Mrs Shanta Kaur Mangat

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW54535

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 10/06/2019 End: 17:00 14/06/2019

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

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: No further action

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Allegation

Whilst registered as a Social Worker, on dates between 05 June 2014 and
22 July 2014:

1) You did not complete and/or record an adequate Special Guardianship
Assessment in respect of Person A, in that you:

a) Did not adequately assess and/or record an assessment of factors relevant to Person A's
suitability to care for Child A, including Person A's:

i. care history;

ii. previous experience of caring for children;

iii. historical episodes of domestic abuse;

iv: capacity to manage an additional child in her home;

v. employment circumstances;

vi: relationship with her ex-husband;

viii: plans regarding Child A's contact with her birth family.

b) Did not obtain and/or consult the Social Care records of Person A and/or her children.

c) In relation to the personal references required for the assessment, did not:

i. Ensure that the content of the references was adequate.

ii. Obtain a sufficient number of references.

d) Did not obtain Person A's medical report and/or make adequate enquires about Person
A's medical assessment before completing the
Special Guardianship Assessment.

e) Did not obtain Person A's Disclosure and Barring Service checks and/or ensure that you
were aware of the outcome of these checks before completing the Special Guardianship
Assessment.

2) Your actions described in particular 1 amount to misconduct and/or lack of competence.

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

Finding

Preliminary Matter:

Application to Offer No Evidence / Amend Particulars

1.At the outset of the hearing, Mr Walters applied to remove Particular 1 a) viii [sic] in its entirety on the basis that the evidence available to the Panel did not support this sub-particular and that there would be no unfairness if it was withdrawn. Mr Walters also applied to amend Particular 1 b) by removing the words “and/or her children”, on the basis that the evidence available to the Panel did not support this sub-particular.


2.Ms Long did not oppose the application.


3.The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.


4.The Panel was satisfied that the proposed amendments would more accurately reflect the case against the Registrant, would not prejudice the Registrant or the Public Interest, and would be both fair and appropriate. The Panel allowed the application.

Background

5.At the time of the allegations, the Registrant was engaged as an Independent Social Worker undertaking work through Minster Social Work Ltd (the Company). VV was the Director of the Company. On 5 June 2014, the Company was commissioned by Birmingham City Council (the Council) to complete a Special Guardianship Assessment (SGA) of an individual, Person A, with a view to determining her suitability to become the Special Guardian of Child A.


6.On an unknown date, the task of completing the SGA was assigned to the Registrant. The SGA was submitted to the Council on 22 July 2014. It is alleged that the Registrant did not adequately complete the SGA or sufficiently identify the concerns surrounding Person A’s suitability to care for Child A.


7.On 27 January 2015, Person A was granted Special Guardianship for Child A. On 5 September 2015, Child A died. A post mortem revealed over 150 injuries to her body that had been sustained over a number of months.


8.In 2016, Person A was convicted of Child A’s murder and received a sentence of life imprisonment.


9.On 22 February 2017, a Serious Case Review (SCR) into Child A’s death was published. This was authored by RW, a retired Senior Police Detective. RW relied on the findings set out within an Agency report dated 29 February 2016 and authored by CB, an Independent Social Worker at the Council.


10.It is no part of the HCPC’s case that the death of Child A was caused by any act or omission of the Registrant.

Decision on Facts

11.At the outset of the hearing, the Registrant formally admitted each of the allegations of fact. The Panel was not bound by those admissions. In considering each of those Particulars, the Panel applied the principles that the burden of proving the facts is on the HCPC, that the Registrant is not required to prove anything and that any fact alleged is only to be found proved if the Panel is satisfied on the balance of probabilities that it is correct.


12.In reaching its decisions, the Panel had careful regard to all the evidence put before it and to the submissions of Mr Walters on behalf of the HCPC, and Ms Long on behalf of the Registrant.


13.The Panel heard oral evidence from VV, Director of the Company; RW, author of the SCR into Child A’s death; and CB, Independent Social Worker at the Council.


14.Witness VV told the Panel that the Council had informed him that the Registrant had been nominated to complete the SGA in respect of Person A. He said that a period of 12-13 weeks was usually required for the production of an SGA, which is a huge undertaking, but that the Registrant had been required to produce this SGA in 6-7 weeks. He said he had been concerned by the poor quality of the SGA and that the Registrant had been uncomfortable with his criticisms of her assessment. The Panel found VV to be somewhat defensive, did not appear to volunteer relevant information, and considered that he did not give the appearance of being completely open or frank. There was some lack of clarity and some inconsistencies in his evidence. Where there was conflict between his evidence and that of the Registrant, the Panel prefers her evidence.


15.Witness CB told the Panel that between July 2011 and July 2018, she had worked as an Independent Social Worker. She said that she had evaluated the Registrant’s SGA report in respect of Person A as part of a management review she undertook into the decision-making by the Council in relation to Child A. The Panel found her to be a very convincing witness, highly experienced in this field, very familiar with and knowledgeable about the circumstances of the case, measured and thoughtful. She was of great assistance to the Panel.


