Suspicion or support
I’ve had some interesting replies to my article in yesterday’s Society Guardian where I questioned whether it is right to expect probation officers and social workers to have both a supportive and suspicious mindset at the same time. Doesn’t this run contrary to how human beings naturally see the world?
One comment was from the probation side, said the problem for probation officers was the enormous time spent on paperwork, directly impacting on the time they have to build relationships so that they can have a chance to be supportive. From the social work side, I had a interesting reply suggesting that this tension between suspicion and support is a documented difficulty for social workers. The human mind prefers and “either/or” situation, and trying to deliberately hold two opposing views at the same time needs maturity and training. The question for him was whether we are building failure in the system by expecting very young (and quite low paid) social workers to meet this challenge.
It seems obvious to me this is something policy makers need to engage with more carefully. It is futile to tear our hair when a child known to social workers is killed or someone on probation commits a horrible crime, and not ask these questions about what we are expecting professionals to do.