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Social work on trialThe Colwell Inquiry and the state of welfare$
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Ian Butler

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781847428684

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847428684.001.0001

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November and December 1972 …

November and December 1972 …

(p.19) two November and December 1972 …
Social work on trial

Ian Butler

Mark Drakeford

Policy Press

Maria Colwell's death had to be accounted for and not just by the police and the prosecuting authorities. On the Whitehawk Estate there was anger; at first directed towards Maria's mother Pauline Kepple who, on release from police custody, returned to their home at 119 Maresfield Road in Brighton. This anger had not abated by the time of the verdict at the trial of Maria's stepfather William Kepple, and Pauline had to move out of the family home. Maria had been known to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and to East Sussex County Council's Social Services Department almost all her life. The express purpose of the public inquiry that, by twists and turns, followed her death in the summer of 1973, was ‘to inquire into and report upon the care and supervision provided by local authorities and other agencies in relation to Maria Colwell and the co-ordination between them’. As well as the actions of particular social workers, social work itself as a form of welfare practice became accountable for Maria Colwell's death.

Keywords:   Maria Colwell, public inquiry, Pauline Kepple, William Kepple, Brighton, social work

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