16.Witness RW told the Panel that he had been commissioned to conduct the SCR into Child A’s death. He was critical of the Registrant’s SGA, saying it seemed very sparse and not as full as he had expected. The Panel found him to be a credible, open and considered witness. While he had experience in safeguarding and knowledge of  Special Guardianship Orders, much of his knowledge derived from others rather than his own direct experience.


17.The Panel also heard oral evidence from the Registrant. She accepted that her SGA had been deficient and that, at the time, she had not been sufficiently experienced to undertake such work. She told the Panel of her remorse for her failings and their impact on others, and of her reflections, remediation and confidence that her failings would not be repeated. The Panel found her to be a reliable, genuine and insightful witness who answered questions candidly and did her best to assist it. Where her evidence conflicted with that of VV, the Panel preferred the Registrant’s evidence.


18.The documentary evidence before the Panel included:

•Witness statements of VV, RW, CB and SP
•22.02.17 Serious Case Review of Child A
•February 2016 Agency report of Child A
•Schedule 4 Assessment re Person A
•20.07.14 Health & Safety Checklist Assessment of Person A
•Questionnaire for References regarding Person A
•22.07.14 SGO Assessment of Person A
•Correspondence relating to case
•05.06.14 Letter from VV to Registrant re SGO Assessment of Person A & Child A
•05.06.14 Letter to person A from SS re referral for Assessment as Carer of Child A
•08.06.14 Forwarded Emails between Registrant and VV re contact with Carers
•23.06. - 08.07.14 Emails between Registrant & SC re Person A
•08.07.14 Forwarded Emails between Registrant and SC re contact with Carers
•10-24.07.14 Emails between Registrant & VV re References and Report Quality
•14.07.14 Forwarded correspondence between Registrant & VV re Person A
•28.09.15 Letter to Person A from JB re decision of ICPC
•Records relating to Child A
•30.01.14 Child Protection Strategy Meeting re Neglect of Child A
•17.02.14 Section 47 Report to ICPC re Child A
•07.03.14 Minutes of Initial Child Protection Conference
•07.03.14 Child Protection Plan re neglect of Child A
•10.03.14 Social Workers Report to Review by SC
•11.03.14 Risk Assessments of Child A
•14.03.14. Care Plan for Child A
•19.03.14 & 09.04.14 Review Meeting Notes of Child A
•09.04.14 Recommendations and Action Plan for Child A
•10.04.14 Form CR-C Carer’s Report
•10.04.14. Initial Health Assessment of Child A
•16.06.14 Adoption & Foster Care Disclosure Approval Form
•Report for Formal Capability hearing by HN dated 21 February 2017
•Case Record Extract of Child A
•07.07.14 Review Meeting Notes of Child A
•07.07.14 Recommendations & Action Plan for Child A
•07.07.14 Social Workers Report to Review by MC
•Child Protection Conference Convening Checklist re Child A
•01.09.15 – 01.01.18 Child A Activities
•12.02.14 Declaration of Zero Criminal Convictions of Person A
•21.08.14 Birmingham City Council Adoption Forms
•Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015
•The Special Guardianship Regulations 2005
•Chronologies compiled by VV and CB
•04.02.16 and 08.03.16 Panel Meeting Minutes
•Undated statement from the Registrant responding to each of the factual allegations
•Registrant’s Training Log + 4 Certificates
•3 References in respect of the Registrant


19.The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

Particular 1 a) i. – Admitted and Found Proved

[Whilst registered as a Social Worker, on dates between 05 June 2014 and 22 July 2014:]

You did not complete and/or record an adequate Special Guardianship Assessment in respect of Person A, in that you did not adequately assess and/or record an assessment of factors relevant to Person A’s suitability to care for Child A, including Person A’s care history;

20.RW told the Panel: “In order to complete a SGA, a care history of the prospective guardian is required. A care history includes the medical history and background of the prospective carer…it is very important to identify whether there are any…concerns regarding the prospective guardian’s mental health, historical and current substance misuse, and any history of domestic abuse…It is also important to identify whether there are any adverse childhood experiences in the history of the prospective guardian which could affect him or her as a parent or carer.” RW told the Panel that the SGA had not recorded such a care history and was therefore inadequate.


21.CB told the Panel that the Registrant’s SGA in relation to Person A had been inadequate and did not show evidence of the detail of information or depths of analysis required when assessing someone as a potential Special Guardian for a child. Further, she told the Panel that “records relating to Person A’s period in care as a child were held by another local authority and there is no record of [the Registrant] seeking to access these beyond an initial enquiry with the social worker for Child A at the Council.”


