Mr Andrew Buckley

: Social worker

: SW107232

: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 30/05/2017 End: 17:00 30/05/2017

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

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Caution

Allegation

During the course of your employment as a Social Worker with Salford City Council, you:

 

1. On 5 April 2016, at Manchester and Salford Magistrates' Court, were convicted of the following offence:

 

a) On 2 December 2015, assaulted Person A by beating him. Contrary to section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.

 

2. By reason of your conviction, as set out at paragraph 1, your fitness to practise as a Social Worker is impaired.

Finding

Background:

1. On 2 December 2015, the Registrant was travelling in a private hire taxi at approximately 21:30 hours. An altercation occurred between the Registrant and the taxi driver, which resulted in the police being called and the Registrant being arrested and charged with racially aggravated assault.

2. The Registrant cooperated with the police investigation and he made an admission at the start to having been involved in the altercation with the taxi driver and that during the altercation an assault occurred. He maintained that this was not intentional, and accepted that an assault by beating could be committed recklessly. He denied that there was any racial motivation or that the assault was racially aggravated.

3. On the 14 March 2016 at Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court, the allegation that the assault was racially motivated was dropped and the Registrant pleaded guilty to Common Assault. The Registrant was fined £500 for the offence and ordered to pay compensation in the sum of £100.

4. The matter was referred to the HCPC by the Registrant on the 28 January 2016. On 19 September 2016, a Panel of the Investigating Committee determined that there was a case to answer in relation to the allegation made against the Registrant.

5. Subsequent to the Investigating Committee’s decision, the Registrant made further representations to the HCPC. In the light of those representations, a decision was made by the HCPC that the appropriate method of dealing with this allegation is by way of Consent Order.

6. That is the application that is being made at this hearing.


Decision:

7. In coming to its determination, the Panel considered all the evidence in this case together with the submissions made by Ms Turner on behalf of the HCPC, and the signed written statement of the Registrant.

8. Ms Turner submitted that this was a case that was suitable for disposal by way of consent and that the proposed sanction of a Caution Order for a period of three years was appropriate and just.

9. Mr Buckley told the Panel that he fully accepted that his actions were unacceptable.   He said that alcohol had affected his behaviour that night but did not excuse it. As a result he has abstained from alcohol since that evening. He told the Panel that he informed his then employers about the criminal case and as a result he had been dismissed from his employment for gross misconduct. Since then, he volunteered his services in the care sector.

10. From October 2016 he had been employed within the health and social care setting - working with adults with mental heath and drug issues. He told the Panel that he has recently secured an offer of employment within an NHS mental health team, and that his prospective employers were aware of his conviction and also of these proceedings. He said that they were willing to agree to his starting  employment with them if he receives a Caution Order as a sanction for these matters.

11. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel also reminded itself of its over-arching objective to protect the public and the wider public interest.

12. The Panel was satisfied that the HCPC’s case was well founded in the light of the certificate of conviction from the Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court and the admissions made by the Registrant.  The Panel then considered what would be the likely range of sanctions that could be imposed based on the evidence in this case, and compared that with the proposed course indicated in the Consent Order. In doing so, the Panel took into consideration the following factors:
(a)The admission made by the Registrant on being charged with the offence of Common Assault
(b)The admission by the Registrant that his fitness to practise was impaired by reason of the conviction, and that his behaviour fell below the standard expected of a Social Worker.
(c) The Registrant was of previous good character prior to this conviction.
(d) The Registrant has voluntarily undergone an Equality and Diversity course.
(e) The level of insight demonstrated by the Registrant.
(f) The positive references provided by two senior colleagues of the Registrant.
(g) The Registrant’s self-referral of these matters to the HCPC.

13.The Panel was mindful of the fact that the sentence imposed is not necessarily a good indicator of the seriousness of the offence when considered in a regulatory context. The Panel was satisfied that the evidence demonstrated that the Registrant has now full insight into his actions that led to the conviction, and that his actions are not liable to be repeated.

14. The Panel took into consideration the Indicative Sanctions Policy issued by the HCPC and determined that the only just and appropriate sanction available in this case would be a Caution Order. This is not a case where Conditions of Practice would be appropriate because there are no identifiable areas of the Registrant’s practice as a Social Worker that require conditions to rectify. It also determined that in the circumstances of this case, a Suspension Order would neither be a just nor an appropriate sanction as it would be excessive and punitive in nature.

15. In particular, the Panel noted paragraph 28 of the Indicative Sanctions Policy, which states:
A caution order is an appropriate sanction for cases, where the lapse is isolated, limited or relatively minor in nature, there is a low risk of recurrence, the registrant has shown insight and taken appropriate remedial action. A caution order should also be considered in cases where the nature of the allegation means that meaningful practice restrictions cannot be imposed but where the registrant has shown insight, the conduct concerned is out of character, the risk of repetition is low and thus suspension from practice would be disproportionate. A caution order is unlikely to be appropriate in cases where the registrant lacks insight.

16.In the circumstances, the Panel was satisfied that the terms of the Consent Order would:
(a)protect the public; and
(b)would not undermine public confidence in the profession or the regulatory process.

17.Notwithstanding the above, the Panel also considered whether this case was so serious that a public substantive hearing was necessary in the wider public interest. It determined that this case was not so serious as to make a public substantive hearing necessary.

18. In the circumstances, the Panel determined that a Consent Order that places a Caution against the Registrant’s name in the Register for a period of three years is a just and appropriate method of dealing with this case.

19. The Panel therefore allows this allegation to conclude by way of consensual disposal as set out in the terms of the Consent Order before it.

Order

The Registrar is directed to annotate the register entry of  Mr Andrew Buckley 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 Caution by way of a Consent order is made with immediate effect. 

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Mr Andrew Buckley

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
30/05/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Caution