Social workers welcome review into Liam Fee’s death

Floral tributes for Liam, who died in 2014.
Floral tributes for Liam, who died in 2014.

Social work bosses have welcomed a review of events leading up to the death of toddler Liam Fee.

Trisha Hall, manager of the Scottish Association of Social Workers, said: “It is important that we know what went wrong and what could be done differently, if anything could have been done differently; not to point the finger of blame but to see if lessons can be learned.”

Trisha Hall, Scottish Association of Social Work

Trisha Hall, Scottish Association of Social Work

The review is being led by independent expert Dr Jacqui Mok and work has already begun to look at information available from files and records.

Phase two will examine new information which came to light during criminal proceedings and will involve interviews with relevant staff.

While Ms Hall was unable to comment on the case specifically, she said social workers were struggling to cope with an increase in referrals.

“We are very concerned about the workloads that social workers have but also the way they have to do their work.

“It’s not just the volume of cases, it’s also the fact there’s a lot more austerity and poverty and long term trauma associated with that. It’s no coincidence.”

New ‘hot-desking’ practices meant it was debatable whether social workers were being properly supervised.

She said: “I have a lot of respect for social workers working in today’s environment.

“Support is very important, otherwise they become traumatised themselves.”

Ms Hall added: “It’s tragic that the public don’t hear about the other cases where there has been a good outcome.”

Elaine Torrance, Social Work Scotland’s president said: “Liam’s death is an absolute tragedy and the level of cruelty that Liam experienced was deeply shocking. What makes it worse is that the abuse was carried out by the very people Liam should have been able to trust the most: his mum and his step mum.

“Cases like these are exceptional and children dying at the hands of their parents remains a rare occurrence in Scotland.”

Meanwhile Police Scotland has said it is not for them to comment on social work practices.

Detective Supt Gary Cunningham of Police Scotland, said the Major Investigation Team were brought in after Liam died.

“It’s not really for us to comment on whether we thought there were failings or not,” he said.

“Social work and the police in general have a lot of strategies in place to ensure the safety of children.

“It is upsetting and horrific when unfortunately and very occasionally these cases do surface where we see children being abused and I think everybody in the community has a focus, and should have a focus, on child protection, raising any reports when they think children are at risk.”

“Then we will all be in a better position to ensure that children are better protected and we can intervene to ensure justice is done when we have individuals that do target children.”