The sexual abuse of vulnerable people by registered social workers in England: an analysis of the health and care professions council fitness to practise cases

Melville-Wiseman, J. (2016)
Oxford University Press
This article explores the context of sexual misconduct by social workers and asks the question: does the regulatory body for social workers in England provide an effective response when cases come to light? The focus is on the regulator as a key part of the institution of social work and examines how it responds to the relational vulnerabilities of victims; the attitudes of perpetrators to their offences; and the needs of victims within the process. The approach mirrors recent inquiries into the institutional context of abuse perpetrated by celebrities and within large institutions. Cases where a social worker has been struck off the register for sexual misconduct are analysed through the lens of institutional betrayal theory. Recommendations are made for a more victim-focused approach to be adopted by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), including an end to euphemistic references to harmful behaviours. Finally, implications for education, policy and practice are also presented.

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