Mr Robert Clarke

: Social worker

: Mr Robert Clarke

: Restoration

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 02/05/2017 End: 17:00 02/05/2017

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

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Restored

Allegation

As heard before the General Social Care Council (GSCC) on 18-20 October 2010:

Whilst a Qualified Social Worker registered with the General Social Care Council:

1 (a) On or about 11 December 2007, your partner, G, gave an employment reference on your behalf. Neither you nor G highlighted that she was your partner and was not working in the Social Care field.

(b) The employment reference provided by G to the London Borough of Brent to secure your social work post was misleading.

(c) The content of the employment reference indicated that you assisted G in its preparation.

(d) In relation to (a), (b) and (c) above, you were dishonest

2 (a) You were arrested on 14 July 2009 in relation to an allegation of assault made by a minor (Child A) on or about 3 July 2009.

(b) You accepted a formal caution for this offence on 21 September 2009.

3 Redacted

4 You failed to inform the GSCC of the caution referred to in 2(b) above.

5 (a) On or about a date between 7 July 2009 and 6 November 2009, you used a colleague from the London Borough of Brent, who was a team peer, as a reference to obtain employment as an Agency Social Worker. You failed to give your manager as a referee who would have alerted the Agency to the circumstances under which you left your previous role.

(b) Not proved.

And in relation to the above, you have committed misconduct.

Finding

Background

1. The Applicant became registered with the General Social Care Council (GSCC) on 12 June 2007.

2. At a Final Hearing between 18-20 October 2010, the GSCC considered an allegation of misconduct against the Applicant. Misconduct was found in respect of two areas. The first was in using a reference provided by the Applicant’s partner to support his application for the Social Worker post in Brent, and doing so dishonestly by not highlighting the relationship between them. The second was in relation to an assault on Child A, for which he received a police caution.

3. The Applicant did not attend the Final Hearing in 2010. The original panel, in its determination, concluded that there was lack of insight by the Applicant into his dishonesty, exacerbated by his not attending the Final Hearing, such that it concluded that there was a risk of repetition. It was also concerned that there had been an assault, which involved using violence, on a child. At that time the original panel concluded that the Applicant’s behaviour was fundamentally incompatible with remaining on the Register and imposed a Striking Off Order.

4. On 27 May 2014, the Applicant made an application for restoration to the Register. On that occasion he did attend and gave evidence. That first restoration panel, in light of the Applicant's evidence, concluded that the Applicant had gone some way in respect of remediating his conduct in relation to the assault which led to the police caution. It also concluded that he had gone some way to demonstrating that his integrity could be relied upon, having provided positive references.

5. However, the first restoration panel had concerns about whether the Applicant would be “capable of safe and effective practice”. It recognised that there had been no previous concerns about the Applicant's clinical practice, but it was concerned that he had not worked in the field of social work in any capacity since 2009. In their view his evidence demonstrated “only a limited knowledge and understanding of important developments” in the field over the previous few years. It found “an absence of any evidence to persuade it that, if restored unconditionally, he could provide safe and effective practice, given the length of time since he last practised as a Social Worker”. The first restoration panel was not persuaded that either supervision or notification requirements would be a sufficient safeguard to permit him to practise at that time. It refused his application to be restored to the Register.

Decision

6. The Applicant attended today and was represented by Mr Moulder, Counsel. The Applicant gave evidence to the Panel and provided a bundle of documents which included: a personal statement by him, dated 2 May 2017; a reflective account; references; job descriptions for posts which he had held since the first restoration application; and a Degree Certificate from Greenwich University awarding a Degree in Health and Social Care, dated 17 June 2016.

7. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. She advised that Article 33 of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001 (the 2001 Order) states:

“(5) The Committee shall not grant an application for restoration unless it is satisfied, on such evidence as it may require, that the applicant not only satisfies the requirements of article 9(2)(a) and (b) but, having regard in particular to the circumstances which led to the making of the order under article 29, 30 or 38, is also a fit and proper person to practise the relevant profession.

(6) The Committee may make the granting of an application subject to the applicant satisfying such requirements as to additional education or training and experience as the Council has specified under article 19(3) and which apply to him.”