22.The Panel had careful regard to the Registrant’s SGA in respect of Person A. It noted that at the outset of the hearing, the Registrant had admitted this sub-particular, and that in her written statement to the Panel she had stated:

“I accept that I should have explored Person A’s care history, her relationship with her birth family and her separation from her husband in more depth and used my professional curiosity. I accept that I should have taken more steps and/or escalated my concerns in the challenges of receiving the DBS checks and should not have made any recommendations without these checks being received.”

23.For all the reasons set out above, the Panel accepted the Registrant’s admission and found this sub-particular proved.

Particular 1 a) ii. – Admitted and Found Proved

[Whilst registered as a Social Worker, on dates between 05 June 2014 and 22 July 2014:]

You did not complete and/or record an adequate Special Guardianship Assessment in respect of Person A, in that you did not adequately assess and/or record an assessment of factors relevant to Person A’s suitability to care for Child A, including Person A’s previous experience of caring for children;

24.RW told the Panel: “There was no information in the SGA to suggest that Person A had any previous experience of caring for children, other than for her own. This was something that should definitely have been explored further by [the Registrant].”


25.CB told the Panel that the Registrant’s SGA had contained information relating to Person A’s care of her own four children. However, this had been inadequate in its exploration of the difficulties Person A had experienced as a  when she was a teenager in foster care and as a single parent caring for her four children. Further, CB stated: “Another issue I would have expected to have been discussed was the impact on the children of the separation between Person A and her husband and how they were supported in this…The overall impression in the report is that the information provided by Person A was accepted at face value by [the Registrant] and opportunities to explore this in depth and test it were missed.”


26.The Panel had careful regard to the Registrant’s SGA in respect of Person A. It noted that at the outset of the hearing, the Registrant had admitted this sub-particular, and that in her written statement to the Panel she had stated:

“I accept this allegation fully. I did not provide any examples while exploring Person A’s Parenting Capacity…On reflection, I do feel I was too naïve to have accepted Person A’s views about her experience as a parent and did not cross reference this when undertaking interview with Person A’s sister and husband.”

27.For all the reasons set out above, the Panel accepted the Registrant’s admission and found this sub-particular proved.

Particular 1 a) iii. – Admitted and Found Proved

[Whilst registered as a Social Worker, on dates between 05 June 2014 and 22 July 2014:]

You did not complete and/or record an adequate Special Guardianship Assessment in respect of Person A, in that you did not adequately assess and/or record an assessment of factors relevant to Person A’s suitability to care for Child A, including Person A’s historical episodes of domestic abuse;

28.RW told the Panel: “Assessing whether a prospective Special Guardian has a history of domestic abuse is an important part of conducting a SGA; without this factor being considered, it cannot be said that a SGA has been completed properly.” RW informed the Panel that “Person A had previously reported domestic abuse at the hands of a former partner to the police in 2009…This information would have come up in the soft intelligence DBS check…No information in relation to Person A’s domestic abuse history was recorded on the SGA.”


29.CB told the Panel that “Relevant information was, in fact, on records held by the Council…The police referred the matter to the Council’s Children’s Services…This information was not related in either the Schedule 4 assessment or the SGA…Undertaking checks on previous records is the responsibility of Council Staff while completing the Schedule 4 assessment. I would not have expected [the Registrant] to carry out further checks into this information and it would have been reasonable for her to assume that the necessary checks had been completed and the results communicated to her. I would, however, expect an SG assessor to have a detailed discussion with an applicant about any significant previous relationships…In this SGA there is no evidence that such a discussion took place.”


30.The Panel had careful regard to the Registrant’s SGA in respect of Person A. It noted that at the outset of the hearing, the Registrant had admitted this sub-particular, and that in her written statement to the Panel she had stated:

“I accept this allegation. Although the responsibility of DBS lies with the council social worker; as an independent social worker, I had responsibility to ensure I had relevant information before making any recommendations…It is my understanding that the report should not have been filed in absence of DBS checks. I do accept that I should have explored domestic abuse with older child’s father in more detail and the impact it had on her older child…I do acknowledge that the report was incomplete in absence of DBS checks and I should have made it very clear in my report and not made any recommendations.”

31.For all the reasons set out above, the Panel accepted the Registrant’s admission and found this sub-particular proved.
Particular 1 a) iv. – Admitted and Found Proved

[Whilst registered as a Social Worker, on dates between 05 June 2014 and 22 July 2014:]

You did not complete and/or record an adequate Special Guardianship Assessment in respect of Person A, in that you did not adequately assess and/or record an assessment of factors relevant to Person A’s suitability to care for Child A, including Person A’s capacity to manage an additional child in her home;

32.RW told the Panel: “There were several issues in relation to Person A’s capacity to parent Child A which were not addressed within the SGA. No assessments were carried out as part of the SGA to explore how Person A would cope in her house with all of her children…In assessing Person A’s capability as a prospective carer for Child A, it also appears that [the Registrant] accepted statements made by Person A about her and her suitability, despite the fact that these statements were poorly supported by specific and detailed examples of how she had cared for her children…Further, the level of optimism shown by [the Registrant] in assessing Person A’s parenting style based on one visit is concerning. Observations from one visit do not carry enough of an assessment of Person A and cannot be said to be fully evidence based.” 


