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					Ray Braithwaite      Roger Kline            Sue Woolmore
Author and Trainer   Trade Union Official   LSC Board
                     ASPECT                 Adviser, NSPCC

Working with disguised compliance    
       and intimidation in             
         child protection

By using DVD demonstration with audience involvement, 
the consideration of individual experiences, an audience‐led 
enactment and providing some information, this session will 
help you gain an awareness of the complexities of working 
with disguised compliance and intimidation.

Child abuse and child protection is not an easy subject and 
this session may generate uncomfortable feelings in some or 
awaken past memories in others. Our intention is not to 
cause you discomfort but to offer information in one small 
aspect of this complex area in the hope that you will identify 
any additional training or resources you or your colleagues 
may require.
   Working with disguised compliance and intimidation in child protection

    A starting point

                          Ages of 219 children who were the subject of a serious case
                            review evaluated by Ofsted between 1 April 2008 and 31
                                                 March 2009
                     70                    64
Number of children


                                                        32            33


                          Under 1 year   1-5 years   6-10 years   11-15 years   16 years and
Learning lessons from serious case reviews year 2 – OFSTED 2009

 In total, 113 of the 219 children died. 44 were babies aged under one
 and 35 were children aged one to five.

 “It is really important to recognise that social workers and others
 working (with these situations) are working with some of the most
 difficult, chaotic and unpredictable families in the community.”

 “It is distressing to read, how often nobody thought to ask a child
 who was clearly demonstrating how unhappy they were what was

  “It is salutary to be reminded that the most common risk factor in
 the cases reviewed was neglect.”
  “....the failures and deficiencies which too often lay behind the
  sad events that triggered the reviews evaluated in 2008/09 were
  very little different than those that had emerged in the
  evaluations completed in 2007/08.”
Some Key messages from the Serious Case reviews

1.Failure to focus on the child – to see and speak to – to listen and take
account of what they said.

2.....undue reliance often placed on what the parents said ....examples of
professionals taking the word of parents at face value and not questioning
their account of events....

3.....particular perception of a case held, for example as being about housing
and finance ....prevented professionals seeing evidence of abuse which was
outside this framework....

4.....agencies poor at addressing chronic neglect....

5.....‘rule of optimism’ prevailed, making it hard to be curious and challenging
about what was happening to the children.

6.....perpetrators of child sexual abuse were powerful and persuasive

7.....families often hostile to and developed skilful strategies for keeping
professionals at arms length....
    Working with disguised compliance and intimidation in child protection

to frighten somebody into doing or not doing something

to create a feeling of fear, awe, or inadequacy in another


 Not all forms of intimidation come from the service
   Working with disguised compliance and intimidation in child protection

   Facing challenging situations
    Excessive workloads
    Inappropriate delegation
    Managing intimidation or bullying from        
    managers or service users

Using the social worker’s duty of care and Code 
     of Practice to ensure safe practice and             
           a safe working environment
   Working with disguised compliance and intimidation in child protection

           Three duties of care
1. The social worker to the service user
The common law duty of care, partly summarised in the GSCC Code
  of Practice

2. The employer to the social worker
Statutory duties (Health and Safety at Work etc Act and Regulations)
   and a general duty of care

3. The social worker to colleagues
The common law duty of care and S.7a HASAW

  The GSCC Code Practice is part of your contract of
       employment and requires you to highlight
    concerns, speak up for service users and respect
         colleagues, service users and carers.
      Working with disguised compliance and intimidation in child protection

Ensuring a safe working environment
The employer has statutory health and safety duties
 Employers are required to systematically identify risks and hazards,
 evaluate them, and take precautions to prevent harm occurring to
 staff or the public
The social worker is required to practice competently
The GSCC Code of Practice
 requires you to (3.4) bring “to the attention of your employer or the
appropriate authority resource or operational difficulties that might get in
the way of the delivery of safe care”, and
states (5.7) that “you must not put yourself or other people at
unnecessary risk”

