Mrs Diane Constance Cleasby

: Social worker

: SW43650

: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 16/03/2017 End: 12:30 16/03/2017

: Health and Care Professions Council, 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Voluntary Removal agreed

Allegation

During the course of your employment as a Team Manager and as a registered Social Worker with Lancashire County Council;

1)    In January 2009 you put a Child, at risk of harm, in that you;

a)    did not initiate child protection procedures in a timely manner;
b)    did not challenge the core assessment, which had not addressed areas of concern;
c)    did not ensure the family support plan addressed the child’s safety.

2)    In March 2010 Lancashire County Council received a referral from a member of Family D to the effect that the police had removed computers from the family home on suspicion they contained child pornography, and you:

a)    gave incorrect advice to the Central Assessment and Referral Team (CART) following referral of the family to CART by police in October 2011.

3)    In or around June 2011, in respect of a Child, who had allegedly been sexually abused by a sibling, you:

a)    did not investigate the allegation;
b)    did not ensure a Section 47 Assessment was undertaken;
c)    did not ensure plans and/or strategies were in place to safeguard the child.

4)    Not Proved

5)    In August 2011 you put a child, who had been referred with a possible non accidental injury, at risk of harm in that you:

a)    did not seek legal advice to safeguard the child;
b)    Not proved
c)    did not initiate care proceedings.

6)    The matters described in paragraphs 1-5 amount to misconduct and/or lack of competence. 3

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

Finding

Preliminary issues:

Proof of service

1. The Panel found that there had been good service of the proceedings, in accordance with rule 3 of the Health and Care Professions Council (Conduct and Competence Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003 by notice dated 16 February 2017. The Registrant is aware of the hearing today, has not attended the hearing today, but has signed the Voluntary Removal Agreement (VRA).

Proceeding in absence

2. The Panel considered whether to proceed with the hearing in the absence of the Registrant. 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. It is in the public interest to proceed with the hearing. The Panel concluded that the Registrant is aware of the hearing today and has waived her right to attend.

Background

3. The Registrant is an HCPC registered Social Worker.

4. The Registrant was employed by Lancashire County Council (LCC) as a Social Worker within Children’s Services. Serious concerns were raised in 2012 in relation to specific child care cases. The Registrant had responsibility for supervising and managing a team of social workers, who would provide a frontline service in assessing children and families. She was suspended from her role in July 2012, following grave concerns in relation to her management of a number of cases. In January 2009 LCC Children’s Services received a referral regarding Child B. At the time Child B was an unborn child, with an older brother who had already been allocated a social worker, due to concerns in relation to the inability of the parents to care for him. A member of her team completed an Initial Assessment in February 2009. The outcome was that a Core Assessment was required and this was authorised by the Registrant in March 2009. The outcome of the Core Assessment was a family support package, which was authorised by the Registrant in April 2009. The Core Assessment was reviewed by a Senior Manager for Children’s Social Care because of concerns raised that this was not the appropriate outcome.

5. In March 2010 LCC Children’s Services received a referral in relation to Family D. Information was given by the mother of Family D that ‘‘the Police had visited the family home that day and removed her husband’s computers and various DVDs on suspicion that they contained child pornography’’. The referral was managed by the Registrant who gave incorrect advice.

6. In June 2011 the Police made a referral to LCC Children’s Services in relation to Child G about her disclosure to her mother than she had been sexually abused by her older brother. The case was managed by the Registrant. No Strategy Discussion was held nor any further investigations including a Section 47 Assessment or Core Assessment.

7. In August 2012 an internal investigation was commenced into failings in social work assessments and decision-making at LCC, which found that a number of children had been potentially left at significant risk of harm. A disciplinary hearing in relation to the Registrant was held on 23 January 2013 and she left LCC following a compromise agreement.

8. These matters were referred to the HCPC. At the substantive hearing, the Panel found that the matters found proved were extremely serious, putting service users at risk of harm. They were a clear breach of the standards expected of a Social Worker. That Panel found that the allegations proved amounted to misconduct and that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired. The Registrant was suspended for one year on 19 March 2015 and her suspension was extended for a further 12 months on 16 March 2016.

Decision

9. A HCPC Registrant who wishes to cease practice but has outstanding proceedings in relation to her fitness to practise, may enter into a VRA with the HCPC. In this case a VRA agreement has been signed by both parties, dated 16 March 2017.  The HCPC submits this is a proportionate and pragmatic way to dispose of this case in the public interest and the Registrant should be allowed to remove herself from the HCPC Register.

10. There is no reason that the public interest requires this case to proceed to a further review because the effect of the VRA is the same as striking off the name of the Registrant from the HCPC register. Therefore, the HCPC submits the public will be adequately protected if the Registrant is permitted to resign from the Register.

11. The Panel is satisfied that a 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 as a Striking Off Order had been made against her. The Panel therefore consents to the VRA because it is appropriate to do so. The Registrant will be removed from the HCPC register under Article 29 of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001.

Order

ORDER: The Registrar is directed to remove the name of Mrs Diane Constance Cleasby  from the Register with immediate effect.

Notes

If the Registrant seeks to return to the HCPC Register at any time the application would be treated as if the registrant had been struck off as a result of that allegation.

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Mrs Diane Constance Cleasby

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
16/03/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Voluntary Removal agreed
16/03/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended