Miss Robinha Kamya Guweddeko

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW07664

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 09:00 30/05/2018 End: 11:30 30/05/2018

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

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Struck off

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Allegation

During the course of your employment as a Social Worker with Somerset County Council, you;

 

1) On 23 October 2014, at West Hampshire Magistrates’ Court were convicted of:

a) dishonestly failed to promptly notify the Department for Work and Pensions in the prescribed manner of a change of circumstances which you knew would affect your entitlement to income support benefit;

 

b) dishonestly failed to promptly notify a local authority, namely Southampton City Council in the prescribed manner of a change of circumstance which you knew would affect your entitlement to Council Tax benefit;

 

2) In or around November 2014, did not declare the convictions outlined at paragraphs 1a and 1b, when you renewed your registration with the HCPC;

 

3) Not proved.

 

4) Not proved.

 

5) By reason of your convictions…your fitness to practise is impaired

 

Finding

Preliminary matters:

Service

1.The Panel is satisfied on the basis of the documentation which it has been shown, that the Registrant has been served with notice of today’s hearing in accordance with the Rules.   The Panel has seen a letter dated 30 April 2018 which was sent by first class post to the Registrant at her registered address and also by e-mail on the same date; this letter gave notice of today's review hearing.  
Proceeding in the absence of the Registrant

2.The Panel considered whether to proceed in the Registrant’s absence.  The Panel has decided that it is in the interests of justice to proceed in the absence of the Registrant.   In reaching this decision, the Panel is mindful that it should exercise utmost care before doing so.  It has taken note of the matters set out in the HCPTS Practice Note on Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant and has also received and accepted legal advice. 

3.The Panel noted that the Registrant attended the last review hearing via telephone on 4 January 2018. The determination of that panel, which was sent to the Registrant at her registered address, and by email on 9 January 2018, made it clear that this Panel may be assisted by her attendance either in person or by telephone.  The Panel also noted that in the Notice letter of 30 April 2018, the Registrant was specifically informed that if she could not attend in person, she should contact the HCPTS to discuss the options for attending via alternative means.   There has been no contact from the Registrant in response to that letter. 

4.The Panel was informed by Ms Wills for the HCPC that she had tried to call the Registrant on 29 May 2018 on the number which was used to contact her at the last review hearing, but her call had not been answered.   She had not left any message.   Ms Wills also informed the Panel that the HCPC bundle for the last review hearing which had been sent to the Registrant’s registered address, had been returned.   No reason for the failed delivery had been given on the envelope.   The Panel took the view that it is clear the onus is on the Registrant to ensure that the Register is updated with any new address.  

5.The letter of 30 April 2018 also makes it clear that the hearing might proceed in her absence provided proper notice of the hearing has been proved and so the Panel is satisfied that the Registrant is aware of this.   The Panel is satisfied that the Registrant is fully aware that she could attend today’s hearing either in person or via telephone, has not sought to do so and so has voluntarily waived her right to attend.

6.The Panel noted that the Registrant has not sought an adjournment and is satisfied that any adjournment is unlikely to result in her future attendance.   The Panel also takes the view that there is a clear public interest in notified hearings being heard expeditiously and at the allotted time.  
 
Background:

7. On 23 October 2014, the Registrant was convicted of two counts of dishonesty; failing to notify the relevant authorities of a change in circumstances which affected her entitlement to income support benefit and council tax benefit.   The total amount of benefit claim for which she was prosecuted amounted to £7,000.   At a further hearing, the Registrant was sentenced to 80 hours of community service and fined £145.

8. The Registrant referred herself to the HCPC on 19 November 2014.  On 6 June 2016, at the substantive hearing, the Registrant’s fitness to practise was found to be impaired on grounds of her criminal convictions. The panel imposed a 12-month Suspension Order and suggested that the reviewing panel may be assisted by the following:

• Evidence that you are repaying the £7,000.
• A reflective piece on the seriousness of your actions.
• References from persons of good standing in relation to voluntary or paid work.

9.Although the Registrant did not attend the first review hearing on 8 June 2017, she did provide that panel with written submissions, which included a reflective piece, in which she sought to address the matters set out in paragraph 8 above, as follows:

a) Evidence of repayment of £7,000: the Registrant did not produce any independent evidence, to show that she had been making repayment.   She stated that she had a debt repayment plan in place but was struggling to make the “minimal payments” due to financial hardship and indicated that it was going to take her a long time to repay the amount in full.

b) The Registrant stated that due to her convictions, she had found it very difficult to find any employment relevant to her profession, including voluntary work.   However, she had been working in a voluntary capacity for a Christian charity for two years and was involved in a variety of community services through that church.  

10.That panel decided that the Registrant’s reflective piece with regards to her convictions for dishonesty was limited and superficial, and that the Registrant had focussed on the impact of those convictions on her from a personal perspective.   She had failed to properly reflect on the impact of her dishonest behaviour on the Social Work profession and the public’s trust and confidence in that profession.   That panel found that the Registrant had given no explanation as to how she would behave differently in the future and provided no assurance that such serious behaviour would not be repeated.   This led the panel to conclude that since the Registrant had not demonstrated “meaningful” and “well developed” insight or that she had taken steps towards remedying her dishonest behaviour, the risk of repetition remained.   The panel also noted that there was no evidence that the Registrant had maintained her skills and knowledge during the time since she had last worked as a social worker which was in 2014.   

11.The panel also determined that public confidence in the Social Work profession would be undermined if there was no finding that impairment remained in circumstances where there was no evidence that a registrant had taken any steps to keep his or her skills and knowledge up to date, or provided sufficient evidence that lessons had been learned and appropriate steps taken to remedy previous conduct and behaviour.  

12.The panel decided, at that hearing, that the appropriate and proportionate order was a further Suspension Order for 6 months and set out various matters which it considered may assist a future reviewing panel, as follows:

• Attendance by the Registrant.

• Letter from Southampton City Council and/or the Department of Works and Pensions confirming amount the Registrant has repaid.

• A further reflective piece fully addressing the impact that the Registrant’s behaviour has had on the profession and public confidence in the profession.

• Up to date testimonials from people with knowledge of the voluntary or paid work the Registrant may have undertaken in the previous 6 months.

13. The case was due to be reviewed by the HCPTS on 4 December 2017 but was adjourned on that date following receipt by email on 1 December 2017 of two documents:  one was an undated reflective piece from the Registrant in which she referred to making a repayment to the court, and the other dated 30 November 2017, was an unsigned testimonial from Elly Kironde, Leading Pastor of Kingdom of Love Ministries.  In her undated letter, the Registrant had indicated that she was unable to travel to the HCPTS for the hearing due to ill health.  That panel decided to adjourn the review hearing as it considered that the Registrant had not been given the opportunity to appear by telephone at the hearing.  

14. The second review took place on 04 January 2018.   The Registrant attended the hearing via telephone link and told the panel that she had not been in work since her suspension and continued to find it difficult to obtain work due to her criminal record.   The panel was satisfied by what the Registrant told it that she had made progress since the previous review hearing.   She had shown proper remorse for her actions and had also demonstrated a genuine appreciation of the seriousness of what she had done and of its impact on the reputation of the Social Work profession.   This led the panel to conclude that the risk of repetition of the dishonest behaviour was low.  

15. The panel considered that there had not yet been sufficient documentary evidence of remediation showing that the Registrant had started to repay the amounts due and how much she had managed to repay.   The Registrant had told the panel that her financial situation was to be reassessed by the court, to determine the level of repayment.   The panel also noted that it was over three years since the Registrant had last worked as a Social Worker and had concerns that she had not taken any steps to maintain her knowledge.    The panel found that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired on both personal and public component grounds.  

16. The panel extended the Suspension Order for a further period of 6 months to give the Registrant an opportunity to obtain and provide evidence of remediation.   The panel recommended that the next reviewing panel may be assisted by:

• Attending the next review hearing (in person or by telephone);

• Producing independent documentary evidence of payments made to Southampton City Council and to the Department for Work and Pensions.   This could be by producing any correspondence with those authorities (regardless of date); any correspondence with the court (regardless of date); any independent schedule of payments made; any written agreement of payments, bank statements etc;

• Providing evidence of keeping her knowledge up to date, for example by reading relevant journals, social work publications, magazines, on-line social work blogs, policies, legislation or carrying out on-line research or undertaking any free on-line courses.

• Providing further up to date signed testimonials from persons with knowledge of the voluntary or paid work the Registrant may have undertaken in the previous 6 months.  

Decision: 

17. In reaching its decision, the Panel has considered the HCPTS Practice Note “Finding that Fitness to Practise is Impaired”.    It has had regard to the submissions of Ms Wills for the HCPC.  It has received and accepted legal advice.

18. The Panel has reviewed all the information before it.    This included the determinations of the previous hearings, and the undated reflective piece sent by the Registrant in an email to the HCPC dated 1 December 2017 and the unsigned testimonial from Pastor Elly Kironde (Leading Pastor of Kingdom of Love Ministries) dated 30 November 2017.   These two documents had been before the last reviewing panel. 

19. The Panel noted that despite being asked on previous occasions to provide independent documentary evidence to show that she has started to repay the amounts due to the Department for Work and Pensions and Southampton City Council, the Registrant has failed to do so.   

20. The previous reviewing panel had made it clear that such information was required to show that the Registrant had taken steps to remedy her convictions.   In failing to do this, the Panel considers that the Registrant has demonstrated a lack of willingness to provide evidence of remediation.

21. The Panel also noted that the Registrant, who has not worked as a Social Worker since 2014, and has not provided any information to show that she has taken any steps to maintain her knowledge.  

22. The Panel is satisfied that where a Registrant has not taken appropriate steps to remedy convictions which involved dishonest conduct, and has not kept his or her knowledge up to date, a reasonable and well informed member of the public would consider that a finding of impairment is required to uphold proper professional standards and to maintain confidence in the Social Work profession.  

23. The Panel has therefore decided that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired.

24. The Panel then considered what the appropriate and proportionate order was in this case and in doing so, it has taken note of the HCPC’s Indicative Sanctions Policy.    It has received and accepted legal advice.  

25. The Panel has considered its powers under Article 30 (1) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001 and the available sanctions in ascending order of seriousness.  It has in mind that the purpose of a sanction was not to punish the Registrant but to protect the public.    It has decided that to take no action in this case would not be appropriate or proportionate given that the convictions involved dishonest behaviour.      

26. The Panel next considered a Caution Order and concluded that this was not appropriate in this case.   Although the Panel considers the risk of repetition of the dishonest behaviour is now low, the amounts involved in the convictions could not be described as either relatively minor, or at the lower end of the scale.    

27. The Panel is satisfied that a Conditions of Practice Order is not appropriate in this case.   Whilst the concerns in this case did not involve practice deficiencies and arose outside the work domain, the Registrant has not worked as a Social Worker now since 2014.  The Panel has no information as to the Registrant’s current employment position or her readiness to comply with such an order, as evidenced by her lack of engagement since the last review hearing and  her failure to respond fully to the recommendations of previous panel, there were no conditions which it could devise which would be appropriate, workable and measurable.

28. The Panel next considered a Suspension Order.  The Panel noted that the Registrant has been given a number of opportunities to remedy the behaviour that led to her convictions and demonstrate that she has kept her knowledge up to date, but has failed to take these.   She was warned in an earlier review hearing of 4 January 2018 that the time may come when a reviewing panel would consider making a striking off order.   Even this has not prompted her into providing the information that has been requested.   Indeed, she has failed to engage at all since the last review hearing.  In these circumstances, the Panel can see no useful purpose in imposing a further period of suspension where there is no evidence that in the future, anything will change. 

29. The Panel has therefore concluded that the only appropriate and proportionate sanction in this case is to order that the Registrant’s name is struck off the Register.   In reaching this decision, the Panel took note of paragraph 48 of the Indicative Sanctions Policy which states:

“Striking off should be used where there is no other way to protect the public, for example, where there is a lack of insight, continuing problems or denial.   A registrant’s inability or unwillingness to resolve matters will suggest that a lower sanction may not be appropriate”.

30. The Panel decided that even though the matters that led to the convictions  this case could have been remedied by the Registrant, it would appear that her limited insight and unwillingness to resolve these, leave it with no choice but to strike her off the Register.  This sanction is also required to maintain public confidence in the Social Work profession and in its regulatory process which would be undermined if, having given the Registrant every opportunity to engage with the process and demonstrate her fitness to practise, it continued to offer further opportunities which, in the Panel’s judgment, are likely to be ignored. 

31. The Panel therefore concluded that the proportionate and appropriate sanction in this case is a striking off order.

32. The Registrant, should she wish to work again as a Social Worker, can apply to the HCPC for consideration for re-entry on to the Register after a period of 5 years from the date that this order takes effect.

Order

Order: The Registrar is directed to strike the name of Ms Robinah Kamya Guweddeko from the Register on the date that this order comes into effect.  

Notes

The order imposed today will apply from 4 July 2018.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Miss Robinha Kamya Guweddeko

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
30/05/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Struck off
04/01/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
04/12/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Adjourned
08/06/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended
06/06/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended