Mr Kasim Ali

Profession: Hearing aid dispenser

Registration Number: HAD03061

Interim Order: Imposed on 07 Nov 2017

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 03/05/2019 End: 17:00 03/05/2019

Location: Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service, 405 Kennington Road

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Struck off

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Allegation

While registered with the Health and Care Professions Council as a Hearing Aid Dispenser:

1. On 9 August 2018, at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court, you were convicted of:

a) Attempting to incite a child under the age of 13 to engage in non-penetrative sexual activity;

b) Attempting to engage in sexual activity in the presence of a child under the age of 13.

2. By reason of your convictions, as set out at particular 1, your fitness to practise as a Hearing Aid Dispenser is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Service

1. There was before the Panel a signed certificate that the Notice of Hearing, dated 28 March 2019, was sent on that date by first class post to the Registrant’s address as shown on the HCPC Register. The Notice of Hearing confirmed the date, time and venue of the hearing.

2. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and was satisfied that Notice had been properly served in accordance with applicable Rules.

Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant

3. Mr Lee Bridges, on behalf of the HCPC, applied for the hearing to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. Mr Bridges said that the Registrant had telephoned Messrs. Kingsley Napley on 16 April 2019, and said that he would not be attending the hearing but that he would be sending written representations. Mr Bridges said that the Registrant’s documents before the Panel are those representations. Mr Bridges submitted that in the circumstances, there are no compelling reasons why the hearing should be adjourned.

4. The Panel considered Mr Bridges’ submissions. It had in mind the HCPTS Practice Note “Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant”. It accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

5. In reaching its decision, the Panel had in mind that the discretion to proceed in absence is one which should be exercised with the utmost care and caution. It was satisfied that the Registrant was aware of today’s hearing and had not applied for an adjournment. The Panel concluded that the Registrant had waived his right to attend and that it was unlikely that, if the matter were adjourned, he would attend on a future date. In all the circumstances, the public interest in the expeditious disposal of this case outweighed any prejudice to the Registrant. The Panel therefore decided to proceed with the hearing despite the absence of the Registrant.


Background

6. The Registrant was employed as a Hearing Aid Dispenser for North Manchester General Hospital. On 23 September 2017, the Registrant commenced an online chat with a person who purported to be a 12 year old child. This person was in fact a decoy working with a group called Silent Justice, who operate accounts on a number of social media sites posing as children aged between 11 and 14 years.

7. Having commenced an online conversation, the Registrant and the online individual exchanged telephone numbers and continued their conversation using WhatsApp. During the conversation, the messages sent by the Registrant were of a sexual nature and included photographs of himself in bed. The Registrant requested a picture from the purported child in return and sent a number of explicit messages in which he asked her to perform various sexual acts.

8. On 24 September 2017, the Registrant was arrested. On 9 August 2018, he appeared at Minshull Crown Court where he entered pleas of guilty to the two counts on the indictment of 1) attempting to incite a child under the age of 13 to engage in non-penetrative sexual activity; and 2) attempting to engage in sexual activity in the presence of a child under the age of 13.

9. On 28 August 2018, he was sentenced on each count to a three year community order, and orders that he be placed on the barring list by the Disclosure and Barring Service, and that he must participate in Sex Offenders Treatment Programme 144 Group Session. Further that he be subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for a period of five years.

10. Mr Bridges submitted, that by virtue of the Memorandum of Conviction the Panel should find the facts of the Allegation and statutory ground proved. He further submitted that the Registrant’s criminal actions had breached Standard 9 of the HCPC “Standards of conduct performance and ethics” which state “You must make sure that your conduct justifies the public’s trust and confidence in you and your profession.”

11. Mr Bridges referred to the sentencing remarks made by the Crown Court Judge, in which he observed that the Registrant was 23 years old at the time of the offending and had no previous criminal record. The Judge accepted that the Registrant was remorseful and that his offending was wholly out of character. However, the Judge made it clear that had the ‘decoy’ actually been a child, an immediate custodial sentence would have been inevitable, regardless of any personal mitigation. Mr Bridges submitted that this highlighted the seriousness of the matter.

12. Mr Bridges concluded that the public would be surprised and would lose confidence in the profession were the criminal actions of the Registrant not marked by a finding of impairment.


Decision on Facts and Grounds

13. In reaching its decision the Panel considered the evidence before it which was the Memorandum of Conviction dated 14 September 2018. It considered also, the submissions of Mr Bridges and the written observations of the Registrant.

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

15. The Panel was satisfied that this was a true memorandum and therefore found the conviction proved. The Panel found the conviction to establish the statutory ground.


Decision on Impairment

16. In reaching its decision the Panel considered all the information before it. This included the Crown Court Judge’s sentencing remarks. The Panel had regard also to Mr Bridges’ submissions and to the Registrant’s written observations in the documents submitted to the HCPC. The Panel has reached its own decision after comprehensively considering the case. It had in mind the HCPTS Practice Note “Finding that Fitness to Practise is “Impaired””. It accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

17. The Panel considered that these were extremely serious offences. As a result of which, the Registrant was in breach of Standard 9 of the HCPC “Standards of conduct performance and ethics” which state “You must make sure that your conduct justifies the public’s trust and confidence in you and your profession.” Whilst the Registrant has provided some testimonials, in his own reflective statement he was largely concerned with the effects his offending and conviction had had on himself and his family. There was no consideration of the impact of his actions on others. There was also no evidence from the Registrant of any remediation in relation to the underlying tendencies which led to his offending. The Panel therefore cannot be satisfied that such conduct would not be repeated. On this basis, the Panel concluded that the Registrant’s current fitness to practise is impaired in relation to the personal component.

18. The Panel further considered the public element. It concluded that right thinking members of the public would be concerned if a finding of impairment were not made where a Registrant has been convicted of serious sexual offences of this nature and where sentences such as these have been imposed.

19. A finding of impairment is therefore necessary for the protection of the public and is also in the public interest in order to declare and uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour, and to maintain confidence in the profession and the regulatory process.


Decision on Sanction 

20. In reaching its decision the Panel considered all the information before it, including the Registrant’s written representations, together with the submissions of Mr Bridges and its own findings on impairment. It had regard to the HCPC “Indicative Sanctions Policy”. It accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

21. Mr Bridges said that the HCPC was neutral in relation to sanction. However he referred the Panel to the HCPC “Indicative Sanctions Policy” and emphasised that the purpose of a sanction is not to punish the Registrant but to protect the public, although a sanction may have a punitive effect.

22. The Panel found these to be the following aggravating factors:

• The extremely serious nature of the offences as marked by the sentences imposed;

• The lack of significant insight into the serious nature of the offences. The Registrant’s written observations refer to the effect his convictions have had on himself and his family, rather than what it could have had upon a child had he not been dealing with a decoy;

• The lack of any remedial steps taken by the Registrant.

23. The Panel found these to be the following mitigating factors:

• There have been no previous findings against the Registrant, either before the HCPC or the criminal courts;

• The Registrant’s plea of guilty at the Crown Court;

• The Registrant’s remorse, referred to in the Judge’s sentencing remarks.

24. The Panel first considered whether to take no action but the nature of these criminal offences demands a sanction.

25. The Panel then considered mediation or a Caution Order. However, the serious nature of the offences is such that neither would be sufficient to protect the public nor to address the public interest concerns.

26. The Panel next considered a Conditions of Practice Order but determined that there are no conditions that would be workable, appropriate or sufficient in the light of the serious nature of the convictions.

27. The Panel then considered a Suspension Order but again such an order would be insufficient to address the serious nature of these convictions.

28. The Panel therefore considered a Striking Off Order. It was aware that this is a sanction of last resort for serious acts involving abuse of trust such as sexual abuse. It referred to the HCPC “Indicative Sanctions Policy” where it states such an order should be used where there is no other way to protect the public in circumstances where there is a lack of insight and where the nature and gravity of the convictions are such that any lesser sanction would lack deterrent effect or undermine confidence in the profession or regulatory process. The Panel had well in mind, that the Registrant believed that he was in contact with a female child aged 12 years, but had no understanding of the harm that could have occurred to a child had he in fact not been dealing with a decoy. In these circumstances, it concluded that the only sufficient and appropriate sanction is that of a Striking Off Order.

Order

The Registrar is directed to strike the name of Mr Kasim Ali from the Register on the date this Order comes into effect.

Notes

Interim Order 

1. Mr Bridges applied for an Interim Order on the grounds of the public interest and for the protection of the public, for the maximum period of 18 months to cover the 28 day appeal period and the time that might be required to conclude any appeal

2. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and took into account the HCPTS Practice Note “Interim Orders” and paragraphs 51-54 of the HCPC “Indicative Sanctions Policy”.

3. The Panel was satisfied that given its findings that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired and that there is a risk of repetition of the Registrant’s conduct, the public would be concerned if the Registrant were allowed to practise unrestricted until the Substantive Order comes into effect. It therefore determined that an Interim Order was necessary for the protection of the public and was otherwise in the public interest.

4. It determined that there were no workable or appropriate conditions which would be sufficient to protect the public. It therefore concluded that an Interim Suspension Order was the appropriate order in order to protect the public and to maintain public confidence in the profession and regulatory process. The Panel decided that the Interim Order should be for a period of 18 months.

5. The Panel makes an Interim Suspension Order under Article 31(2) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001, the same being necessary to protect members of the public and being otherwise in the public interest. 

6. This Order will expire: (if no appeal is made against the Panel’s decision and Substantive Order) upon the expiry of the period during which such an appeal could be made; (if an appeal is made against the Panel’s decision and Substantive Order) the final determination of that appeal, subject to a maximum period of 18 months.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Kasim Ali

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
03/05/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Struck off