Social Work Reports to Childrens' Hearings

Moore, George (1990) Social Work Reports to Childrens' Hearings. MLitt(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis is concerned with the production and presentation of Social Enquiry Reports by Social Workers to the Scottish Childrens Hearings System. It seeks to provide an understanding of the perceptions of the people compiling these documents, and of the organisational constraints under which they work. It provides an analysis of Reports and suggests that a new approach is required in order to enhance the quality of reports and mobilise modern technology in pursuit of cost-effective operations. Ch. 1 provides a detailed account of methodological problems encountered and of the ways in which these were met. It shows why the classic research design was not employed, and how a two centre design came to be adopted. The kind of preliminary work which failed to evolve into a viable research project but which proved to have certain use values is given in broad outline, and the problems created by the Local Authority in respect of access arrangements is placed in practical and in theoretical contexts. The develop ment of the three main schedules is discussed with particular reference to the questions of relevance, reliability and validity. Due account is taken of the statistical methods employed and of the analysis of the data. It is shown how the work spawned a new model of Report and a general overview of the methodology is given. Ch. 2 deals with the background to the Kilbrandon Report and demonstrates that the Report was the culmination of a long process of change dating back to 1927, and that in bringing forward the concept of a new style Juvenile Justice System Kilbrandon set in train a series of changes which affected the whole range of Social Services in Scotland. Ch. 3 picks up the importance of this change and discusses the organisational settings of the Depts. and the kinds of responses which the workforce produce with reference to the core problem being addressed. It places this discussion in the context of the legal nature of the work and of the rights and responsibilities of those concerned in it. Ch. 4 is an account of observations made of the work of the Hearings in one area, with reference to the contributions made by the reporting Social Workers. Ch. 5 takes as a starting point the proposition that in order to understand the production one must first of all appreciate the perceptions of the producers. The analysis of the schedule dealing with the views and opinions of Social Workers about issues connected with the Hearings System is given in this context. Ch. 6 then turns to the analysis of 158 reports from one area and 40 from another. It is held, on the basis of the evidence that the kind and quality of the observed deficiencies are cause for concern. Doubt is cast on previous work which attempted to explain this phenomenon. Ch. 7 is the presentation of analysis of Reporter's files, in relation to certain offence characteristics. This is relatively new ground for research in this field, and there is a demonstration that it is a matter of considerable public policy importance. Ch. 8 poses the question of the influence of S. E. R. s on decision making, with particular reference to the issue as to the weight which may be placed on content as against the often strongly worded recommendations in reports. It shows that there are certain in-built problems in the internal policies of the Reporter's Dept. and that Panels seem to follow strong lines in SERs but exercise considerable discretion where these are absent. Ch. 9 argues strongly for new models and approaches to SER production and details of the work which brought about the 'Ayrshire' format. It goes beyond this in a postulation that would divorce the information provided for the Reporter from the formal SER produced for the Hearing. It suggests that this would radically cut back on time spent in this task. It also suggests that it would provide an up-to-date model capable of computerisation which would eliminate much of the uncertainty and vagueness from this area of Social Work operations. The final chapter draws together what are regarded as salient points and issues in an effort to place the problems with which the thesis has been concerned within the context of Social Assessment. In that it argues that if this is accepted then there is scope for the development of models and strategies which would effectively mobilise the strengths and skills of the Social Work profession in the production of Social Inquiry Reports of high quality and utility.

Item Type: Thesis (MLitt(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Social work
Date of Award: 1990
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1990-78060
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2020 12:09
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2020 12:09

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