Mr Antony Kenneth Laws

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW26978

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 16/11/2018 End: 17:00 16/11/2018

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

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Voluntary Removal agreed

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Allegation

 

During the course of your employment as a Social Worker in the Youth Offenders Team at Nottinghamshire County Council, you:

 

1 Did not complete Risk Assessments, Court Documents and/or Review Reports in timely fashion, in that:

 

 

 

a. In relation to Service User 29, you were asked at a Risk Strategy Meeting on 24 June 2015 to amend the Core Assessment and Risk documents but did not present the completed amendments until 2 July 2015;

 

 

 

b. In relation to Service User 16, a Pre Sentence Report you were asked by the court to complete by 5 August 2015 was not made ready for signing off until 14 August 2015;

 

 

 

c. In relation to Service User 31, you completed your referral for reparation on 12 June 2015, outside the 10 day timescale set by the Initial Referral Panel on 18 May 2015;

 

 

 

d. In relation to Service User 30, a Pre Sentence Report was requested by the Court on 20 July 2015 for a hearing date 6 August 2015 but your competed report was not submitted until an adjourned hearing date of 26 August 2015.

 

 

 

2 Did not complete Risk Assessments and reports appropriately and/or did not complete Risk Assessments and reports at all, in that:

 

 

 

a. In relation to Service User 28, you did not provide risk review information for a Risk Strategy Meeting to be held on 8 June 2015;

 

 

 

b. In relation to Service User 33, your assessment was presented to your manager on 22 July 2015 for the Assessment Panel on 28 July 2015 but you had not interviewed Service User 33 and you had not obtained relevant information from the Police.

 

 

 

c. In relation to Service User 32, you did not record safety and well-being information for Service User 32, an adolescent, his adult girlfriend or her two children for eight weeks from the referral date.

 

 

 

3 You did not meet with your service users at appropriate intervals and/or did not record those meetings, in that:

 

 

 

a. In relation to Service User 31, the risk indication was for "intensive" contact (minimum x2 contacts per week) but you did not meet Service User 31 in three weeks;

 

 

 

b. Not proved

 

 

 

c. In relation to Service User 32, you did not record any meetings or contacts in an eight week period from the referral order date.

 

 

 

4 You did not act in response to non-compliance situations, in that:

 

 

 

a. In a case discussion meeting on 3 August 2015 you were instructed to take "Breach Action" against service user 29 in court if he failed to engage but you did not do so;

 

 

 

b. When Service User 30 re-offended and/or breached a Statutory Order, you were instructed to take "Breach Action" proceedings in Court on 28 July 2015 but you did not do so until the following week;

 

 

 

c. In relation to Service User 28, you did not reschedule the Risk Strategy Meeting review for eight weeks.

 

5. The matters set out in paragraphs 1-4 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.

 

 

6. By reason of your misconduct and/or lack of competence your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Service

1. The Panel found that there had been good service of the proceedings, in accordance with the HCPC (Conduct and Competence Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003 (the Rules) by notices dated 18 October 2018 and 9 November 2018.

Proceeding in the absence of the Registrant

2. The Panel next considered whether to proceed with the hearing in the absence of the Registrant, in accordance with rule 11 of the Rules. The Panel was advised by the Legal Assessor to consider the guidance in the HCPC Practice Note entitled “Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant” and followed that advice.

3. The Registrant did not appear nor was he represented. He did not attend the final hearing from 30 October 2017 to 3 November 2017 or the review hearing on 26 April 2018. The Registrant has confirmed by email dated 13 November 2018, that he is aware of the purpose of the hearing today and has waived his right to attend. It is therefore in the public interest and the Registrant’s interest to proceed with the hearing in his absence. An adjournment would be unlikely to secure the Registrant’s attendance on a future date and he has requested that his name is removed from the HCPC Register.

Background

4. The Registrant was employed as a Social Worker by Nottinghamshire County Council (the Council) from 24 October 2009. In 2013, he was moved into a Youth Offending Team as Band B Youth Justice Service Senior Case Manager. He worked with young people aged from 10 to 18, who had been dealt with by the criminal courts or were at risk of offending and most of his work involved statutory interventions. After the5

Registrant moved into the Youth Offending Team, concerns were highlighted by his line manager, who then managed him through a capability process. The Registrant resigned from his employment with the Council on 11 September 2015 and the matter was referred to the HCPC by the Council.

5. At the substantive hearing in 2017, the panel found a systemic failure by the Registrant to comply with deadlines and record-keeping, despite the support provided during the capability process. The panel concluded that the Registrant’s lack of competence was, in theory, capable of remediation, but the Registrant had provided no evidence of remediation or current insight. He had not expressed remorse for his actions, despite adverse consequences for service users. Nor had he taken responsibility for his actions or shown awareness of the impact of his failings.

6. The Registrant admitted that his record-keeping had been, at times, lacking, but did not seem to understand the importance of this, which was of concern to the panel, particularly in the context of safeguarding. There was insufficient evidence to reassure the panel that there would be no repetition of the Registrant’s behaviour. A return to practice by the Registrant would present a risk to service users and the Registrant had brought the profession into disrepute, through the delivery of services that did not meet the standard that the public had the right to expect.

7. There was reputational damage from the Registrant’s failure to comply with court deadlines and to keep adequate records. The panel found the Registrant’s fitness to practise to be impaired on the grounds of both public protection and the wider public interest. The Panel determined that the appropriate sanction was a Suspension Order for 6 months as the case was too serious for any lesser order.

8. Prior to the first review on 26 April 2018, the Registrant requested a voluntary removal from the HCPC Register but that request was not put before the reviewing panel by the HCPC. By the time of that review of the Suspension Order the Registrant had not practised since 11 September 2015. The reviewing panel found his fitness to practise was still impaired and concluded that an extension of the Suspension Order for a period of 6 months was necessary and proportionate, to ensure public protection and maintain confidence in the profession.

9. An HCPC Registrant, who wishes to cease practice but who is then subject to outstanding proceedings in relation to his fitness to practise, may enter into a Voluntary Removal Agreement (VRA) with the HCPC. In this case a VRA dated 8 November 2018 has been signed by both parties.

Submissions

10. The HCPC submits a VRA is a proportionate and pragmatic way to dispose of the case in the public interest. The Registrant does not wish to continue to practise as a Social Worker and should be allowed to remove himself from the HCPC Register. This is not a case in which a further review hearing is required to maintain public confidence in the regulatory process or the profession. The Registrant has no intention of returning to work as a Social Worker.

11. The Legal Assessor advised that although the 2001 Order does not explicitly provide for consent arrangements an HCPTS Practice Note on “Disposal of Cases by Consent” advises that:…neither the HCPC nor a Panel should agree to resolve a case by consent unless they are satisfied that:

• the appropriate level of public protection is being secured; and

• doing so would not be detrimental to the wider public interest…

In cases where the HCPC is satisfied that it would be adequately protecting the public if the registrant was permitted to resign from the Register, it may enter into a VRA allowing the registrant to do so, but on similar terms to those which would apply if the registrant had been struck off.

Decision

12. Removing the Registrant from the Register will prevent him from practising as a Social Worker and in the Panel’s judgement this action will secure public protection. The concerns raised solely relate to a lack of competence but a considerable amount of support was provided to the Registrant without any improvement in his practice being achieved. There are no allegations of misconduct.

13. The Panel is satisfied that voluntary removal is consistent with the protection of the public; taking into account that the Registrant will be removed from the HCPC Register in the same way as if a Striking Off Order had been made against him. The Panel therefore consents to the HCPC discontinuing the above proceedings against the Registrant by means of a VRA because it is appropriate to do so. He will be removed from the HCPC Register as if a Striking Off Order had been made against him under Article 29 of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001.

14. The Registrant has admitted the Allegation in the VRA agreement and the necessary degree of public protection has been secured by the VRA taking into account that the Registrant could not be struck off today as he has not been suspended for two years. The matters giving rise to these proceedings relate to lack of competence not misconduct by the Registrant. The public interest does not require the matter to progress to a further review and the HCPC has taken appropriate action already to uphold public confidence in the profession and the regulatory process.

15. Accordingly there are no wider public interest issues arising from this case and, as such, disposing of this matter by consent would not be detrimental to the wider public interest. The Panel is satisfied that the VRA is an appropriate and expeditious way of dealing with this matter. There is no public interest in proceeding to a further review hearing and the VRA secures the necessary degree of public protection and avoids the unnecessary expense and inconvenience of a further hearing given the expressed wish of the Registrant it is also in his own interests. The Panel therefore revokes the Suspension Order from the date that the VRA takes effect.

Order

ORDER: The Registrar is directed to revoke the current Suspension Order and to remove the name of Mr Antony Kenneth Lawso House from the Register with immediate effect.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Antony Kenneth Laws

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
16/11/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Voluntary Removal agreed
26/04/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
30/10/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended