Mr Adam Chamberlain
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The following Allegation was considered by a Panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee (CCC) at the substantive hearing on 11 November 2016:
1) You were convicted on indictment of “Possessing extreme pornographic images - act of intercourse/oral with a dead/alive animal”.
2) By reason of your conviction as set out a paragraph 1 your fitness to practise as a Biomedical Scientist is impaired.
At the substantive hearing the Panel found particular 1 of the Allegation proved and found the Registrant’s fitness to practise to be impaired. A Suspension Order for a period of 12 months was imposed as a sanction.
1. The Registrant attended the hearing by telephone.
2. At the commencement of the hearing, the lay panel member declared that she had previously been a member of the Parole Board and recently had been a Parole Commissioner for Northern Ireland. She had particular experience in the risk assessment of sex offenders and was familiar with reports on sex offenders. The Chair asked Ms Simpson, on behalf of the HCPC, and Registrant if they had comments or observations on this declaration. Both confirmed that they did not.
3. On 10 July 2013 a search warrant was executed by West Midlands Police at the Registrant’s address. Computer equipment was seized from this address and later examined. 80 videos containing acts of bestiality were discovered.
4. The Registrant consistently denied having downloaded these images until the day of his trial on 3 December 2015. On this date he pleaded guilty to the following offence:
Possession of extreme pornographic images portraying an act of intercourse/oral sex with a dead/alive animal contrary to Part V, Section 63 (7) Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.
5. On 4 February 2016 the Registrant was sentenced by Warwick Crown Court to a Community Order for three years to include a condition requiring the Registrant to participate in Community Sex Offender Groupwork. He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £60 and prosecution costs of £200.
6. The Panel had before it the hearing bundle, which included two “statements of case” from the Registrant, dated 31 October 2017 and 1 November 2018, as well as a reference from his current employer dated 4 December 2017, and a letter from a Treatment Manager in the National Probation Service outlining the Registrant’s progress on and completion of the Horizon Programme (“the Programme”) run by the Probation Service for sex offenders. The Panel also read an email exchange between the Registrant and the HCPC dated 22 and 25 October 2018. The Panel also had sight of a Structured Assessment of Risk and Need (Sexual Offending) (SARN) Report dated 24 October 2017 and a Basic DBS Certificate dated 26 April 2018.
7. Ms Simpson on behalf of the HCPC, outlined the history of the case and the earlier panel’s decisions on impairment and sanction. She submitted that the Registrant’s fitness to practise should still be considered impaired. She submitted that the Registrant had not shown sufficient insight nor had this developed since the last hearing. Ms Simpson therefore submitted that in light of the lack of insight demonstrated, despite 2 years of Suspension, the appropriate sanction is a Striking Off Order.
8. The Registrant gave evidence under affirmation. He told the Panel that the remainder of his Community Order had been revoked in March 2018 following an application by his probation officer. He did not attend court and was told of the result verbally by his probation officer. He stated that he was therefore no longer subject to the Community Order. He acknowledged that he had not obtained any written confirmation of this decision. However, he submitted that the DBS document he had provided, which recorded no convictions against his name, demonstrated that the Community Order had been rescinded. The Registrant also told the Panel that he had made progress. Having undergone the horizan programme pursuant to the Community Order he now understood why the offending happened, he had learned that it was a coping mechanism for stress, and he told the Panel what he had learned about other positive coping strategies he could use for stress as well as for living a more positive life.
Decision on Impairment:
9. The Panel took into account the HCPTS Practice Notes entitled “Review of Article 30 Sanction Orders” and “Finding that Fitness to Practise is ‘Impaired’”. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel was aware that its purpose today was to conduct a comprehensive review of the Registrant’s fitness to return to unrestricted practice. The Legal Assessor advised that the Panel must exercise its own independent judgement with regard to impairment and any sanction it may impose. The Legal Assessor reminded the Panel that it should take into account proportionality with regard to any sanction it may impose and should have regard to the HCPC’s Indicative Sanctions Policy. She reminded the Panel that, by way of applying proportionality, any sanction that it imposes must be the least restrictive order that would be necessary protect the public interest. The Legal Assessor referred to the case of CHRE v GDC and Fleischmann  EWHC 87.
10. The Panel first considered whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired.
11. The Panel carefully considered all the evidence and the submissions made by Ms Simpson and the Registrant.
12. The Panel was of the view that today’s Panel has more information before it than previous panels in the form of the SARN report which deals with the risk of reoffending presented by the Registrant. That assessment states that he presents a “medium” risk of sexual reconviction. However, the report also confirms that he completed the Horizon programme with a “positive” attitude and “engaged well” with other group members. The letter from the Registrant’s Treatment Manager also confirms his successful completion of the programme and attests to his positive engagement with it. The Panel was satisfied that in the light of the information contained in the SARN report the risk of repetition of the offending behaviour to which the conviction relates was not high.
