Bogus Social Workers

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Anonymous

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#1
Bogus social workers-urban myth or not?

I remember there being a spate of bogus social workers stories in the 80's (you know 'health professional' turns up unannounced at house and demand to see child and/or take them away). Only last year our local rag run a front page story about one. Do these stories exist in other countries or are they a complete fabrication?

Considering that, to my knowledge, not one attempt has been successful why do these bogus health visitors etc. keep doing it?

Call me cynical but the whole thing smacks of urban myth to me. I have not seen a first hand interview with the people who this happened to and like all urban myths it strikes at our deepest fears, in this case the safety of our children.....

hmmmmmm, over to you........

:confused:
 

JamesWhitehead

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#2
It sounds a bit like an urban myth but sadly I think this is for
real. Well real enough for it to feature as a dramatised scene on
Crimewatch, if that counts for much. Certainly the police have
launched serious investigations into alleged cases.

I don't have chapter and verse on any of the cases but it does
seem that some sick individuals have used the mask of
authority to enter people's homes and abuse their children.

The odd thing is that a woman seems to be standard. For some
very primal reasons that makes it seem even worse. :eek:
 

carps13

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#3
Hmmm. The police do launch periodic investigations into bogus social workers but have yet, to my knowledge, to make a single arrest - let alone a successful prosecution.

Of course, this by itself does not mean that it follows that bogus social workers (BSW) do not exist, but it is suggestive of a relationship with other kinds of unresolved panics.

In Mike Dash's Borderlands, he looked into cases of BSWs throughout the 70s and 80s and found that a common pattern emerged. After an initial report is publicised in the press, a slew of people report similar occurences and the events become something of a media event, with new cases coming every few days. However, a week or two after the 'panic' starts, the cases tail off. Typically, the person is visited by a male and female who train to gain admittance to the house, often with claims that they are concerned for the welfare of a child who is resident at the property. They normally are reported as claiming to represent the local social services. The parent/homeowner invariably manages to dissuade the BSWs and the leave in a nondescript saloon car, sometimes promising to return at a later date.

Investigation into a handful of cases suggests that in the heightened emotional atmosphere of one of these 'panics' many routine events are wrongly interpreted. At least one TV crew, doorstepping people for a reaction, was actually reported as a team of BSWs themselves.

To me, this suggests that the BSW phenonema exists on the same kind of level as the periodic spasms of localised enthusiasm for one pyramid scheme or another, or UFO 'flaps'.

I would contend that this is some kind of mass psychic manifestation of popular fears and myths about State agencies. Everyone knows how politically correct and personally invasive social workers are, right? All those examples of 'political correctness gone mad' that fill our daily news intake become part of a belief system that postulates the existence of a unseen yet omniscient state organ that operates with contempt for the law and (more crucially in this case) 'common sense' and 'decency'. A lot of people live in fear of state surveillance - particularly in the more private spheres of their lives.

The connection with child welfare - especially when set in the context of concurrent beliefs in ritual Satanic child abuse - merely heightens the emotional impact surrounding BSW flaps. It is telling that there are no similar flaps reporting bogus NSPCC workers, or bogus Taxmen. These kinds of agencies do not inspire the same degree of suspicion.

This does not rule out the possibility that people do sometimes pose as social workers for sinister reasons. It may be that real cases of this act as catalysts for collusion with temporary collective belief.
 

lucydru

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#5
In previous posts the 70's and 80's are mentioned but I remember on several ocassions hearing about them in the early 90's.

lucydru
 

carps13

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#6
Well I've just been looking into this to see how common this sort of flap is.

Click Here for a good sampling of recent reports and Police/Council warnings. Most of these cases have happened over the last two years - so the phenonema still appears to be a relatively common one.

The one uniting feature of all of the cases, is that there is not a single arrest or proescution... strange, non?
 

carps13

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#7
Sorry!

I don't know why my URL turned out like that in my previous message... and I can't find a way of editing the page.

If you want to find a good list of recent reports, go to http://www.google.com, and do an advanced search for the literal string "bogus social worker"
 
A

Anonymous

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#9
I know of one real case of Bogus Social Worker here in the United States. About four or five years ago, in St. Louis, Missouri, a man was gaining entry into the homes of Bosnian immigrants. He had bogus identification as a child welfare worker and managed to convince several families that it was his official duty to inspect their young daughters, naked, to check for physical abuse. After some of the parents became suspicious and notified the police, the man was arrested, convicted, and is still in prison.
 

JamesWhitehead

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#10
It does seem to have all the signs of a social panic, on reviewing
some of those links.

Mind you, if we went by police detection rates, most crimes
could be myths. :rolleyes:
 

Justin_Anstey

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#11
This is the total of the local newspaper stories from Gloucestershire from the last three and a half years.:

'Bogus visitor on the loose' Glos. Echo, 6 March 1998.

'Police warning on bogus nurse caller' Citizen (Glos), 8 April 1998.

- Not sure if there is a connection between those two stories because I don't actually have them to hand, just my notes of the titles, dates and source.
----------------------------------
'Bogus social worker alert' Citizen (Glos), 12 August 1999.

-On the basis of a stolen identity pass, not an actual encounter.
----------------------------------

'Bogus nurse warning.' Citizen, 20 Nov. 1999.
----------------------------------

'Families warned of bogus social worker.' Citizen, 19 Feb. 2000.

'Social worker is 'genuine'.' Citizen, 22 Feb. 2000.
----------------------------------
There must be something to it otherwise why would the authorities feel the need to put out warnings?

It seems, however, that last year's petrol crisis caused more of a panic:
'Blockade hoax sparks petrol panic chaos'. 20 Sept. 2000.

-Justin.
 
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Anonymous

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#12
BSW stories still crop up on the ITV teletext service for the Yorkshire region. (The fact that I know this does, I realise, show how sad I am!)

I'm pretty certain that there are no 'real' BSW's, most cases are probably misinterpretation, and a few will be without any foundation outside the mind of the person reporting the incident.

It does seem that some urban myths are particularly easily accepted by the forces of Laura Norder, a good example being the perrenial 'LSD tatoos'. I suspect that, once there's a certain critical mass of cases of (say) BSW reports, the police or whoever think, 'Oh yes, I've heard of this happening before', and tend to give the story undeserved credibility.

There's probably a connection with the recent tendency to accept uncritically any allegations of child abuse - the False Memory Syndrome scandal springs to mind.
 
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Anonymous

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#13
This is from the Scottish Sunday Mail website: http://www.sundaymail.co.uk/shtml/NEWS/P29S2.shtml


BOGUS SOCIAL WORKERS HUNT


POLICE were yesterday hunting two distinctively dressed bogus social workers who made a suspicious call at a house.

The man and woman rushed off when challenged for identification at the property in Southside Road, Inverness, on Friday. Social work bosses said they had no staff in the area at the time.

The man was described as 40 to 45, 5ft 10in tall, stockily built, with short ginger hair, goatee beard, wearing a green tweed sports jacket, check shirt, bright red tie, bottle green trousers and dark rectangular-framed glasses.

The woman was 30 to 40, 5ft 6in, with shoulder-length brown hair, wearing a green coat and brown shoes and carrying a briefcase
 

rynner2

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#14
Perhaps the MIB are learning to loosen up..?!

Distinctive clothing, etc, is often a sign of disguise. The person involved has only to take off the false beard and glasses, etc, to become quite anonymous.
 

rynner2

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#17
Thanks Luce for the link. It's amazing how many threads there are that I still haven't seen! I'll continue on this one, however, as this is most likely to be picked up by those looking for new posts.

The child abuse aspect could be a red herring. If the BSWs were really just thieves they may have wanted a pretext of gaining entry to see if there were any easy pickings, figuring that a parent concentrating on a child could be easily distracted. If a theft was carried out, then presumably that's how it would have been reported, but if not the parent's suspicion and then fear for the child might have conjured up a more disturbing scenario.
 