33.CB told the Panel that “[the Registrant’s] SGA report was very positive about Person A and lacked evidence that Person A’s capacity to provide appropriate care for Child A had been properly assessed in detail…”


34.The Panel had careful regard to the Registrant’s SGA in respect of Person A. It noted that at the outset of the hearing, the Registrant had admitted this sub-particular, and that in her written statement to the Panel she had stated:

“I do accept that the risk assessment could have been more thorough…Person A lived in a four-bedroom house and although the space was an issue, it was not an immediate requirement given the age of Child A however, I should have further explored (looking forward) as to the impact this would have as the child developed and grew older. On reflection, I was too naive to accept and assume that older child would move out of the family home when he turned 18. I should have considered the challenges Person A would face with demands of additional child and her coping mechanisms and explored this fully.”

35.For all the reasons set out above, the Panel accepted the Registrant’s admission and found this sub-particular proved.

Particular 1 a) v. – Admitted and Found Proved

[Whilst registered as a Social Worker, on dates between 05 June 2014 and 22 July 2014:]

You did not complete and/or record an adequate Special Guardianship Assessment in respect of Person A, in that you did not adequately assess and/or record an assessment of factors relevant to Person A’s suitability to care for Child A, including Person A’s employment circumstances;

36.RW told the Panel: “It is concerning that Person A was a student at the time at which she became Child A’s Special Guardian, in terms of the sufficiency of her finances to provide care for Child A. This is not something that was addressed within the SGA despite the fact that it ought to have been.” 


37.Witness CB told the Panel that “The SGA report specifically requires information on the employment history of the applicant…she had had 5 jobs over the course of 16 years, but the reason for changing jobs is not stated…there were also two periods when Person A was out of work for at least a year…I could not find evidence in the SGA report that [the Registrant] had explored with Person A what she had valued about work or sought any explanation for the two long gaps in her employment history. All that has been recorded is a basic, factual statement of Person A’s previous employment, suggesting the enquiries lacked depth and professional curiosity.”


38.The Panel had careful regard to the Registrant’s SGA in respect of Person A. It noted that at the outset of the hearing, the Registrant had admitted this sub-particular, and that in her written statement to the Panel she had stated:

“I did not explore Person A’s previous employment and any gaps in her employment. I took Person A on face value and accepted that she would be self-employed after completing her university course. I should have explored more and made appropriate challenges of managing a toddler and business from home. I did not explore what business opportunities were there for her and how she would be supported to care for an additional child if she had no business opportunities. This would have enabled me to establish her motivation to care for Child A.”

39.For all the reasons set out above, the Panel accepted the Registrant’s admission and found this sub-particular proved.

Particular 1 a) vi. – Admitted and Found Proved

[Whilst registered as a Social Worker, on dates between 05 June 2014 and 22 July 2014:]

You did not complete and/or record an adequate Special Guardianship Assessment in respect of Person A, in that you did not adequately assess and/or record an assessment of factors relevant to Person A’s suitability to care for Child A, including Person A’s relationship with her ex-husband.

40.CB told the Panel that “The account of the relationship between Person A and Person B in the report was largely in the present. Historical information about their relationship should have been detailed in the report…I would…expect an SG assessor to have a detailed discussion with an applicant about any significant previous relationships…In this SGA there is no evidence that such a discussion took place ”


41.The Panel had careful regard to the Registrant’s SGA in respect of Person A. It noted that at the outset of the hearing, the Registrant had admitted this sub-particular, and that in her written statement to the Panel she had stated:

“I accept that I did not explore Person A’s relationship with Person B when they lived together. I recall Person A telling me about falling out of love with Person B, but I did not record and reflect this within my assessment. It would have been useful to ask more relevant questions about any other relationships and how they manage their cordial relationship. This would have opened more room for further discussions about her coping strategies and how she regulates her emotions in difficult situations. I should have taken steps to have more discussion with Person A’s ex-husband to validate what Person A had said.”

42.For all the reasons set out above, the Panel accepted the Registrant’s admission and found this sub-particular proved.

Particular 1 b) – Admitted and Found Proved

[Whilst registered as a Social Worker, on dates between 05 June 2014 and 22 July 2014:]

You did not complete and/or record an adequate Special Guardianship Assessment in respect of Person A, in that you:

Did not obtain and/or consult the Social Care records of Person A.

