Dr Kampadi Okpa

Profession: Practitioner psychologist

Registration Number: PYL18569

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 09:00 28/04/2016 End: 16:00 28/04/2016

Location: Health and Care Professions Council, 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Struck off

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Allegation

Whilst registered as a Practitioner Psychologist:


1. On 29 April 2015 at Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court you were convicted of sixteen counts of making an indecent photograph of a child contrary to sections 1(1)(a) and 6 of the Protection of Children Act 1978.


2. By reason of your conviction, as set out at paragraph 1, your fitness to practise as a Practitioner Psychologist is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters
Service


1. The Panel was satisfied on the documentary evidence provided, that the Registrant, Dr Kampadi Okpa, had been given proper notice of this hearing in accordance with the Rules. Notice of this Hearing was sent by first class post to his address on the Register by letter dated 25 February 2016. The Notice contained the relevant required particulars. A copy of the Notice was additionally sent to the Registrant via email on the same date.

Proceeding in absence

2. The Panel heard the application from Ms Johnson, on behalf of the HCPC, to proceed in the absence of the Registrant.

3. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor, who advised that the discretion to proceed in the absence of the Registrant was one that must be exercised with the utmost care and caution.

4. Having considered the circumstances the Panel determined to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. The reasons are as follows:

• Service of the appropriate Notice of this Hearing has been properly effected. The Registrant has not been in contact with the HCPC since an email he sent to the HCPC on 8 October 2015, following the Notice the HCPC sent to him of the Investigating Committee’s decision that there was a case to answer in respect of the allegations.  The Registrant has not requested an adjournment, nor would the Panel suppose that there would be any greater chance of the Registrant attending in the future were it to adjourn.

• There is a public interest in proceeding. This is a serious allegation and  the conviction of 29 April 2015 relates to conduct dating back to January 2013.

• In all the circumstances the Panel was of the view that the Registrant knew or ought to have known of today’s Hearing and has voluntarily absented himself.

Background

5. The Registrant was, at the material time, a registered clinical psychologist employed at 5 Boroughs Partnership Trust.

6. On 7 October 2014, police officers executed a search warrant at the Registrant’s home and recovered a computer, and other electronic devices, all of which were forensically examined. A total of 4,310 indecent images of children were recovered from the devices, of which 887 fell into the most serious categorisation of images involving penetrative sexual activity, and some of the children in the images were as young as seven.

7. On 27 March 2015, he resigned from the Hospital with immediate effect, although he had not worked at the Hospital since 7 October 2014.

8. He pleaded guilty on 29 April 2015, at the Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court,  to 16 charges of making an indecent photograph of a child. The Magistrates committed the Registrant for sentence to the Crown Court. On 27 May 2015 he was sentenced to a 3 year Community Order with two requirements. The first requirement was a 3 year period of supervision. The second requirement was to attend the Northumbria Sex Offender Treatment Programme as directed by the probation officer. In addition he was also subject to the Sex Offender Notification Requirements for a period of 5 years, and a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, the duration being until further order.

Decision on Facts

9. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the legal assessor. It recognised that the burden of proving the facts rests on the HCPC and the standard of proof required is the civil standard.

10. The Panel had regard to Rule 10(1)(d), which, in terms of the evidence required to prove a conviction, states: 'where the registrant has been convicted of a criminal offence, a certified copy of the certificate of conviction (or, in Scotland, an extract conviction) shall be admissible as proof of that conviction and of the findings of fact upon which it was based’.

11. The Panel was provided with a copy of the Memorandum of Conviction from Manchester and Salford Magistrates' Court for 29 April 2015, which shows that the Registrant pleaded guilty to 16 counts of ‘Making an Indecent Photograph of a Child, contrary to sections 1(1)(a) and 6 of the Protection of Children Act 1978. It also shows that the case was committed to the Crown Court for sentence.

12. The Panel was also provided with a copy of the Certificate of Conviction from the Manchester Crown Court, which shows that the Registrant was sentenced on 27 May 2015 to a Community Order for 3 years, with two requirements: (1) supervision for the three year period; and (2) attendance on a Sex Offender Programme.

13. The Panel was therefore satisfied to the required standard, that charge 1 was proved.

Decision on Grounds

14. The Panel next considered the statutory grounds. The Panel was satisfied that a conviction is one of the statutory grounds.

Decision on Impairment

15. The Panel next considered whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired by reason of his convictions. Ms Johnson  submitted that the Registrant, by virtue of his convictions had breached standards 3 and 13 of the Standards of conduct, performance and ethics (August 2012). She submitted that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired. She said that convictions for indecent images of children were serious, both in respect of protection of the public and that they would undermine public trust in the profession.

16. The Panel accepted the advice of the legal assessor. It had regard to the Practice Note on Conviction and Caution Allegations and the Practice Note on impairment, and in particular the two elements of impairment, namely the ‘personal component’ and the ‘public component’.

17. In respect of the ‘personal’ component, the Panel was of the view that these were serious convictions, which involved an element of risk to the public, in particular children. The convictions were for a large quantity of indecent images, in some cases of young children, and the indecent images involved the exploitation and abuse of children.