8. The Panel had regard to the HCPTS Practice Note on “Restoration to the Register”. It understood that it was for the Applicant to provide evidence to satisfy the Panel that he meets the general requirements of registration, and is a ‘fit and proper person’ to practise in the profession. It also had regard to the HCPC guidance on “Returning to Practice”.

9. In respect of the original matters for which the Applicant had been struck off, the Panel had regard to the circumstances at the time. It considered that neither the dishonesty nor the assault had occurred during his professional practice. The dishonesty had not been committed when the Applicant was in a position of trust.

10. The Panel was of the view that the Applicant had continued to develop the insight which had been identified by the first Restoration panel. The Panel noted from the Applicant’s evidence today that he understood the adverse reputational damage behaviour such as his, both in respect of dishonesty and an assault on a child, would have on public confidence in the profession, and that he recognised that it “goes against our training and values [as Social Workers]”. As he had not attended the Final Hearing, the original panel had not had the benefit of knowing whether or not the Applicant expressed remorse, or what level of insight he had.

11. The Panel accepted that he had resolved his behaviour. He had also undertaken volunteer work with refugees, where he had been supervised by a Senior Social Worker who had also sent him on relevant training courses in respect of safeguarding children and young people.

12. The Panel was also satisfied, from the Applicant’s evidence, that he had thought about how he would try to diffuse difficult and potentially aggressive situations in respect of potential service users with whom he may come into contact in the future. In the circumstances, the Panel was of the view that the Applicant had demonstrated remorse, insight and remediation, such that the risk of repetition of either resorting to violence or acting dishonestly was low.

13. In addition, a period of eight years has now elapsed since the misconduct occurred and there had been no suggestion of anything similar in that time. The Panel was satisfied from the evidence and material provided by the Applicant that he was now a ‘fit and proper’ person to be a Social Worker.

14. In respect of whether the Applicant met the general requirements for registration, the Panel broke this down into two questions. The first question was whether he had the approved qualification and appropriate education, training and experience. The second question was whether he is capable of safe and effective practice.

15. In respect of the first question, the Panel had regard to a HCPC Registrations form which the Applicant had completed in support of his application for restoration. The information within this form appears to demonstrate that he satisfies the general requirements for practice, including a period of updating, supervised practice, formal study and private study. The HCPC guidance on “Returning to Practice” says that this information will be checked to verify it. At this stage, there is no confirmation by the Registrations Department as to whether or not the information has been checked, and so before any restoration will need to be subject to such confirmation by the Registrar.

16. In respect of the second question, the Panel had regard to what the Applicant has been doing since the time of the first restoration application, when that panel had concerns that he had not worked in the field of social work in any capacity since 2009 and that his evidence demonstrated “only a limited knowledge and understanding of important developments” in the field over the previous few years. The Panel accepted that the Applicant had taken on board those observations and had sought to address those deficiencies. He had updated his knowledge and skills by successfully attaining a Degree in Health and Social Care from Greenwich University in June 2016.

17. The Panel had regard to the fact that he had also recently started work in the field of social care. He had originally worked as a volunteer in a refugee and migrant project supporting migrants, and his work had been supervised by a Senior Social Worker. He had obtained work in December 2012, as a Learning Support Assistant to assist vulnerable children to access mainstream learning. In February 2017, the Applicant had started work as a Support Worker at a mental health trust with social workers and a multi-disciplinary team. In this role he was working with people with mental health difficulties. The Panel was satisfied that these roles had contributed to the Applicant’s development of his knowledge and skills and that they were transferable to the field of Social Work.

18. In all the circumstances, the Panel has decided to grant the application to restore the Applicant to the Social Work part of the HCPC Register. His return to practice will be subject to the Registrar being satisfied that he has successfully completed the professional updating in accordance with the HCPC “Returning to Practice” booklet.

Order

The Registrar is directed to restore Robert Clarke (the Applicant) to the Social Work Part of the Register, but such restoration shall only take effect upon the Applicant paying the prescribed restoration fee and providing evidence which satisfies the Registrar that the Applicant has successfully completed the return to practice requirements in accordance with the HCPC standards for Returning to Practice.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Mr Robert Clarke

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
02/05/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Restoration Restored