The Police and Social Workers ‘Working Together’
Summary: In the United Kingdom, following the death of Victoria ClimbiÈ, child protection procedures are currently being reviewed once again. At the core of child protection activity is the police/social work relationship and the notion of ‘working together’ to respond to child abuse. However, there is often a failure to interrogate what rhetorical assertions about multi-disciplinary working actually amount to in terms of the micro-politics of ‘joined up’ endeavours. This police/social relationship needs to be analysed because of specific issues related to child protection, but also because of the creation of multi-disciplinary youth offending teams and the more encompassing popularity, within eee policy discourse of New Labour, of ‘joined up’ approaches to the delivery of child welfare services. • Findings: Interviews conducted with police officers and social workers in three different locations illuminate how they view their roles. Respondents reveal the tensions in ‘working together’ and a police tendency to perceive themselves as the ‘lead agency’. In addition, issues bound up with recruitment and selection are significant. Within joint police/social work specialist units, there is a blurring of the social work role. • Applications: It is argued that joint working between social workers and police officers needs to be subject to reflexive scrutiny. Perhaps, in the past, aspects of policing have been inadequately examined in social work education and training. The creation of a new social work degree may provide, however, an opportunity to address this issue. More generally, et should allow course participants the space to comprehend critically other ‘disciplines’ and the social processes that underpin joint working paradigms.