Social workers are ‘spat at’ in the street in Birmingham amid backlash over Arthur Labinjo-Hughes’ murder
Social workers are being ‘spat at’ in the street amid fury over the tragic death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, a children’s trust boss has revealed.
Six-year-old Arthur was beaten and tortured before his murder at the hands of stepmother Emma Tustin at her home in Solihull.
The case prompted a national outpouring of grief and ministers vowed to take action after Tustin was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 29 years and Arthur’s father, Thomas Hughes, was jailed for 21 years for manslaughter.
The Government announced an inquiry into how social services and local authorities liaise, and Boris Johnson spoke of introducing ‘Arthur’s Law’ preventing the release of child killers from prison.
The leader of Solihull Council also ordered an ‘independent verification’ of the local authority’s involvement in Arthur’s life.
Now Jenny Turnross, director of practice at Birmingham Children’s Trust, has confirmed reports that social workers have been physically and verbally abused as a direct result of the case. During one encounter, a social worker was spat at in the street.
Ms Turnross, who oversees 800 social workers in the trust, said: ‘People see these beautiful pictures of Arthur and think ”how can professionals and organisations allow something like to happen to this child”.
Six-year-old Arthur was beaten and tortured before his murder at the hands of stepmother Emma Tustin at her home in Solihull
The case prompted a national outpouring of grief and ministers vowed to take action after Tustin was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 29 years and Arthur’s father, Thomas Hughes, was jailed for 21 years for manslaughter
‘But what they don’t see is the thousands of children we support and keep safe. They don’t see that because, unfortunately, the good news doesn’t really travel.
‘It’s really such a shame, the public doesn’t understand that social workers do not have the power to remove children.
‘Our job is to go and investigate and write up our findings. If we are concerned, we put that information to the court or to the police.
‘We are the face of it but we are sat in a multi-agency arrangement.’
On December 7, amid an outcry over Arthur’s death, Ms Turnross had retweeted an online post saying: ‘It’s sad people jump to blame (social workers) for child deaths.
‘We are not clairvoyant and we do the best we can in extremely difficult circumstances. Please have some respect journalists, politicians and members of the community your self righteousness is (very) misplaced.’
Pictured: Bruises on Arthur Labinjo-Hughes’ back in April 2020, two months before his death
Ms Turncross added that social workers in Birmingham and across the county were facing a very challenging landscape.
‘We will be the target of some of that anger,’ she went on. ‘And that’s something that sadly, in this society, we have to be prepared for.’
She told Birmingham Live: ‘There have been reported incidents of social workers being called names and assaulted in the street. I can confirm that.’
Asked if a direct connection could be made between the Arthur case and the incidents, she said: ‘Yes it can because those are the conversations that are taking place in our communities at the moment.
‘Everybody is very distressed and saddened by what’s happened to Arthur so yes we can make that connection.
‘[On December 10] our lead member for children’s staff has spoken to staff about having zero tolerance to our staff being harmed and threatened. It’s a very difficult climate that we work in.’
Ms Turnross urged people to support social workers.
She said people in the media and Government could talk to communities and help them understand how the vast majority of children in the city are safe.
It comes after a passionate plea from the trust’s chief executive not to ‘demonise’ staff following the death of the six-year-old.