18. The Panel was also mindful of the fact that the Registrant would still be subject to the three year Community Order imposed in the criminal proceedings, the Sex Offender notification period of 5 years, and the Sexual Harm Prevention Order, the duration being until further order. The Panel had no information before it of the Registrant’s compliance with the requirements, nor outcomes from any such compliance, nor any other information about any other form of remediation from the Registrant. The Panel could not therefore determine, whether there were any changes to the level of risk that the Registrant posed.

19. In relation to the ‘public’ component, the Panel was of the view that the Registrant had breached a fundamental tenet of the profession and had brought the profession into disrepute. It considered that the Registrant had breached the standards 3 and 13 of the HCPC Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics.

• Standard 3 – you must keep high standards of personal conduct

• Standard 13 – you must behave with honesty and integrity and make sure your behaviour does not damage the public’s confidence in you or your profession

Although the indecent images had been found on the Registrant’s personal computer at home, the Panel was of the view that such behaviour of a registered Practitioner Psychologist, entrusted with the treatment of potentially vulnerable service users, would severely damage public confidence in both the Registrant himself, and the profession as a whole.

20. The Panel  also concluded that public confidence in the profession would be undermined if no finding of impairment were made.

21. Accordingly, the Panel determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired by reason of his conviction.

Decision on Sanction

22. Having concluded that the Registrant's current fitness to practise is impaired, the Panel went on to consider what would be the appropriate, proportionate and sufficient sanction, or other outcome in this case, in order to protect the public and also meet the public interest.

23. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. It had regard to the Indicative Sanctions Policy and considered the sanctions in ascending order of severity. The Panel was aware that the purpose of a sanction is not to be punitive but to protect members of the public and to safeguard the public interest, which includes upholding standards within the profession, together with maintaining public confidence in the profession and its regulatory process.

24. The Panel does not consider the options of taking no further action, or the sanction of a Caution Order to be appropriate or proportionate in the circumstances of this case. Neither option would provide the necessary levels of protection, nor would they reflect the seriousness of the convictions of the Registrant or meet the wider public interest.

25. The Panel does not consider this case to be suitable for mediation.

26. The Panel moved on to consider the imposition of a Conditions of Practice Order. The Panel was of the view that that the Registrant’s convictions do not relate to the Registrant’s clinical practice, but rather his offending behaviour. It concluded that it would not be possible to formulate workable conditions to address his offending behaviour. 

27. Furthermore, the Panel considers that the case is too serious for a Conditions of Practice Order. Conditions would not provide the necessary level of public protection nor meet the public interest in this case. The Panel was mindful of the fact that the Registrant was still subject to the Crown Court sentence, and took account of the observation in the Practice Note on Conviction and Caution Allegations, that: ‘As noted in Fleischmann, if a registrant has been convicted of a serious criminal offence and is still serving their sentence at the time the matter comes before a Panel, normally the Panel should not permit the registrant to resume their practice until that sentence has been satisfactorily completed’. Given the nature of this case and in light of the fact that the Registrant has not engaged with these regulatory proceedings, the Panel could see no reason for departing from that general principle in this case.

28. The Panel next considered a Suspension Order. The Panel noted that such an Order would protect the public in the short term, however, given the nature of the offending, and the volume of indecent images found on the Registrant’s computer, the Panel was of the view that the case was too serious to be dealt with by a Suspension Order.

29. In reaching this view, the Panel had regard to the transcript of the Crown Court sentencing hearing, which recorded  the conclusions of the probation officer in the pre-sentence report that had been prepared on the Registrant. It said ‘…the assessment of the probation service is that [the Registrant] poses a high risk of harm or high risk of offending and that is not confined to the suggestion he may re-offend in this way. There is a concern expressed by the author of the report that it is possible that what has been described as a contact offence could take place’. In the absence of any information as to the compliance with the on-going sentence, the Panel concluded that the risk to the public was too high to be met with a Suspension Order, nor would such an Order meet the wider public interest.

30. The Panel next considered a Striking Off Order. In all the circumstances, the Panel was of the view that the nature and gravity of the convictions were such that any lesser sanction would not provide the necessary level of public protection. It was also of the view that any lesser sanction would undermine public  confidence in the profession and the regulatory process. In the Panel’s view, the public needs to be reassured that when it consults a Practitioner Psychologist, it is able to fully trust in that professional, both from a clinical perspective and from the perspective of their personal conduct and integrity.

31. Whilst the Panel was mindful that the effect of an Order for Strike Off would prevent the Registrant from working as a registered Practitioner Psychologist, the Panel considered that this was the only appropriate and proportionate Order in this case, given the need to protect the public and to uphold the reputation of the profession and the HCPC as its regulator.

Order

Order: That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Dr Kampadi Okpa from the Register on the date this order comes into effect.

The order imposed today will apply from 26 May 2016 (the operative date).

Notes

The Panel makes an Interim Suspension Order under Article 31(2) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001, the same being necessary to protect members of the public and being otherwise in the public interest.  This order will expire: (if no appeal is made against the Panel’s decision and Order) upon the expiry of the period during which such an appeal could be made; (if an appeal is made against the Panel’s decision and Order) the final determination of that appeal, subject to a maximum period of 18 months.

 

 

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Dr Kampadi Okpa

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
28/04/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Struck off