Lib Dem conference: Compulsory social work secondments proposed

Social workers should be required to complete secondments with the police and other agencies, according to the Liberal Democrats.

Liberal Democrat spokeswoman for children Annette Brooke will tomorrow set out her party’s proposals for safeguarding children in her second Protecting Our Children policy paper.

Speaking at a fringe event ahead of the paper’s launch, she told delegates that compulsory secondments would benefit the whole children’s workforce.

She said: “A social worker for example could spend three months working in the health service, you could have a housing officer working in social care or the police. That should become part of continuous professional development. Rather than having complicated databases wouldn’t it be better to get people talking to each other?”

Brooke claimed that money saved from scrapping the ContactPoint database could fund the secondments programme, as well as freeing up extra cash to help support social workers.

Protecting Our Children also pledges to offer all families access to a universal health visitor service and guarantees parents of children over 18-months-old access to free parenting classes and 20 hours free childcare.

Brooke said: “A critical issue facing us is to get the right balance between prevention and intervention and crisis reaction.”

Other proposals include involving housing professionals more in safeguarding and reveiwing the thresholds for taking children into care.