Mr Krishen Chinappen

: Social worker

: SW23026

: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 11/05/2017 End: 17:00 11/05/2017

: Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service (HCPTS), 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Caution

Allegation

Whilst registered as a Social Worker, you:

1. On 23 July 2015 at Hampshire County Court received a caution for disclosing sexual photographs.

2. By reason of your caution as set out at paragraph 1 your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminaries

Application to amend the Allegation

1. At the outset of the Hearing, Mr Newman, on behalf of the HCPC applied to amend factual particular 1 to delete the words ‘at Hampshire County Council’. He said that this location was factually incorrect, as the police caution would have been administered in the police station. He said that the amendment would not materially affect the allegation.

2. Miss Sharma, Counsel on behalf of the Registrant, did not oppose the application.

3. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. It determined to allow the application to amend, so that the inaccurate location of where the police caution had been administered could be removed from the factual particular. It did not consider that this would cause any injustice to the Registrant.


Background

4. The Registrant is a Social Worker, registered with the HCPC. In 1996 he began working in the social work field and completed his qualifications before working for Hampshire County Council in a Family Support Team in 2003. By 2008 he had been promoted to the role of a senior practitioner. In 2009 he worked for Cafcass and gained court work experience. In 2012 he returned to Hampshire County Council to the role of Team Manager of a Children in Need Team.

5. On 23 July 2015, the Registrant accepted an Adult Police Caution for the offence of “disclose private sexual photographs and films with intent to cause distress”, contrary to section 33(1) and (9) of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015.

6. The context was that the Registrant was suffering difficult personal and health matters at the time.

7. At the time the Registrant was working at Hampshire County Council in the role of Team Manager of a Children in Need Team. His employer conducted an investigation into the matter and held disciplinary proceedings. On 3 March 2016 the Registrant was dismissed from his post.

8. The Registrant self-referred the police caution to the HCPC by letter, dated 7 October 2015. The matter was investigated and a panel of the Investigating Committee, meeting on 27 October 2016, determined that there was a case to answer. On 21 November 2016, the HCPC wrote to the Registrant to provide him with the option of consenting to a Caution being placed on his registration for a period of three years.

Decision

9. The Panel had the benefit of the HCPC bundle of documents, which included relevant information which the Registrant wished to have included for the Panel’s consideration, namely his correspondence with the HCPC (including his representations to the Investigating Committee), a letter from his GP, a letter from a Counsellor and two letters of support from his current employer. The Panel heard submissions from both parties, as well as hearing the Registrant give evidence on oath.

10. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. It had regard to the HCPTS Practice Notes on Disposal of Cases by Consent and on Impairment. It also had regard to the Indicative Sanctions Policy (the Policy). The Panel understood that it should not agree to a case being resolved by consent unless it is satisfied that:

• the appropriate level of public protection is being secured; and
• doing so would not be detrimental to the wider public interest.

11. The Panel had a copy of the Record of Adult Caution and was therefore satisfied that the Registrant had accepted a Caution on 23 July 2015. The Panel understood that a caution is one of the Statutory Grounds by which a Registrant’s fitness to practise may be impaired.

12.  In order to determine whether the proposed disposal by consent was appropriate, the Panel considered the issue of current impairment in respect of both the ‘personal’ and ‘public’ components.

13. In respect of the ‘personal’ component, the Panel had regard to the Registrant’s written documents as well as his oral evidence. It was clear to the Panel that the Registrant had significantly reflected on his actions over the last two years. He expressed significant remorse for his actions, which the Panel was satisfied was genuine and heartfelt. He had developed insight into what he had done, and the potential impact that it could have had on others. The Panel accepted the Registrant’s evidence that he was ‘shocked and appalled’ at what he had done. The Panel was also satisfied that he had considerable insight into the responsibilities of a Social Worker and how the actions in a personal capacity reflect upon on a Social Worker in a professional capacity, and may adversely affect the reputation of the profession and undermine the public confidence in it.

14. The Panel bore in mind that the Registrant had successfully been working as a Social Worker through an Agency in the period since his dismissal from Hampshire County Council.

15. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had demonstrated significant levels of remorse and insight, such that the risk of him behaving in a similar way in the future was very low. The Panel did not judge that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was currently impaired in respect of the ‘personal’ component’.

16. However, in respect of the ‘public’ component, the Panel was of the view that the nature of the Adult Police Caution was serious and a matter of public concern. As the Registrant himself had identified, a police caution of this nature damages the nature of the profession. The Panel judged that a finding of current impairment on the ‘public’ component was required in order to maintain public confidence in the profession and further, to uphold professional standards of conduct and behaviour.

17. The Panel went on to consider whether the sanction agreed by the parties, namely a Caution Order of three years, was the appropriate and proportionate sanction. It had regard to paragraph 28 of the Policy. Taking note of the criteria identified as appropriate to a Caution Order, the Panel was of the view that the ‘lapse is isolated’; ‘there is a low risk of repetition’, ‘the registrant has shown insight and taken appropriate remedial action’. The Panel also considered that, in the particular circumstances of this case, the nature of the allegation is such that meaningful practice restrictions cannot be imposed but that suspension from practice would be disproportionate. The Panel was satisfied that there were no public protection issues in respect of potential Service Users, and so a more restrictive sanction was not required. In all the circumstances the Panel was of the view that the ‘benchmark’ of three years for a Caution Order was appropriate.

18. The Panel therefore approves the Consent Order.

 

Order

The Registrar is directed to annotate the register entry of Mr Krishen Chinappen  with a caution which is to remain on the register for a period of 3 years from the date this order comes into effect.

Notes

The Order will be removed on its expiry date.

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Mr Krishen Chinappen

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
11/05/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Caution