Ms Emma Prince

Profession: Paramedic

Registration Number: PA34092

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 20/12/2016 End: 17:00 20/12/2016

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

1. On 18 September 2015 at Manchester and Salford Magistrates' Court you were convicted of the following offences:

 

a) Assaulted Person A, a constable in the execution of her duty.

 

b) Assaulted Person B by beating

 

2. By reason of your convictions as set out at paragraph 1 your fitness to practise as a Paramedic is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary matters:
1. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had been properly served with notice of the hearing and that copies of the papers had been sent to her new registered address and by email. Ms David made an application for the hearing to proceed in the Registrant’s absence. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and applied the principles in the HCPC Practice Note on Proceeding in the Absence of a Registrant. The Registrant had not applied for an adjournment of today’s hearing or advanced any reasons why the hearing should be adjourned. The Panel is aware that a previously scheduled hearing was adjourned and that this was not at the request of the Registrant. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had voluntarily absented herself and had waived her right to attend. The Panel considered that the Registrant would be unlikely to attend at a future date if the hearing were to be adjourned and that no useful purpose would be served by an adjournment. It was in the public interest that the allegations be heard and determined without further delay. In all the circumstances, the Panel determined that the hearing should proceed in the absence of the Registrant.

Background:
2. The Registrant is registered with the HCPC as a Paramedic. She was employed in that capacity by North West Ambulance Service and was based at Salford Ambulance Station. She commenced employment on 19 December 2011.
3. On 14 February 2014 the Registrant was involved in an altercation in a pub in Salford in the course of which she assaulted the landlady. The Panel noted that this was outside of a work context.
4. Shortly after leaving the pub the Registrant was apprehended by police officers. The Registrant was abusive and aggressive towards the police officers, who attempted to restrain her. The Registrant struggled violently and kicked one of the police officers repeatedly on the shin.
5. The Registrant was duly charged with common assault on the landlady of the pub and with assaulting a police officer in the execution of her duty.
6. On 18 September 2015 the Registrant on her own plea of guilty was convicted by Manchester and Salford Magistrates Court of assaulting Person A, a constable, in the execution of her duty and assaulting Person B by beating. In respect of the former offence she was fined £90; in respect of the latter offence she was made subject to a Community Order; she was also ordered to pay compensation of £100, a victim surcharge of £60 and costs of £120.
Decision on Facts:
7. The Panel found the facts of the allegation proved by the certificate of conviction.
Decision on Impairment:
8. The Panel noted that the Registrant had not provided any response to the allegations, information about her current circumstances, either personal or work-related, nor had she produced any references or testimonials.
9. The Panel took into account the submissions of Ms David. The Panel applied the guidance contained in the HCPC Practice Notes on “Conviction and Caution Allegations” and “Finding that Fitness to Practise is Impaired”. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.
10. The Panel considered the nature, circumstances and gravity of the offences of which the Registrant was convicted. These involved assaults firstly on a member of the public and shortly afterwards on a police officer who was attempting to restrain the Registrant. The Registrant used abusive language and violent behaviour which were entirely inappropriate.
11. The Panel noted the Registrant’s convictions were in breach of standard 3 of the HCPC’s Standards of conduct, performance and ethics which states that  “You must keep high standards of personal conduct” and standard 13 which states that  “You must ….. make sure that your behaviour does not damage the public’s confidence in you or your profession”.
12. In determining whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired, the Panel took into account both the ‘personal’ component and public component. The personal component relates to the Registrant’s own practice as a Paramedic, including any evidence of insight and remorse. The ‘public’ component includes the need to protect service users, declare and uphold proper standards of behaviour and maintain public confidence in the profession and the regulator.
13. The Panel could find no evidence of remorse or insight on the part of the Registrant. In an email to the HCPC dated 5 August 2015 the Registrant wrote: “Admitting guilt to police assault when you don’t believe you are guilty has been a very difficult decision”. The Panel also noted that the Registrant changed her plea to one of “Guilty” at a very late stage, having previously indicated that she would plead “Not Guilty”.
14. The Panel also considered that the Registrant’s conduct had negative implications for public safety. Whilst the circumstances of the offences did not take place in the course of her employment as a Paramedic, the Panel considered that the Registrant’s loss of control and her failure to show respect for the position and authority of police officers raised questions about her suitability as a Paramedic. In this role she would often be required to exercise self-control in stressful emergency situations and to work in cooperation with, and on occasions under the direction of, police officers.
15. When deciding whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired, the Panel also took into account the responsibility of the HCPC to uphold proper standards of conduct on the part of members of the profession and to maintain public confidence in the profession.  The Panel had no doubt that the Registrant’s convictions for assault brought her and her profession into disrepute. Public confidence in the profession and in the regulator would be undermined if the Panel did not make a finding of impairment.
16. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Registrant’s fitness to practise as a Paramedic is impaired by reason of her convictions.

Decision on Sanction:
17. The Panel took into account the submissions of Ms David. The Registrant provided no information or material by way of mitigation.
18. The Panel took into account the HCPC’s Indicative Sanctions Policy and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel was mindful that the purpose of a sanction is not to punish the Registrant but to protect the public and the wider public interest of upholding proper standards and maintaining the reputation of the profession. The Panel applied the principle of proportionality, balancing the interests of the Registrant with those of the public, and considered the available sanctions in ascending order.
19. The aggravating factors in this case are that:
• The Registrant has shown no remorse for, or insight into, the behaviour which led to her convictions and how it might affect her status as a Paramedic. Indeed, by her email to the HCPC dated 5 August 2015 she denied responsibility for her actions and asserted that that she had pleaded guilty as a matter of convenience
• The Registrant has not engaged with the HCPC in relation to this hearing.
• The level of physical violence and verbal abuse involved in the incident
• The fact that the incident involved an assault on a police officer who was carrying out her duties. Paramedics and the police service often work collaboratively in stressful situations and paramedics need to show an appropriate level of collaboration and respect
20. The two mitigating factors of which the Panel is aware are that the incidents for which the Registrant was convicted were not work-related and occurred on the same day.
21. The Panel considered that the offences of which the Registrant was convicted were far too serious for it take no further action or to impose a caution.
22. A Conditions of Practice Order would not be appropriate or relevant because the convictions were not work-related.
23. The Panel considered whether to impose a Suspension Order. The offences of which the Registrant was convicted were not necessarily so serious as to be incompatible with her remaining on the register. However, given the Registrant’s lack of remorse, denial of responsibility and absence of insight, and her failure to engage in these proceedings, the Panel considered that there was a significant risk of repetition, which would have adverse implications both for public protection and the reputation to the profession.
24. The Registrant by her actions in assaulting a member of the public and assaulting a police officer in the execution of her duty, compounded by her total absence of insight or remorse, had shown herself to be unfit to be a member of her profession. The Registrant has had a number of wake up calls which have been spread over a significant period of time. Firstly the incidents themselves, secondly her employers response to those incidents, thirdly the court case and conviction and fourthly the actions of the HCPC. The Panel has no evidence before it that she has taken advantage of these wake up calls. In all the circumstances, the only appropriate sanction is a Striking Off Order.

Order

That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Emma Prince from the Register on the date this order comes into effect.

Notes

The registrant has appealed this decision to the High Court.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Ms Emma Prince

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
20/12/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Struck off