BUCKINGHAMSHIRE’S top child protection boss today slammed “totally wrong” attacks on social workers over the Baby P scandal.

Buckinghamshire County Council leader David Shakespeare said child social workers were “vitally important” and did not deserve widespread demonisation.

He spoke after Liberal Democrat councillor Julia Wassell urged this morning’s full meeting of the council to publicly support social workers, which are managed by the authority.

There has been a widespread outpouring of anger towards Haringey Council in London over its involvement with a family that lived with Baby P.

Baby P died in August 2007 despite 60 visits from authorities over eight months.

His mother, her boyfriend and their lodger, Jason Owen, 36, were convicted of causing or allowing the toddler's death and will be sentenced next month.

Cllr Wassell urged members to “condemn the outpouring of vitriol against social workers”.

She said: “It is fully evident that day after day, week after week, year after year, social workers are fully engaged with protection of vulnerable adults and children.”

Cllr Wassell, who represents Bowerdean, Micklefield & Totteridge on the council, said this is why these “high profile cases are all the more shocking”.

She called for an end to “regrettable” levels of “social worker bashing”.

Councillor Shakespeare said: “I agree with you absolutely. Social workers are so vitally important that we in this council thought things that are being said about them by the media are totally wrong and totally erroneous.

“Social workers have my support, my gratitude and thanks and continue to do so.”

The effectiveness of the council’s child protection functions is assessed by Ofsted, which is now investigating the Baby P case.

Its latest report on the council, from last year, said: “Appropriate action is taken to protect children who are most at risk of abuse.

“All children on the child protection register are allocated to a social worker and all child protection reviews are held on time.

It adds: “Buckinghamshire has a low number of social care referrals but an appropriately high percentage result in an initial assessment.

“Progress is being made in completing these within the required timescales but the percentage remains lower than nationally. This means that some families wait too long.”