an ethical and legal duty to protect means taking assertive, proportionate action. This can be at pace, in partnership with other agencies, and in unknown circumstances, as appears to have occurred at this incident in Haringey. 

BASW Chair Gerry Nosowska said: "We know all social workers have been touched by what happened to our colleague, and we send heartfelt wishes to them.

"Every day, social workers open themselves to the unknown in order to help others. BASW will keep highlighting the incredible work that is done, and advocating for all the support social workers need."

We must ensure that we learn from this and all incidents. Employers must understand and plan for the safety of staff first and foremost. Social workers must know their rights to a safe working environment and effective risk management. This must include all social workers including agency and contracted staff.  

All social workers should have access to trade union support as well as the backing of their professional body, BASW. We work in partnership with the Social Workers Union to ensure tailored guidance and individual advice and representation from officers who are also social workers and know the context and risks within which social workers practice.

First and foremost, we are thinking about the social worker at the centre of this. We are pleased to be able to support them and we will be there for any member who needs us in such difficult times.