43.RW told the Panel that “Person A had a history of being in care…This is a matter which was not referred to within the SGA but was one that ought to have been looked into prior to signing it off as complete. Information pertaining to Person A’s care records had been requested from Sandwell Council prior to the completion of the SGA. However, the care records…were only received after the SGA had been completed and signed off. The SGA should not have been signed off or completed without these important records. The SGA also made no reference to the fact that there was any outstanding information or requests for information. The concerns and possible ramifications of completing a SGA without checking the care records of a prospective Special Guardian are huge…The fact that the SGA was signed off as complete without any real knowledge of Person A’s history is very concerning. ”


44.The Panel had careful regard to the Registrant’s SGA in respect of Person A. It noted that at the outset of the hearing, the Registrant had admitted this sub-particular, and that in her written statement to the Panel she had stated:

“I assumed that the Person A had no social care history in Birmingham. However, Sandwell social care records were requested from the Local Authority Social Worker who initially communicated but did not respond to any of my calls or emails thereafter…I should have taken steps to ensure this was clearly recorded in my assessment and written to the court that in absence of these checks I was not able to make any recommendations…The Special Guardianship Procedures indicate that the Local Authority need to undertake Social Care checks prior to conducting a viability assessment…In hindsight, I should have recorded in my assessment that these checks were outstanding…I should have challenged appropriately and raised with the agency and the local Authority.”

45.For all the reasons set out above, the Panel accepted the Registrant’s admission and found this sub-particular proved.

Particular 1 c). i. – Admitted and Found Proved

[Whilst registered as a Social Worker, on dates between 05 June 2014 and 22 July 2014:]

You did not complete and/or record an adequate Special Guardianship Assessment in respect of Person A, in that you:

In relation to the personal references required for the assessment, did not:

Ensure that the content of the references was adequate.

46.Witness CB told the Panel that “Applicants nominate their own personal referees…applicants will select people they regard as friends and whom they expect to speak positively about them…For this very reason there must be a cautionary note about references, so it is essential to carefully evaluate the information given and seek examples or evidence to support comments made by referees…One referee was Person A’s sister…there were glaring spelling and grammatical errors in the reference as presented with the SGA report so it came across as having been…written without clarification or correction by [the Registrant]. This leads me to query how much…was actually discussed with person A’s sister and…how much was just accepted by [the Registrant] rather than being a springboard for more detailed discussion. The other reference was from Person D…(a former employer)[The Registrant] should have interrogated the information provided by Person D to evaluate the basis on which he was drawing his conclusions and the reliability of the reference overall…There is no evidence within the SGA report, however that [the Registrant] did this. .”

47.The Panel had careful regard to the Registrant’s SGA in respect of Person A. It noted that at the outset of the hearing, the Registrant had admitted this sub-particular, and that in her written statement to the Panel she had stated:

“I should have done more exploration, planned better in terms of who needed to be spoken to and what information was required around practical support and how relatives, extended family were going to offer support…I should have challenged and made sense of the ex-employer’s reference…but I did not request examples of interaction and the first and last times she was seen interacting with children.”

48.For all the reasons set out above, the Panel accepted the Registrant’s admission and found this sub-particular proved.

Particular 1 c). ii. – Admitted and Found Proved

[Whilst registered as a Social Worker, on dates between 05 June 2014 and 22 July 2014:]

You did not complete and/or record an adequate Special Guardianship Assessment in respect of Person A, in that you:

In relation to the personal references required for the assessment, did not:

Obtain a sufficient number of references.

49.VV told the Panel that when he reviewed the report on 22 July 2014, he noticed that there were references missing. He said he emailed the Registrant the following day to chase, and on 24 July she emailed him to say that Person A’s school references and her tutor’s reference were still outstanding. VV stated “I did not ever receive or have sight of the references which were missing.”


50.CB told the Panel that “three personal references are a necessary element of an SGA report…In respect of Person A, the SGA report only includes two personal references. According to the SGA report [the Registrant] spoke with another person on the telephone, but this person was only identified by name.”


51.The Panel had careful regard to the Registrant’s SGA in respect of Person A. It noted that at the outset of the hearing, the Registrant had admitted this sub-particular, and that in her written statement to the Panel she had stated:

“I did not follow the guidelines. I was aware that I needed three references, two from relatives and one from a non-relative. Person A did not provide any references…It was VV’s view that I needed to make it clear in my report that Person A had not provided more references…and I should put in my report that, ‘references will to follow.’...I admit that the SGA report did not meet the minimum standards required. ”

52.For all the reasons set out above, the Panel accepted the Registrant’s admission and found this sub-particular proved.

Particular 1 d) – Admitted and Found Proved

[Whilst registered as a Social Worker, on dates between 05 June 2014 and 22 July 2014:]

You did not complete and/or record an adequate Special Guardianship Assessment in respect of Person A, in that you:

Did not obtain Person A’s medical report and/or make adequate enquiries about Person A’s medical assessment before completing the Special Guardianship Assessment.