A

Anonymous

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#20
there are also cases of Bogus TV Licence Inspectors ?!?!

they may as well walk around with a badge saying hit me with a baseball bat.

The odd thing is that TV Licensing cannot get enough real ones and they are trying to recruit constantly.

:confused:
 
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Anonymous

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#21
I find the whole BSW thing intriguing. If you think about it, it's such a high risk method of attempting an abduction.
You practically go to the front door, and ask the parents for access to the child! Not only that, but the parent would certainly get a good look at the visitors, and if suspicions were raised and Dad was home, then they run the risk of an altercation or even capture. Seems to me they're better off swiping a kid off the streets rather than going to such bizarre and elaborate lengths which have a success rate of precisely zero.
 

rynner2

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#22
But who says BSWs are abductors? I don't recall any cases of a child being abducted from its home by these characters. Perhaps that's what makes it so weird.

Theories:
a) burglars casing the joint, or looking for opportunistic chances to nick something.

b) A type of MIB

c) Sad weirdos who get kicks from invading others' most private places.

As for being recognised, a little disguise is very effective, even when it's obvious! People spend so much time noticing you are wearing a wig that they don't notice anything else.

Sometimes I like to test myself when I'm out in the street. I imagine I've just been asked for the description of the last woman who walked by, or the make and registration number of the last car that passed. Maybe it's just me, but I don't do very well!

Once in a sailing race I was involved in an incident caused by another boat ignoring the right of way rule. After we sorted ourselves out, three of us couldn't even agree on the colour of the offending vessel!
 
A

Anonymous

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#23
Good point, rynner, but the alternatives still seem extremely unlikely. I don't think (a) as it's too risky and doesn't fit a typical burglar profile. (b) I can't comment on, but (c) is interesting.
It reminds me of trying to sell a house - you wonder exactly how many of the people visiting to look around have any intention of buying or are just being nosey. It still seems like a risky tactic, though. However point (c) did remind me of the phenomenon of certain disturbed people who pose as paramedics. Maybe there are plenty of female wannabe childcare/social workers who have persuaded their male partner they are really employed by social services. Some blokes at least claim to have been duped into thinking his spouse was pregnant before she abducts a baby and claims it's hers.
Food for thought(?)
 
A

Anonymous

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#24
BSW's / North East Bogus Social Workers

Not an advert for a profesional association (N.S.B.G.S.W. - defending the rights of elusive fake child examiners in the region...) but a query.

I grew up in Newcastle and moved away when I was nineteen and always remember there being periodic rashes of bogus social worker reports in 'The Evening Chronicle' and I think 'The Journal' (Two local newspapers for non-North Eastern people). Does this still happen? I left in 1996.

Secondly, the majority of cases I have come across of BSW's seem to have been reported in northern English towns. Is this the case or am I being simply selective in what I remember? Reading a book about the Cleveland child abuse case ("Unofficial Secrets" by Beatrix Campbell) it struck me that there seemed to be a correlation between the media circus that flew up around the activities of Marietta Higgs from mid 1987 onwards and the beginnings of the BSW phenomena.

Again, do facts bear out this hypothesis?
 

JamesWhitehead

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#25
There has been some discussion of this already on the board. I
had assumed BSW were real but some posters have pointed out
their similarity with other social panics. I think at times the police
have taken them seriously - make of that what you will. ;)

I also found some scathing stuff on the web about Beatrix Campbell - there
is a link somewhere in a thread on Satanic Abuse in News Stories.
:rolleyes:
 
A

Anonymous

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#27
Given that this could be a manifestation of social panic, can we expect an increase in new cases under the current climate?
There was a report today of an attempted abduction (in the street, nothing to do with BSWs) which made me think of this.
 
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Anonymous

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#28
Agree totally DD. The media is awash with stories which all link back to child safety. I don't like this climate I find it creepy and it smacks of moral panic.
 
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