Mr Colin Henry Hill

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW27373

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 09:00 28/06/2018 End: 11:30 28/06/2018

Location: Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service (HCPTS), 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Suspended

Please note that the decision can take up to 5 working days to be uploaded onto the HCPTS website. Please contact one of our Hearings Team Managers via tsteam@hcpts-uk.org or +44 (0)808 164 3084 if you require any further information.

 

Allegation

During the course of your employment as a Social Worker at Birmingham City Council.

1. On 2 February 2015, you used racist language towards Person A, in that you stated Person A was a ‘house nigger’ or words to that effect.

2. The matters set out in paragraph 1 constitute misconduct

3. By reason of your misconduct, your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Service

1. The Panel was aware that notice of these proceedings was posted by first class post to the Registrant at his registered address on 29 May 2018. Notice was also served by email. The Panel was shown documents which established both the fact of service and the identity of the Registrant’s registered address and of his email address. In these circumstances the Panel accepted that proper service of the notice had been effected in accordance with the rules.


Proceeding in Absence

2. Ms. Senior informed the Panel that the Registrant had not engaged with the HCPC at any stage since the previous review and that there has been no application for an adjournment. Indeed, the Registrant did not attend the substantive hearing but had provided some written representations in relation to his reflections on his conduct. Furthermore, by email dated 12 June 2018 he was reminded of the hearing date and that he was entitled to attend and make written submissions. Ms. Senior submitted that the Panel should proceed with the hearing in the absence of the Registrant.

3. In reaching its decision, the Panel considered all the information provided, together with the submissions of Ms. Senior. It has accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

4. The Panel has found that the Registrant has voluntarily absented himself. He has not engaged with the HCPC since the substantive hearing on 12 January 2018. He has not applied for an adjournment. Furthermore, there is nothing to indicate that if this hearing were to be adjourned, the Registrant would attend on any subsequent occasion. This is a mandatory review and the Panel has concluded that it is in the public interest that it should be heard without delay; it is satisfied that no injustice will arise to the Registrant if the matter were to proceed in his absence. The Panel has therefore determined that the hearing should proceed despite the absence of the Registrant.

Background

5. The Registrant was employed as a Youth Offending Case Manager in the Youth Offending Service at Birmingham City Council. The Registrant transferred to the Youth Offending Service - Intensive Surveillance and Supervision Team (ISS) in or around the end 2014/ beginning 2015. On or around 26 January 2015 Person A returned from a period of sickness absence and became the Registrant’s line manager. The allegation is that on 2 February 2015 the Registrant made a racist remark towards Person A. On the same day Person A sent an e-mail to two service managers in which he set out the alleged remark and details of the incident.

6. An investigation was carried out into the alleged racist comment, which included an interview with Person A by GS on 10 March 2015 and an interview with the Registrant on 7 April 2015.

7. At the substantive hearing, the original Panel determined that the matters found proved amounted to misconduct and that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired.

8. In regard to sanction, that Panel imposed a Conditions of Practice Order for a period of 6 months to enable the Registrant to take appropriate steps sufficient to address the public interest. The principal requirement was that the Registrant should produce a reflective account addressing:

“ • the potential effect of your actions on the recipient of a targeted racist remark.
 • how your behaviour could affect the public perception of the social work profession, including the effect on service users.
 • how you breached the principles of Dignity at Work and what steps you would take to avoid a recurrence.”
 
9. The original Panel indicated that at any review the Panel will be assisted by the Registrant’s attendance and by information about his current employment status.

Decision

Impairment

10. The Panel has determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired.

11. In reaching its decision, the Panel considered all the information before it together with the submissions from Ms. Senior. It accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. No further information has been received from the Registrant since the substantive hearing. In particular, he has not provided the required reflective piece and is therefore in breach of the Conditions of Practice Order. The Panel has no information in regard to the Registrant’s current employment, if any, nor indeed whether he has taken any steps to remedy the misconduct found proved. Furthermore, there is nothing to indicate that he has maintained his professional knowledge and skills.

12. The Panel considered the public component in the light of the above. A member of the public would be concerned if the Registrant were to practise unrestricted.

13. In the absence of any evidence of remediation, and in particular, the breach of condition 3, the Panel has concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired.

Sanction

14. The Panel has regard to the HCPC Indicative Sanction Policy. It has approached the question of sanctions from the least restrictive upwards. It has exercised the principle of proportionality at all times. It has accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

15. The Panel first considered whether to revoke the existing Order or allow it to lapse. In the absence of any further information from the Registrant, this would be wholly inappropriate and insufficient to protect the public or the public interest. Furthermore, for the same reasons and in the light of the serious nature of the misconduct, a Caution Order would also be insufficient. The Panel next considered a further Conditions of Practice Order. However, the Registrant has failed to produce evidence that he has taken any steps to remedy his misconduct. Indeed, he is in breach of the Conditions of Practice Order. He has not engaged with the HCPC in regard to this review. The Panel has therefore concluded that a further Conditions of Practice Order would be inappropriate. 

16. The Panel determined that the only appropriate and sufficient sanction is a Suspension Order for a period of 6 months. This would give the Registrant a further opportunity to reflect fully upon his misconduct.

17. The Panel did consider a Striking Off Order but concluded that this would be disproportionate in the light of the fact that this was an isolated incident, capable of remediation, and that there have been no previous incidents of this nature. Person A’s evidence at the substantive hearing was that the Registrant’s conduct on this occasion was out of character.

18. At any future review, the reviewing Panel would doubtless be assisted by the Registrant’s attendance in person or by telephone, by information about his current employment status and by the provision of a reflective piece addressing:

• the potential effect of your actions on the recipient of a targeted  racist remark.
• how your behaviour could affect the public perception of the social work profession, including the effect on service users.
• how you breached the principles of Dignity at Work and what steps you would take to avoid a recurrence.

19. At any future review, a panel may make any Order which it could have made at the original hearing, which would include a Striking Off Order.

Order

Order: The Registrar is directed to suspend the registration of Mr Colin Henry Hill for a further period of 6 months on the expiry of the existing order.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Colin Henry Hill

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
28/06/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
11/01/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Conditions of Practice