13. The Panel considered the oral evidence of the Registrant that the remaining time left on his Community Order was revoked by the Court in March 2018 following an application by his probation officer. While the Panel noted that the possibility of such an application being made was referred to in the SARN report, there is no written evidence of the actual revocation of the Community Order, and the Panel was not persuaded, without documentary evidence, that this has occurred. The Panel did not accept that the DBS document provided by the Registrant was sufficient evidence that the community order sentence had been revoked or rescinded.
14. The Panel considered the Registrant’s oral evidence, and was of the view that he has limited insight into the impact of his offending upon the public’s confidence in him as a Biomedical Scientist and on the profession as a whole. When questioned about his view and understanding of this issue specifically by the Panel, while he referred to the fact that the public would be aware of his falling short of standards expected of him, his answers focused on the impact on him personally and his career. In addition, while he was able to give brief and limited reasons in respect of his offending and articulate what he had learned on the programme to assist him in avoiding repetition, the Panel was of the view that the minimal insight into the effect on the wider public interest was concerning and requires further reflection and a deeper understanding as a professional.
15. In addition, the Panel, being unpersuaded that the Registrant was not still serving the three year Community Order sentence imposed by the criminal court, due to the lack of documentary evidence to confirm this, took into account the case of Fleischman. The Panel was advised by the Legal Assessor that Fleischmann does not dictate that where a sentence remains to be served, such a situation inevitably compels a Panel to prevent a Registrant from returning to unrestricted practice. However, the Panel was of the view that in this case, there is a serious offence coupled with insufficient insight into the impact of the conviction on the wider public interest, and that these factors meant that a restriction on the right to practise remained appropriate.
16. Therefore the Panel decided that on the basis of the circumstances set out above, that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired on the basis of the wider public interest, and that the need to uphold proper professional standards and to maintain public confidence in the profession would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made. The Panel noted that previous findings of impairment had not been made on the basis of risk to the public presented by the Registrant as a registered professional, and the Panel had no evidence before it to consider differently.
Decision on sanction:
17. The Panel took into account HCPTS Practice Note “Conviction and Caution Allegations”. The Panel was mindful that the purpose of a sanction was not to punish the Registrant, but the purpose of any sanction should be to protect the wider public interest, which included maintaining the public’s trust in the profession and the regulatory process. The Panel recognised that it must act proportionately when imposing any sanction.
18. The Panel first considered whether taking no further action was appropriate, and decided that this would be inappropriate as it would not reflect the seriousness of the offending nor would it satisfy the need to uphold the wider public interest. The Panel considered a Caution Order and discounted it for the same reason.
19. The Panel next considered whether it could formulate workable, practical and measurable Conditions of Practice to protect the wider public interest. The Panel determined that no workable or relevant conditions could be devised because there is no evidence that there are identifiable areas of the Registrant’s practice which need to be addressed.
20. The Panel next considered Suspension. While the Registrant currently has limited insight into the wider impact of his offending, a Suspension Order is proportionate and appropriate in order to uphold the public interest.
21. The Panel did consider a Striking Off Order but was of the view that this would be disproportionate and punitive at this point in time, considering the progress which the Registrant has made under the Horizon programme and the positive steps made by him generally.
22. The Panel therefore decided that the only appropriate and proportionate sanction would be to extend the present Order of Suspension by a period of 6 months. The Panel was of the view that the period of 6 months was proportionate. It reflects the limitations in the Registrant’s insight but also the progress made to date and the potential for further progress. A six month suspension is sufficient to uphold the public interest.
23. In coming to this decision, the Panel considered the principle of proportionality, and was aware that the extension of Suspension would prevent the Registrant from earning an income from his profession However, the Panel decided that the need to protect the reputation of the profession and uphold proper standards outweighed the Registrant’s interests in this regard.
24. The 6 months Suspension Order will take effect on expiry of the current Order.
25. The Panel was of the view that a future reviewing Panel may be assisted by a piece of reflective writing from the Registrant dealing with the impact of his conviction on the reputation of the profession and public confidence in it.
26. The Registrant has the right to an early review if circumstances change, for example, should he secure evidence relating to the revocation of the Community Order sentence.
27. The case will be reviewed before the expiry of the extended Order of Suspension.
The Registrar is directed to suspend the registration of Mr Adam Chamberlain for a further period of 6 months on the expiry of the existing order.
No notes available