MP suggests children’s social workers wear bodycams to spot signs of domestic abuse

Children’s social workers should be equipped with body-worn cameras to spot signs of domestic abuse, an MP has suggested.

Conservative MP Bob Blackman told the Commons that introducing the technology would mean those making safeguarding decisions were less reliant on “hearsay evidence”.

Work and pensions minister Mims Davies told the House it was an “insightful idea”.

Mr Blackman, the MP for Harrow East, said: “Would my honourable friend think it would be a good idea now for children’s social workers in particular to have bodycams on them so they can actually record what goes on when they go into homes to spot the signs of domestic abuse, rather than relying on hearsay evidence when they get back to report to other people who are their seniors or making key decisions on what happens to the child and indeed the abusive parents?”

Ms Davies responded: “I thank my honourable friend for a remarkably insightful idea, actually.

“And I think it’s an incredibly brave and diverse job in terms of social work that we’re asking people to do, to go into homes and make judgments. And of course we’ve seen this happening in the police area.

“And I’m sure ministers will have listened and those on the Treasury bench should take not of his view because it is very difficult to look at two sides of the coin and in fact photographic evidence could be extremely helpful.”

A petition was set up last year calling for the use of bodycams by children’s social services to be made mandatory following the death of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.

The MPs were speaking during the third reading debate of the Child Support Collection (Domestic Abuse) Bill in the Commons.

The private member’s bill seeks to ensure domestic abuse victims can receive child maintenance payments without the need to interact with former partners.

The Bill’s sponsor, Conservative Sally-Ann Hart, said it would allow domestic abuse victims to choose a method called “collect and pay” rather than the default “direct pay”, and to make the change without their former partner’s consent.

Elsewhere during the debate, Ms Davies suggested the Government will consider changes to the charging system used for the collect and pay service which could see domestic abuse victims exempt from charges.

Parents receiving payments under the current collect and pay service are subject to a 4% deduction in the amount they receive, which critics argue should be waived in cases of domestic abuse.

Ms Davies said: “We do recognise that many parents in this Bill, particularly who need support, are some of the most vulnerable.

“So given all the circumstances, alongside the development of secondary legislation, we will be looking at the charging structure to use the collect and pay service and how this will interact with the proposed changes for victims of domestic abuse in these cases.”

The Bill received an unopposed third reading and will now progress to the House of Lords for further scrutiny.

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