  Staff, their managers and safety representatives have
    rights and duties which employers must respect.
   Working with disguised compliance and intimidation in child protection


Involves clients not admitting their lack of commitment
 to change but working subversively to undermine the
                                 Peterborough – Safeguarding Children Board
   Working with disguised compliance and intimidation in child protection
    Working with disguised compliance and intimidation in child protection

Examples of disguised compliance:

The family appears to be co-operating, doing just enough to
neutralise professionals’ authority and to re-create the
potential for ‘closure’ – either closure of an effective working
relationship, or closure of the case as a whole

• Lots of examples:
  clean the house week before review
  school attendance improves for 2 weeks
  engaging with some services, selective co-operation
  plausible excuses for missed appointments
  presenting for clinic appt day before crucial home visit
 Working with disguised compliance and intimidation in child protection

Identifying disguised compliance
   conflicting accounts from family members
   conflicting accounts from different professionals
   conflicting accounts from neighbours
   persistently unmet needs of children
   repeat incidents of harm/neglect to children
   detailed, multi-agency chronology

Close partners of disguised compliance
   rule of optimism
   start again syndrome
   cultural relativism
   assessment paralysis
      Working with disguised compliance and intimidation in child protection

What you should expect from your agency
Dealing with hostility and disguised compliance is not easy.
It has everything to do with human behaviour and how we each react to 
    different situations – both families and professionals.

Key to responding to this are:
• agreed, manageable caseload
• regular supervision with experienced line manager
• access to urgent supervision/case discussion when needed
• opportunities for reflection on practice, to critically review and revise 
• co‐working challenging cases
• agreed route for dealing with conflict in case management
• regular attendance of involved professionals in case discussions e.g. core 
   group meetings
• access to training
  Working with disguised compliance and intimidation in child protection


Have you ever been placed in a situation where 
you felt intimidated and/or where the parents or 
carers have used disguised compliance? 

What happened?

And what level of support did you receive from 
your agency?
 Working with disguised compliance and intimidation in child protection

The following examples, some of which demonstrate 
disguised compliance and intimidation, are from the 
NSPCC Training Pack 

        Safeguarding Children – A Shared Responsibility 

 Please consider for discussion: 

      Working with disguised compliance and intimidation in child protection

Catalysts for collusion with disguised compliance

        overwhelming workloads
        insufficient resources to meet identifiable needs
        exhausted, demoralised workers
        targets and timescales for work e.g. initial assessments

Impacts of disguised compliance and intimidation on decision making process

        reluctance to challenge intimidating adult 
        voice of child subordinated to that of intimidating adult
        needs of children not identified
        needs of child potentially unmet
        cases may be prematurely closed
        cases re‐referred as issues remain unresolved and probably worse
        at worst, there is a child’s death or other tragic event
       Working with disguised compliance and intimidation in child protection

Volunteers please for an audience led enactment

Social worker to complete a home visit on a child (Ricky) – 16 weeks old ‐ who 
was seen by the GP yesterday. The father took the child to the GP with some 
unusual marks to his nose.
The parents are aware of your visit and appear co‐operative.

1.Mother          (Jade Brown)
2.Father (Peter Jenkins)
3.Social worker
4.Co‐worker (?)

Stages = Before ‐ how are you feeling about the visit ? To parents ? To sw

                  During – stopped enactment with questions/comments

                  After – how do you feel about the outcome of the visit?
 Working with disguised compliance and intimidation in child protection

Where children are supported at home, the child 
protection plan must clearly identify the objectives to be 
achieved, with timescales, that signal either the 
withdrawal of support to the family or, if the objectives are 
not achieved, indicate the point when further action must 
be taken. This is particularly important in cases of child 
neglect where often there is no single event that ‘triggers’
matters escalating to an application for a court order. 
….Realistic timescales need to be applied for these cases to 
ensure that a child is not subjected to long‐term neglect.’

                                                       Laming, para. 3.12
   Working with disguised compliance and intimidation in child protection

                       MODEL FOR INTERVENTION

•Identify the process yourself

•Look at the history – how long has this been occurring?

•Discuss with previous workers FIND OUT what worked for 

•Consider using same approaches OR.....
         Working with disguised compliance and intimidation in child protection

                              MODEL FOR INTERVENTION

1. Tell parent/carer of the process – use the definition and the examples

2. Describe the  disguised/non‐compliant behaviour identified in them to them

3. Identify a set of behaviours you expect and require

4. Outline what has the person to gain from changing their behaviour

5. Detail the consequences of continued non‐compliant behaviour

6. Monitor changes and discuss with parent/carer on regular basis

7. Ensure changes occur within set time frame AND HAVE A PLAN if they do not

8. Monitor and maintain – watch for slippage
  Working with disguised compliance and intimidation in child protection

The Bridge Childcare Development Service in their report (1997) into 
the death of Ricky Neave in 1994 recommended

..... “when a parent is considered to be threatening or hostile any 
presumption that they are different with their children should be 
rigorously tested.”

They also recommended in these situations that

.... “recognition be given by managers to the impact on social workers
and other staff of parental aggression and any fear that is aroused in 
them and the consequences for decision making and practice.

Adequate professional supervision and support must be given in these 
 Working with disguised compliance and intimidation in child protection

The effects of experiencing intimidation or facing 
        disguised compliance in our work
                         Performance Guilt
                         Reconstruction Anxiety
                         Focussed resentment or
                         Loss of Motivation
    Working with disguised compliance and intimidation in child protection

We hope this session will help you to....

 1. Insist on guidelines for supervision from your organisation
 2. Discuss all your concerns in supervision
 3. Request the use of a mentor who has specialised
 4. Enter into a debate with your employer about your case-
     load size (15 max)
 5. Ensure you have sufficient knowledge and training in this
     area - insist on annual re-awareness training
 6. Take measures to ensure your personal safety - use the
     HSE legislation AND address intimidation from ANY
 7. Ensure your cases do not begin to drift
 8. Ask to see your agencies policy statement on working with
     hostile and non-compliant clients
 9. Maintain the rule of Respectful Uncertainty
 10. Work in pairs in all these types of situations
Ray Braithwaite       Roger Kline            Sue Woolmore
Author and Trainer    Trade Union Official   LSC Board
                      ASPECT                 Adviser, NSPCC

       Working with disguised 
     compliance and intimidation in 
            child protection

Friday: 8th February 2009....
....Baby death probe exposes system flaws
 The handling of the death of a one-month-old baby girl has been
 brought into question following the publication of a serious case review.

  ...initial effective communication between police, children’s social
  care and health services gave way to acceptance of the parents’
  view the children were “dirty but happy”
  Assessment paralysis appears to have set in....
         ....stopped professionals from prioritising the immediate
                   needs of the child
   ...parents used heroin substitute methadone and other drugs but
   that information was not communicated between services

  ....Police were regularly called to the area by the parents to deal with
  allegations of violence, criminal damage, intimidation and drunken
INTIMIDATION – the more common examples

Safeguarding Children – a shared responsibility NSPCC 2005 Training

Ofsted Investigations of serious case reviews April 2007-March 2008

Practitioner Guidance. North Ayrshire’s Child Care Protection Committee

Peterborough – Safeguarding Children Board

What do you do if you think a child is being abused? (2005) HM Gov.

Working together to safeguard children (2006) HM Gov.

Learning lessons from serious case reviews year 2 OFSTED 2009
   Working with disguised compliance and intimidation in child protection

       (Harry Ferguson. Professor of social work. University of Nottingham.
       The Guardian, Thursday 13th November 2008)

1.Child protection practitioners to take a very directive approach
to finding out what is going on in families

2.Identify who actually resides with and has contact with the

3.Insist on working with fathers/step-fathers

4.Always see the child’s clean body

5. Be clear about not accepting intimidatory behaviour –
establish ground rules/contract early on

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