53.Witness RW told the Panel that “The completion of a SGA requires that a medical report is provided by a doctor in relation to the prospective Special Guardian. Person A completed her part of the medical form on 13 June 2014 and within it, she identified that she had previously suffered from depression…Person A also refused to disclose her sexual health issues and issues relating to pregnancies. These concerns were not addressed within the SGA that was subsequently completed and there is no evidence that they were followed up on at all… It was the responsibility of the SGA Assessor to have followed up on and addressed the concerns flagged by Person A’s medical history... Mental health records need to be worked through before a SGA can be signed off. At the time [the Registrant] signed off the SGA, however, the health records had not been followed up on. ”


54.The Panel had careful regard to the Registrant’s SGA in respect of Person A. It noted that at the outset of the hearing, the Registrant had admitted this sub-particular, and that in her written statement to the Panel she had stated:

“I do accept that I should have recorded clearly in my report that medical reports were outstanding…I do accept that I should have explored more and verified with Person D about Person A’s emotional wellbeing.”

55.For all the reasons set out above, the Panel accepted the Registrant’s admission and found this sub-particular proved.

Particular 1 e) – Admitted and Found Proved. No adverse inference drawn in respect of not obtaining DBS checks.

[Whilst registered as a Social Worker, on dates between 05 June 2014 and 22 July 2014:]

You did not complete and/or record an adequate Special Guardianship Assessment in respect of Person A, in that you:

Did not obtain Person A’s Disclosure and Barring Service checks and/or ensure that you were aware of the outcome of these checks before completing the Special Guardianship Assessment.

56.CB told the Panel that, through no fault of the Registrant, the outcome of the DBS checks had not been available to her when she signed off the report. However “there is the question of whether she should have been content to sign of the SGA report as complete without first receiving this information.”


57.RW told the Panel that Person A’s DBS check was “not received or considered before the SGA was signed off in July 2014. As such, Person A’s previous criminal history was not properly checked before she was deemed a suitable Special Guardian for Child A.”
58.The Panel had careful regard to the Registrant’s SGA in respect of Person A. It noted that the Registrant had admitted this sub-particular, but had correctly pointed out that it was not her responsibility to obtain the DBS checks. In her written statement to the Panel she had stated: “In hindsight, I did not make it clear in my report that these checks were outstanding and should not have made recommendations in absence of these checks.”


59.For all the reasons set out above, the Panel accepted the Registrant’s admission and found this sub-particular proved. However, in relation to not obtaining Person A’s DBS checks, the Panel found that while this was factually correct, no adverse inference should be drawn because obtaining the checks was the responsibility of the Local Authority and not the Special Guardianship Assessor.

Decision on grounds

60.Having made its findings on the facts, the Panel went on to consider whether the matters found proved constituted lack of competence and / or misconduct. The Panel had careful regard to the submissions of Mr Walters and Ms Long and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. It recognised that there was no burden of proof at this stage in the proceedings.


61.The Panel had careful regard to the guidance set out in the case of Calhaem v GMC that lack of competence connotes a standard of professional performance which is unacceptably low and which, save in exceptional circumstances, has been demonstrated by reference to a fair sample of the Registrant’s work. In this case, criticism is made of the Registrant’s work in respect of a single SGA in respect of a single applicant, carried out within a timeframe of 6-7 weeks. In the Panel’s judgment this does not constitute a fair sample of the Registrant’s work and therefore cannot be taken to amount to a lack of competence.


62.The Panel gave careful consideration to the guidance set out by Lord Clyde in the case of Roylance v GMC (No2) that:

“misconduct is a word of general effect, involving some act or omission which falls short of what would be proper in the circumstances. The standard of propriety may often be found by reference to the rules and standards ordinarily required to be followed by a …practitioner in the particular circumstances.”

63.The Panel noted Mr Walters’ submission that the Registrant had fallen well below the standards expected of a Registered Social Worker and had breached the HCPC’s ‘Standards of conduct, performance and ethics’. It bore in mind that not every breach of the Standards and not every falling short of what would be proper in the circumstances will constitute misconduct; the breach must be serious, or as Elias LJ put it in R (on the Application of Remedy UK Ltd) v GMC: “sufficiently serious.... that it can properly be described as misconduct going to fitness to practise.”


64.The Panel found that, by reason of the facts found proved, the Registrant was in clear breach of the HCPC ‘Standards of conduct, performance and ethics’, 2012 edition, as follows:   
                                                                                                       
1. You must act in the best interests of service users.
6. You must act within the limits of your knowledge, skills and experience and, if necessary, refer the matter to another practitioner 
7. You must communicate properly and effectively with service users and other practitioners.

65.The Panel concluded that the Registrant’s conduct fell well below what would have been proper in the circumstances. Her actions and omissions resulted in the production of a wholly inadequate SGA, which put a vulnerable child at unwarranted risk of severe harm because it did not properly assess the suitability of Person A to be a Special Guardian for Child A. The public rightly expects that Registered Social Workers will act in accordance with the standards set out by the profession and its regulator. The Registrant’s actions and omissions undermined public confidence in her employer, the Regulator and in the Social Work profession, and were so serious as to call into question her fitness to practise as a Registered Social Worker.


66.For the reasons set out above, the Panel had no doubt that the matters found proved constitute misconduct going to fitness to practise.

Decision on impairment

67.The Panel then went on to consider whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired by reason of her misconduct. It had careful regard to the submissions of Mr Walters and Ms Long and to the oral and written evidence produced by and on behalf of the Registrant.
68.The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and gave careful consideration to the HCPTS Practice Note on ‘Finding that Fitness to Practise is Impaired’.


69.In considering whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise had been impaired at the times in question, the Panel noted that her misconduct had breached fundamental tenets of the profession, brought the profession into disrepute and put a vulnerable child at unwarranted risk of harm. In the circumstances, the Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise had been impaired by reason of her misconduct.


70.In addressing the personal component of current impairment, the Panel asked itself whether the Registrant is liable, now and in the future, to repeat misconduct of the kind found proved. In reaching its decision, the Panel had particular regard to the issues of insight, remediation and history.


71.The Panel noted that in the case of CHRE v NMC & Grant Mrs Justice Cox stated:

“When considering whether or not fitness to practise is currently impaired, the level of insight shown by the practitioner is central to a proper determination of that issue.” 

72.The Registrant made formal admissions to all the factual allegations. The Panel had careful regard to her detailed written statement and to her oral evidence to the Panel. The Panel was satisfied that these demonstrated extensive reflection by the Registrant and a clear understanding of the seriousness of her failings and their impact on service users, her colleagues and employers, as well as on her profession and on public confidence in the profession.


73.The Panel heard that in the five years since she produced the SGA in issue, the Registrant has continued to work as a Registered Social Worker without further regulatory concern and to the satisfaction of her employers. The Registrant demonstrated to the Panel that she has used the time to develop a clear understanding of her failings, their cause, and the changes in her practice necessary to ensure that there will be no repetition.


74.The Registrant told the Panel: “I feel extremely remorseful about this case. It has affected me and my whole family. I have lived with this guilt for many years. It is not just about my job but also my own conscience.”


75.The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant has achieved a high level of insight into her failings.


76.The Panel had careful regard to Silber J’s guidance in Cohen v GMC that Panels should take account of:

•Whether the conduct which led to the charge is easily remediable;
•Whether it has been remedied; and
•Whether it is highly unlikely to be repeated.

77.The Panel heard that the Registrant now works as a Senior Practitioner in a frontline Assessment and Short-Term Intervention Team for Birmingham Children’s Trust. She told the Panel how she has developed her skills and confidence to the extent that she can be sure that her past failings would never be repeated. She told the Panel that if a court instructs her to complete an assessment within an inadequate time-frame she now informs the court that she is unable to do so. She said that she will not sign off on an assessment until she is satisfied that all appropriate avenues of enquiry have been properly covered.


78.The Panel gave careful consideration to the Registrant’s training certificates and the positive references and testimonials put before it. It had particular regard to a 13 May 2019 joint reference from the Registrant’s Head of Service and her Team Manager at Birmingham Children’s Trust which attests to the quality of her current performance as a Senior Practitioner and provides the reassurance that there are no concerns in regard to her practice. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant has remedied her failings and that they will not be repeated.


79.The Panel had careful regard to the Registrant’s history. It noted that she had never previously been brought before her regulator and that she has worked as a Registered Social Worker without restriction throughout the five years since the time in issue, and without further concern. She is now a Registered Social Worker of 9 years’ experience. At the time in issue, she had been a relatively inexperienced practitioner, tasked with completing her first ever SGA within an inappropriate timeframe. She had lacked understanding of all that was expected of her and had lacked the confidence to refuse to sign off on an incomplete assessment. The Panel considered that the Registrant’s failings had been restricted to a single SGA in respect of a single applicant and occurred over a period of 6-7 weeks in the context of what is now an otherwise unblemished career of 9 years. To that extent, the Panel accepted that the Registrant’s misconduct had been isolated, relatively short-lived, and had occurred 5 years ago.


80.The Panel had careful regard to its conclusions in relation to the Registrant’s insight, remediation, and history. It was confident that her misconduct will not be repeated. The Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is not impaired on the grounds of public protection.


81.The Panel then went on to consider whether a finding of impairment is required on public interest grounds alone. In addressing this component of impairment, the Panel had careful regard to the critically important public issues identified by Silber J in the case of Cohen when he said:

“Any approach to the issue of whether .... fitness to practise should be regarded as ‘impaired’ must take account of ‘the need to protect [service users], and the collective need to maintain confidence in the profession as well as declaring and upholding proper standards of conduct and behaviour.”

