Mr James Reid

: Social worker

: SW89100

: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 06/04/2017 End: 13:00 06/04/2017

: ETC Venues, Avonmouth House, 6 Avonmouth Street, London, SE1 6NX

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: No further action

Allegation

(as amended)

 

During your employment as a Social Worker in the London Borough of Enfield you:

 

1.     In relation to Service Users A you:

 

 a)     Did not consistently undertake and/or record statutory visits in accordance with London Borough of Enfield timescales between approximately 5 December 2013 and 20 March 2014;

 

b)     Did not maintain adequate records in that you did not record sufficient information of the home visit you undertook on 5 December 2013 of;

 

i.              the food that was available and / or;

 

ii.             the home environment.

 

c)     Did not attend a meeting with Person X, the Family & Systemic Psychotherapist, that was scheduled to take place on 28 January 2014;

 

d)     Did not complete the Case Conference report at least 5 working days before the Case Conference meeting of 29 April as required;

 

e)     Did not share the Case Conference report with the family in a timely manner in that you shared it with them on or around 28 April 2014.

 

2.     In relation to Service Users B you:

 

a)     Did not consistently undertake and/or record statutory visits in accordance with statutory and/or London Borough of Enfield timescales between approximately December 2013 and 8 May 2014;

 

b)     Did not inform the mother that the Core Group meeting scheduled for 10 March 2014 had been cancelled;

 

c)     Scheduled a Core Group Meeting for the 28 March 2014, but:

 

 i.              You did not attend the Core Group Meeting; and

 

ii.             You did not inform the parties that you could not attend the Core Group meeting.

 

d)     Did not ensure a Core Group meeting took place between approximately 10 February 2014 and May 2014;

 

e)     Recorded that you had seen a child of Service User B on 28 April 2014 when that was not the case;

 

3.     In relation to Service Users C you:

 

a)     Did not attend the Contact Centre on 10 April 2014 at the time arranged to supervise contact;

 

b)     Did not arrange for an interpreter to attend the contact session of 25 April 2014.

 

c)     Did not complete the Looked After Child review report for March 2014 in a timely manner;

 

d)     Incorrectly informed the Contact Centre that the reason you could not attend on 10 April 2014 at the time arranged was that you were completing an urgent task for Person Y, or words to that effect.

 

4.     In relation to Service User D, you did not maintain adequate records in that you undertook a home visit on or around 6 December 2013 and your recording of the visit was incomplete.

 

5.     In relation to Service User E you said that on 24 April 2014:

 

a)     You had visited Service User E when that was not the case; and

 

b)     You had put correspondence in the door of the home of Service User E when that was not the case.

 

6.     Your actions in paragraph 2e, 3d and 5 were dishonest.

 

7.     The matters described in paragraphs 1 – 4 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.

 

8.     The matters described in paragraphs 5 – 6 constitute misconduct.

 

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

Finding

Background

1. Mr Reid qualified as a Social Worker in 2012. He was employed in that capacity by the London Borough of Enfield (the Council) from the middle of 2012, until his employment was terminated by the Council in 2014.  For 12 months from September 2012, he was on an assisted and supported year in employment. During that first year, newly qualified Social Workers have a reduced caseload which after quarterly reviews became increasingly complex as the year progressed.

2. Concerns were identified by the Registrant’s employer about his record-keeping; failure to attend meetings; failure to make statutory visits in respect of children in care; making false records; and, otherwise acting dishonestly.


3. Those concerns were brought to the attention of the HCPC and at a Final Hearing held on 11-13 April 2016, the Registrant faced the following Allegation (as amended and found at the Final Hearing)

During your employment as a Social Worker in the London Borough of Enfield you:

1. In relation to Service Users A you:

a) Did not consistently undertake and/or record statutory visits in accordance with London Borough of Enfield timescales between approximately 5 December 2013 and 20 March 2014;

b)  Did not maintain adequate records in that you did not record sufficient  information of the home visit you undertook on 5 December 2013 of;

i. the food that was available and / or;
ii. the home environment.

c) Did not attend a meeting with Person X, the Family & Systemic Psychotherapist, that was scheduled to take place on 28 January 2014;

d) Did not complete the Case Conference report at least 5 working days before the Case Conference meeting of 29 April as required;

e) Did not share the Case Conference report with the family in a timely manner in that you shared it with them on or around 28 April 2014.

