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Understanding the Significance of Risk Management

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According to Ulrich Beck (1992) we are living in a risk society. This term is used to describe a society that has become responsive to risk. Beck argues that in pre modern times, risk was viewed by people in terms of acts of God or disasters, accidents caused by nature; risks which people could not control or protect themselves from against. (REFERENCE) Beck explains that the perception of risk has evolved and has not remained static; it has become more difficult for people to control and to avoid. This has led people to feel vulnerability and fear. (Ferudi, 1997). Culpritt, 1999)


1942 heralded a time where the British government promised to protect its citizens from ‘the cradle to the grave’. (Beveridge, 1942). (Payne, 2005) Modern industrialisation brought with it wealth and prosperity to many, yet it heralded dangerous risks in pollution and coercive policing by the state due to increasing crime, unemployment and family breakdown leads to insecurities and lack of trust in the people of Britain. The state and politicians seek to identify these risks.As society becomes more complex, it becomes more difficult Risk has become a priority in government policy and legislation in welfare has elevated risk to the forefront of the political agenda on the premise that risk can be controlled and regulated. Questions still remain on how to best provide care, assess need, minimise risk and provide protection to the most vulnerable in society. Kemshall, 1996, 1997).


Governments need to be seen to address, manage all risk, to regulate and control these insecuritiesand protect its people. It is through the process of new technologies, communication and the lack of anonymity, every human transaction is recorded (social security, criminal records, proposed identity cards. Modernity is a period of rapid evolution, especially within social, political and economic exchanges. Fear, ethics and insecurity and regulation transmits pressure for employees of the state to provide care which leads to an over protective style of what is best to meet need and protect service users. (Giddens, 1990)


As Giddens(1993) describes this is described as ‘ontological security which is where people are constantly monitoring, assessing their place in society. People need structure, stability to guide themselves in life or as Giddens uses the term ‘life planning, Social workers main priority is about meeting helping with this life planning and those that are in need or at risk. Certain individuals and groups struggle to meet their own needs for whatever circumstances. Where this happens it the question that is responsible to meet these needs or provide this protection. Is it the state or the individual or a family or both. (Giddens, 1990,1991,1993)

Individualisation tendencies or as Webb calls it reflexive individualisation where people become aware of danger and seek ways to minimise it, this is where risk avoidance becomes central to the culture of society, eg, paedophiles, cars, tv programmes. In early modernity, peoples roles where taken for granted, social position, family membership , gender rolesNewburn,2007) Wheras individualism is the concern now aware and open to decision making, risk and risk awareness. People making individual choices about identity and lifestyle.


Liberal ideas came to an end in the 1980’s when Margaret Thatcher ‘s neo liberal approach tp policy making consisted of ideologies which consisted of a free market economy, privitization of services, individualism and that of least state intervention and a mixed economy of care.

Culpritt argues that neo liberalism is the political programme of risk society, that the government are there to monitor people’s behaviour, people are encouraged to assess their own individualised risks and those who can’t then state intervention is needed. The state surrenders its role to satisfy need.

Webb (2006) argues that neo liberal rule is most interested in the divide of people who can manage risk, termed ‘active citizens and those who cannot, term the underclass. This promotes the use of risk assessment and risk management, a tick box mentality and the audit of life itself and the risks posed to people in society especially in relation to policing, prisons and probation (Raine and Wilson, 1993 and Newburn, 2007)

The state imposes rules, laws and regulations, an assessment of societies need in order to give people protection and security. Michael Power (2004) describes this as an ‘audit society. Regulation and security lead to a regulatory state. Risk as Stalker, (2003) is related closely to vulnerability in relation to older people, those with disabilities, children who are at risk and users of the mental health services.


Titterton,(2005) adds that a positive view of risk is argued for one wghich promotes the idea of risk as an essential element for improving the quality of life.

RISK ASSESSMENT TOOLS. Eligibility. Low to high risk. TIME RESTRAINTS.

1) Main focus of interaction between sw to su is based on risk assessment tools. (actuarial methods)

2) Social workers opinions are lacking from literature yet both experience the effects of risk every day.

3) Because of political protocol the relationship is being damaged. (Barry, 2007)

Quote ‘ a culture of blame has developed , which is forcing social workers into monitoring behaviour rather than actually helping people make changes’.(Scottish Executive,2006,p1)

Howe (1992;1996) agrees that social workers have moved away from the process of getting to understand the origin of the problem , to critically comprehend, clarify what, who, In order to access services it will be the level of perceived risk that will gain priority rather than those most in need. (LOW TO HIGH)

responsible Victoria Climbie (Laming,2003) Baby Peter

(Laming, 2003)Professionals are being taken over by audit and tick box and recording system. The direct interaction with service users is being compromised due to an over emphasis on risk management.

Agency can become risk averse. Hence.

Because of intense media pressure according to daily telegraph the number of care orders increased by 70% between 2007 and November 2008) Daily telegraph

RISK assessment. ‘A risk assessment can only identify the probability of harm, assess the impact of it on key individuals and pose intervention strategies which may diminish the risk or reduce the harm. Assessments cannot prevent risk. (Hope and Sparks, 2000, p137)

Titterton (2005) sees risk assessment as ‘the process of estimating and evaluating risk, understood as the possibility of beneficial and harmful outcomes and the likelihood of the occurrence in a stated timescale. Titterton (2004) sees risk management as a ‘process ensuring that potential benefits identified by the risk assessment are increased and that the likelihood of harms occurring as a result of taking a risk are reduced’.(p92)

Davis, 1996 and Garrett, 2004,2009) define 2 approaches to risk assessment, risk management. Risk management and risk taking.

Positive benefits include the management of everyday tasks, cooking cleaning, shopping, money, sexual matters, developing skills, confidence and self esteem is indicative of the risk taking perspective.

Risk changes over time, it is not immobile, people’s perception of risk of the assertion of risk having‘positive and negative’ elements is made clear with service users need to live independently.


2 APPROACHES TO RISK ASSESSMENT, 1) actuarial, statistical calculation of risk, insurance industry extremely common in criminal justice and probation systems. 2) PROFESSIONAL JUDGEMENT. VALUES AND SKILLS THAT BIND THE PROCESS TOGETHER.

New public management has brought targets, audit , more bureaucracy in paper work, performance indicators and procedures. Quantity rather than quality. Giving senior management a close inspection of how sw are performing. (munroe, 2010)

Castel (1991) system for predicating outcomes of risk to children, follow designated steps in assessment, face accountability, all the while having a responsibility to the child and family.

Rose (1996b) individuals given task of responsibility of their own risks and their failures in managing it.

Accountibility. ( Hetherington and Katz,2003) highlight the claims that there has been an over reliance on mechanised risk assessment, giving fears of accountability which leads to structural procedures and audit.

Risk discourse presents in the mind someone to blame. This mainly being that of social workers. The 1990s until 2008 saw the emergence of Information Communication Technology (ICTs).



The inclusion of the service user is encouraged within the risk management process. Social work, values and morals. Minimise risk, develop strengths.

Hothersall, (2008) and Mclean (2007) good communication is vital in working with multi agencies. To prioritise risk with other professionals expertise. Risk management ‘premise that risk will always be evident yet if managed properly the risks can be nullified.

Lishman(2007) the management of risk, ‘inerventions should be proportionate to degree of perceived risk, and resources required to manage it.

Baby P case had ‘systemic and systematic failings contributed to his death should have been addressed in order to detect risks so as to prevent his awful death.

Parton(1999) argues that the wellbeing and needs of children is being placed further behind the order of strategies of managing risk.

Only since 1970’s has child protection come to dominate policy and practice(Parton,1985,1991)

Individuals to be protected by social insurance and protected from cradle to grave. Social solidarity remained until the 70s which brought unemployment, rediscovery of unemployment, crime, trade union militancy and decline in traditional nuclear family.

The new right changed the way of governing, auditing its people at a distance, encouraging individual choice.

Child abuse inquires after the 1973 death of Maria Colwell (Parton, 1985) this gathered pace in the 1980s due to the enquiries and death of Jasmine Beckford. Arousing debate amongst the public why had these children died of abuse and neglect at the hands of their parents or caretakers.

Recommendations stressed and encouraged sw to intervene in families to protect children and to develop strategies to see the signs of child abuse on a day to day basis.

This led to the Cleveland inquiry where sw and paediatrician overeacted and due to misunderstandings and poor communication, intervened prematurely.

This leads to the dilemma of when to intervene or not. FALSE NEGATIVES . POSITIVES.

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