82.The Panel asked itself whether the need to uphold proper professional standards and public confidence in the profession would be undermined if a finding of impairment of fitness to practise was not made in the circumstances of this case. The Panel had no doubt that it would.


83.In the Panel’s view, it is essential that the public is able to have trust and confidence in Social Workers and their regulator. The Registrant produced a wholly inadequate Special Guardianship Assessment which put a vulnerable child at unwarranted risk of severe harm because it did not properly assess the suitability of Person A to be a Special Guardian for Child A. Inevitably, her misconduct undermined public confidence in the profession. At the time of Person A’s trial for the murder of Child A, public interest in the Registrant’s failings would have been intense. In the Panel’s judgment, while that public interest may have lessened in the intervening five years, it will still be significant. Further, informed members of the public, aware of the Panel’s finding that there is now no risk of repetition, would nevertheless expect the unacceptability of the Registrant’s misconduct to be formally marked in the public domain in order to declare and uphold proper professional standards and to maintain public confidence in the profession and its Regulator.


84.A finding of no current impairment would mean that the outcome of this hearing would not be published in the public domain. In the Panel’s judgment, it is essential that the public be informed of the outcome of this process; the maintenance of public confidence in the Social Work profession and the declaration of proper standards of conduct and performance demands it. For this reason, the Panel had no doubt that a finding of impairment on public interest grounds is necessary.


85.The Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired by reason of her misconduct and that the Allegation is well founded.

Decision on Sanction

86.The Panel next considered what, if any, sanction to impose on the Registrant’s registration.


87.The Panel had careful regard to all the evidence put before it, and also to the submissions of Mr Walters and Ms Long.

88.Mr Walters drew the Panel’s attention to the HCPC’s Indicative Sanctions Policy and submitted that the question of sanction is a matter for the Panel’s own independent judgment.


89.Ms Long submitted that, in light of the Panel’s findings in relation to insight, remediation, remorse and history, it would be appropriate to make no order. She said that any other outcome would be excessive and disproportionate.


90.The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and had careful regard to the HCPC’s Indicative Sanctions Policy.


91.In reaching its decision, the Panel had at the forefront of its thinking the principle of proportionality and the need to balance the interests of the Registrant with the wider public interest in maintaining confidence in the profession and the HCPC, and in declaring and upholding proper standards of conduct and performance.


92.The Panel had in mind that the purpose of sanctions is not to be punitive, though they may have a punitive effect. The Panel considered all the options open to it, starting with the least restrictive and working up the scale of restrictiveness.


93.In reaching its decision on sanction, the Panel had regard to all the circumstances, including the following mitigating and aggravating features of the case:

Mitigating

·The Registrant admitted the factual allegations and fully engaged with the regulatory process;
·The misconduct occurred in the setting of an otherwise unblemished career as a Registered Social Worker, during which time the Registrant had never been referred to her regulator;
·The Registrant has worked as a Registered Social Worker throughout the five years since the matters which brought her before her regulator, and there has been no further allegation of misconduct;
·The Registrant has demonstrated a high level of insight and remediation and the Panel has concluded that she is not liable to repeat her misconduct

Aggravating

·The Registrant’s misconduct put a vulnerable child at unwarranted risk of  severe harm because her SGA did not properly assess the suitability of Person A to be a Special Guardian for Child A.

94.The Panel first considered whether it would be appropriate to impose no sanction in this case. It gave careful consideration to Paragraph 8 of the Indicative Sanctions Policy. The Panel recognised that taking no action after a finding of impairment is likely to be an exceptional outcome, but may be appropriate in cases where impairment has been found on public interest grounds alone and where the Registrant has demonstrated insight and remediation.


95.This is a case where the Panel found that the Registrant had demonstrated a high level of insight and remediation, and concluded that there is no public protection issue. It nevertheless made a finding of impairment of fitness to practise on public interest grounds alone, because:

“A finding of no current impairment would mean that the outcome of this hearing would not be published in the public domain. In the Panel’s judgment, it is essential that the public be informed of the outcome of this process; the maintenance of public confidence in the Social Work profession and the declaration of proper standards of conduct and performance demands it. For this reason, the Panel had no doubt that a finding of impairment on public interest grounds is necessary.”

96.The Panel has concluded that the wider public interest in maintaining confidence in the profession and the HCPC, and in declaring and upholding proper standards of conduct and performance, has been achieved by its finding of impairment.


97.In these exceptional circumstances, the Panel was satisfied that no useful purpose would be served by imposing a sanction on the Registrant’s registration.


98.The Panel did consider imposing a Caution Order but, for the reasons set out above, concluded that such a course would be neither appropriate nor proportionate; the unacceptability of the Registrant’s misconduct would be sufficiently marked by its finding of impairment on public interest grounds.

Order

The Panel decided to take no further action.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mrs Shanta Kaur Mangat

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
10/06/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing No further action