2. In relation to Service Users B you:

a) Did not consistently undertake and/or record statutory visits in accordance with statutory and/or London Borough of Enfield timescales between approximately December 2013 and 8 May 2014;

b) Did not inform the mother that the Core Group meeting scheduled for 10 March 2014 had been cancelled;

c) Scheduled a Core Group Meeting for the 28 March 2014, but:

i. You did not attend the Core Group Meeting; and
ii. You did not inform the parties that you could not attend the Core Group meeting.

d) Did not ensure a Core Group meeting took place between approximately 10 February 2014 and May 2014;

e) Recorded that you had seen a child of Service User B on 28 April 2014 when that was not the case;

3. In relation to Service Users C you:

a) Did not attend the Contact Centre on 10 April 2014 at the time arranged to supervise contact;

b) Did not arrange for an interpreter to attend the contact session of 25 April 2014.

c) Did not complete the Looked After Child review report for March 2014 in a timely manner;

d) Incorrectly informed the Contact Centre that the reason you could not attend on 10 April 2014 at the time arranged was that you were completing an urgent task for Person Y, or words to that effect.

4. In relation to Service User D, you did not maintain adequate records in that you undertook a home visit on or around 6 December 2013 and your recording of the visit was incomplete.
 
5. In relation to Service User E you said that on 24 April 2014:

a) You had visited Service User E when that was not the case; and

b) You had put correspondence in the door of the home of Service User E when that was not the case.

6. Your actions in paragraph 2e, 3d and 5 were dishonest.

7. The matters described in paragraphs 1 – 4 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.

8. The matters described in paragraphs 5 – 6 constitute misconduct.

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


4. The Registrant had admitted that his actions had been dishonest as alleged. All matters were found, except for limb 2(c)(ii).

5. At the fitness to practise stage, the Final Hearing Panel found that at the relevant times, the Registrant had the knowledge and skills required of a Social Worker, and so his failings did not arise from a lack of competence.

6. In respect of some of the matters found proven, the Panel considered that they were not sufficiently serious as to justify a finding of misconduct: these were 1(b), 1(c), 1(d), 1(e), 2(b), 2(c)(i) and 4. In relation to 1(b), the Final Hearing Panel found the records of other visits to this family were more comprehensive and this recording failure appeared to be an isolated incident. In relation to the remaining particulars the Final Hearing Panel found them to be poor practice, and considered that they amounted to serious misconduct.

7. The Final Hearing Panel considered that the matters identified in 1(a), 2(a), 2(d), 2(e), 3(a), 3(c) 3(d) and 5, (in full), were serious failings and each amounted to a serious breach of professional standards.

8. In relation to the Registrant’s then current fitness to practise, the Final Hearing Panel noted:

Since November 2014, Mr Reid has been working for a national charity as a Safeguarding Officer. He has given evidence about his reflection on his period of employment with the Council. To his significant credit he has in these proceedings accepted a number of failures. During his employment with the Council he was capable of producing good standard work. He is well regarded in his current employment.


However, the Panel is not persuaded that Mr Reid has yet developed full insight into his failings and the consequent risk of harm to children and young people; in particular, the risk to a child by not making a required visit, the seriousness of making false records and giving false accounts to colleagues and others and the importance of maintaining the reputation of the profession. The Panel is concerned Mr Reid has not fully remediated and reflected on the gravity of his actions and for this reason the Panel finds Mr Reid’s fitness to practise is currently impaired on the personal component.


A number of the failures on the part of Mr Reid were serious and dishonest. The confidence of the public would be seriously undermined if a finding of impairment were not made in this case where findings have been made of dishonesty against a social worker. The Panel would be failing to declare and uphold proper professional standards and to maintain confidence in the profession and in the regulatory process. The Panel therefore finds Mr Reid’s fitness to practise is also impaired on the public component.

9. At the sanction stage, the Final Hearing Panel identified relevant mitigating and aggravating factors, the latter including the fact that the Registrant had lied to his then employer and the potential for harm to vulnerable service users. The Final Hearing Panel concluded that a period of suspension was proportionate and appropriate, and would provide the Registrant with the opportunity to develop insight into his behaviour.

10. The Final Hearing Panel indicated that it might be helpful for the Registrant to provide a future reviewing Panel with the following:

• A reflective piece of writing, sent to the HCPC not less than 14 days before any such review hearing, in which the Registrant demonstrated an understanding of the underlying reasons for his behaviour; the impact of his behaviour on service users, colleagues and members of the public; and how he would behave differently in the future;


• A report from any recent or current employer on performance and personal development in that or those roles.

11. The Substantive Suspension Order imposed on the Registrant on 13 April 2016 was for a period of twelve months and took effect on 11 May 2016. This is a statutory review under Article 30(1) of that substantive order which will come to an end on 11 May 2017.

Evidence and submissions

12. The Panel has before it a copy of the Registrant’s Review Hearing Portfolio prepared for today’s hearing. This is a 34-page document which includes (amongst other things):

• copies of mentoring sessions with his Mentor who is an experienced Director of Children’s Services:
• reflective essays:
• timeline of events from June 2014, which included a list of training and development opportunities.

13. On the day of the hearing the Registrant provided a further bundle of documents containing 62 pages which related to the Registrant’s role with the Scouts Association as a Safeguarding Officer a position for which he did not require his professional registration however was employing his Social Worker skills. 

14. The Registrant accepted that the two bundles of documents were taken as the totality of his documentary evidence. The Registrant answered questions from the HCPC and the Panel under oath.
15. In his answers, the Registrant confirmed that whilst working for the Scout Association he had been investigating an allegation of a sexual relationship between a female young person and an adult. He had sent an email to the young person’s father, who was recorded on the system as the correct contact point for the young person. This email contained questions which he wished to ask the young person. The Registrant then received a curt telephone call from the young person’s mother who was in fact the resident adult.  She had taken exception to the Registrant contacting the father.

16. Following this the Registrant had been provided by the mother with the young person’s email address. The Registrant, being aware that the young person was in the car with her mother, sent by way of email the questions which he wished to ask the young person. However, this email had not been copied to an adult as required.

17. The Scouts Association had undertaken investigation of the Registrant’s handling of this incident of sending an email to the young person and not copying in another adult, and made a finding that there had been a breach of process which warranted a verbal warning entered on his employment record for six months, expiring in April 2017.

18. The Registrant had not informed the HCPC of this disciplinary matter at that time. He stated that he didn’t appreciate that this was a matter that he should have brought to the attention of the HCPC, however he had understood that he would be bringing it in due course, to this reviewing Panel.  The Registrant stated that on reflection he appreciated that he should have informed the HCPC at the time, in October 2016, that he was the subject of a disciplinary investigation. He accepted that he was, despite being suspended, subject to the terms of the HCPC Standards of Conduct, performance and ethics which required such disclosure.

19. The Registrant stated that he had learnt from events, in particular, the need to take a few minutes to consider, rather than react immediately to things said or to situations. In his words, he needed to “slow down and consider” what he has been told, and seek advice from peers colleagues and managers as required. He had also designed a template on which he recorded information given or received in telephone calls or at meetings. A copy of that template was in the paperwork before the Panel.

20. The Registrant told the Panel that he had identified his trigger symptoms that had led to his misconduct, and, that his previous dishonest behaviour had resulted from him trying to be ‘Superman’ and not appreciating nor admitting that ‘he was not coping’. He cited being irritable at work and staying at the office late as indicators of him struggling. Working more closely with his manager in his current role has resulted in him feeling more comfortable in approaching management and admitting when he is not coping.  Whilst the Registrant would wish to have the restriction on his registration removed, he stated that he had no intention of moving from his current role at the Scouts Association at this time. First, because this organisation is a cause close to his heart. Secondly, he had identified ways in which he could work with the Scout Association to further improve and widen its processes, something he would welcome the opportunity to do.

21. The Registrant stated that his mentoring had continued and his most recent session had been in March 2017, a session which had not yet been recorded in a report. That last mentoring session had focused on what the documentation presented to this Panel meant in terms of his development and further reflective work. The Annual Appraisal Record indicated that this mentoring support would continue in the coming year. The Registrant had also produced a testimonial from his current manager.

22. The HCPC noted the steps which the Registrant had taken to ensure that this Panel had before it the information which had been suggested at the Final Hearing. The Registrant had engaged positively in the HCPC process and had provided substantial evidence to support this. It was submitted that there were however continuing concerns about the Registrant’s abilities and fitness to practise given the information that the Registrant has disclosed relating to the recent disciplinary matter in his current employment. It was submitted that this disciplinary matter and the public interest in the maintenance of the reputation of the profession should be taken into account and balanced against the progress which the Registrant has taken towards remediation of his misconduct.

Decision 

23. In undertaking its task the Panel is conducting a comprehensive appraisal of the Registrant’s current abilities with a view to establishing whether he is now fit to return to unrestricted practice.  The Panel is not undertaking the task of rehearing the matters that had been brought against the Registrant, nor is it going behind the previous findings. 

24. This Panel has taken into account all documentation placed before it and has heard and given appropriate weight to the fresh evidence of performance supplied by the Registrant.  It has heard the parties’ submissions; taken and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor, and it has reminded itself of the terms of the Council’s Practice Note.

25. The Panel appreciated that as the Final Hearing Panel had found the Registrant’s behaviour constituted misconduct, this Panel had available to it the full range of sanction at this review.

26. In relation to the Registrant’s current fitness to practise, the Panel noted the Registrant’s acknowledgement that he had further work to undertake on his skills and abilities as a Social Worker, and his acceptance that his development of his reflective practice was ongoing.  The Panel noted the comments made within the Registrant’s annual appraisal that recorded the fact that the Scouts Association would continue to support the Registrant in these areas of his personal development.

27. The Panel also noted the limited range of issues which had been found at the Final Hearing to constitute misconduct, which were, not undertaking or recording statutory visits in respect of two service users, not attending a meeting at a contact centre, not completing a review report in a timely manner, as well as dishonesty in concealing his omissions.  In relation to the areas relating directly to his practice, the Panel considered whether the Registrant had demonstrated that he had remedied his misconduct and therefore whether there would be repetition of his acts and omissions.

28. The Registrant gave his answers to questions in a calm, considered and candid manner and made no attempt to minimise the nature of his misconduct. In the Panel’s view the Registrant demonstrated full insight into his previous failings. The Panel is reassured by the honest and full terms used within the records of the mentoring sessions the Registrant had attended. These showed a natural progression and development of insight into his previous failings. The Panel noted the Registrant’s coping mechanisms which he had adopted to avoid a repetition of his previous misconduct and concluded that these were suitable and practicable strategies. The Panel gave full weight to the positive testimonial, appraisal documents and mentoring records from the Registrant’s current employer.

29. In relation to the recent disciplinary finding, the Panel noted the context within which this event took place. In particular, the fact that the young person’s mother had been the one to provide the Registrant with the email address at a time when she was present with the young person in a car. The Panel also noted the Registrant’s strategy to ensure that he would not repeat this error, which was to take time to consider and plan his actions rather than react immediately. Whilst the Registrant’s action had not met process the Panel is of the view that this was an isolated lapse of judgment. In the Panel’s view this did not relate materially to the misconduct found at the Final Hearing.

30. The Panel did not consider the Registrant’s failure to inform the HCPC immediately of the disciplinary action being taken by the Scouts Association as serious for two reasons. First there is no time scale for disclosure. Secondly, this matter had been disclosed in the information which the Registrant had sent to the HCPC in advance of the hearing: there had been no attempt to conceal this matter or to reduce its significance.

31. The Panel is satisfied, taking into account all of the documentary and oral evidence in respect of the previous misconduct, that the Registrant has demonstrated full insight, has fully remediated and the likelihood of repetition is, in the Panel’s view, remote. In the Panel’s view public confidence has been satisfied by the imposition of a twelve month suspension of the Registrant’s registration and there is no continuing risk to the public. In these circumstances the Panel finds that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is no longer impaired.

 

Order

The Registrar is directed to allow the Suspension Order against the registration of Mr James Reid to lapse upon expiry.

 

 

Notes

No notes available

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Mr James Reid

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
06/04/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing No further action
11/04/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended