Mr Conilious Mapani

: Social worker

: SW100567

: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 24/08/2017 End: 17:00 24/08/2017

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

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Caution

Allegation

Allegation (as amended at the Substantive Hearing):
Whilst registered as a Social Worker with the Health and Care Professions Council:

1. On 21 April 2016 you received a Police caution from Kent Police for Common Assault.

2. By reason of your caution as set out in paragraph 1 your fitness to practise as a Social Worker is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters
Application for Private Hearing
1. Miss Sheridan, on behalf of the HCPC, made an application for the hearing to be conducted entirely in private. The Registrant did not oppose the application.

2. The Panel recognised that the ‘open justice’ principle presumes that hearings will be held in public, evidence will be given in public and media reporting will be permitted without restriction. However, the Panel accepted that as the Registrant will be identified a public hearing would also enable identification of the victim. The Panel was satisfied that it was not in the interests of justice for the victim to be identified and that the hearing should be conducted in private.

3. The Panel concluded that given the nature and circumstances of the case it would not be practicable to go in and out of private session and therefore it determined that the entire hearing should be conducted in private.

Background
4. The Registrant is a Social Worker. He was appointed as a newly qualified Mental Health Social Worker with the South West Kent Community Mental Health Team on 16 March 2015. His role involved regular contact with adults and their families including children of all ages.

5. On 2 April 2016 the Registrant’s neighbour contacted the police to report that he had witnessed a disturbance. The police attended the scene and the Registrant was arrested.

6. On 21 April 2016 the Registrant accepted a Police Caution from Kent Police for Common Assault.

7. The Registrant’s conduct was investigated by Kent County Council

Decision on Facts
Panel’s Approach
8. The Panel was aware that the burden of proving the facts was on the HCPC. The Registrant did not have to prove anything and the particular of the Allegation could only be found proved, if the Panel was satisfied, on the balance of probabilities.

9. In reaching its decision the Panel took into account the documentary evidence, the record of Follow-up Strategy discussion, the Investigation Report prepared on behalf of Kent County Council, the Simple Adult Caution form and character references provided on behalf of the Registrant. The Panel also took into account the submissions from both parties and HCPTS Practice Note entitled ‘Conviction and Caution Allegations’. The Panel was aware that it could not go behind the caution and was required to accept the formal confirmation of the police caution as conclusive proof of the caution itself and the underlying facts.

Decision
Particular 1 – Found Proved
‘Whilst registered as a Social Worker with the Health and Care Professions Council:
 On 21 April 2016 you received a Police caution from Kent Police for Common Assault;’

10. The Panel was provided with a Simple Adult Caution form, dated 21 April 2016 in the name of the Registrant, which was signed by the Registrant and a police officer. The Panel accepted the documentation as conclusive evidence that the Registrant received a police caution for Common Assault on 21 April 2016.

11. Therefore, the Panel was satisfied that the facts and ground had been proved.

Decision on Impairment
HCPC Submissions
12. Miss Sheridan, on behalf of the HCPC, invited the Panel to conclude that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired on the basis of both the personal and public component of the public interest. She submitted that the Registrant was slow to acknowledge his wrongdoing. She further submitted that public confidence in the profession would be undermined if a finding of impairment was not made.

Evidence
13. The Registrant chose to give evidence under oath. He expressed remorse and deep regret for what had happened. He acknowledged that it was his responsibility as an adult to remain in control of his emotions and that on this occasion he had not done so.

14. The Registrant explained to the Panel that he has reflected on his behaviour.

15. DN who had known the Registrant for 12 years, provided the Panel with oral character evidence. He stated that he was ‘shocked’ to hear what had happened and that it was completely out of character. He informed the Panel that the Registrant was ‘broken’ and full of remorse.

Panel’s Approach
16. The Panel went on to consider whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired. The Panel took into account the submissions of both parties. The Panel also took into account the HCPTS Practice Note: ‘Finding that Fitness to Practise is Impaired’ and the HCPTS Practice Note: ‘Conviction and Caution Allegations’. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

17. In determining current impairment the Panel had regard to the following aspects of the public interest:
• The ‘personal’ component: the current behaviour of the individual registrant; and
• The ‘public’ component: the need to protect service users, declare and uphold proper standards of behaviour and maintain public confidence in the profession.

Decision
18. The Panel first considered the Registrant’s current fitness to practise from the wider public perspective and then from the personal perspective.

19. In considering the public component the Panel had regard to the important public policy issues which include the need to protect the public, maintain confidence in the profession and declare and uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour. The Panel considered the HCPC Standards of Conduct and Ethics and was satisfied that the Registrant’s conduct and behaviour represented a significant departure from the following standard:
9.1 - ‘You must make sure that your conduct justifies the public’s trust and confidence in you and your profession.

20. The Registrant’s conduct fell far below the standard expected of a registered Social Worker and the Panel concluded that it is unacceptable for a social work professional to commit a criminal offence under any circumstances. The Panel noted that the role of a Social Worker necessarily involves safeguarding children and/or adults who may be victims of violence or at risk of becoming a victim. The Panel concluded that the Registrant’s conduct and behaviour as a perpetrator of unlawful violence breached a fundamental tenet of the profession and brought the profession into disrepute.

21. The Panel also concluded that a reasonable and informed member of the public would find the Registrant’s conduct to be unacceptable in the context of his professional role. As a consequence the Panel was satisfied that public confidence in the profession and in the HCPC as a regulator would be undermined if a finding of impairment of fitness to practise was not made, given the nature and seriousness of the Registrant’s caution.

22. The Panel went on to consider the personal component. The Panel recognised that demonstrating remediation following a police caution for assault can be particularly difficult, as the underlying issues are reliant on attitude, which can often only be inferred from conduct. However, the Panel was satisfied that the Registrant demonstrated considerable insight during his oral evidence. He demonstrated that he fully appreciates the consequences of his actions, his profession and the wider public. The Registrant informed the Panel that he had undertaken counselling shortly after the incident in respect of his own behaviour. The Panel heard that the Registrant had intended to start a course in September 2016. Although the Registrant had not attended any courses or formal CPD courses, he was clearly aware that such courses are available. The Panel was particularly impressed that the Registrant recognised that it is not the attendance on a course which is of most significance but the learning that has been acquired. 

23. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant, despite his difficult personal circumstances, has taken the opportunity to reflect on his behaviour. The Panel was also satisfied that the Registrant had insight into how to manage a similar situation in the future and how to advise others in his professional role. In light of the Registrant’s meaningful reflection and commitment to ongoing remediation the Panel concluded that risk of repetition was low.

24. The Panel concluded that for these reasons the Registrant’s fitness to practise is not currently impaired based on the personal component.

25. Having determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired on the basis of the wider public interest the Panel concluded that the HCPC’s case is well-founded.

Decision on Sanction
Panel’s Approach
26. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel was mindful that the purpose of any sanction is not to punish the Registrant twice for the same offence, but to protect the public and the wider public interest. The public interest includes maintaining public confidence in the profession and the HCPC as its regulator, upholding proper standards of conduct and behaviour and deterring other registrants. The Panel applied the principle of proportionality by weighing the Registrant’s interests with the public interest and by considering each available sanction in ascending order of severity.

27. The Panel took into account the submissions made by both parties and its findings on impairment of the Registrant’s fitness to practise. The Panel also had regard to the Indicative Sanctions Policy (ISP).

Decision
28. In determining the appropriate sanction, if any, to impose, the Panel first identified what it considered to be the mitigating and aggravating features of the case. The Panel identified the following mitigating factors:

• The Registrant’s admission to the police and his taking full responsibility for his actions;
• The conduct was completely out of character;
• The conduct was an isolated lapse in an otherwise unblemished career in 18 years of social care;
• The positive character references and testimonials submitted on the Registrant’s behalf;
• The positive professional reference from his former manager;
• The Registrant’s positive engagement with the regulatory process;
• The Registrant promptly embarked on taking steps towards remediation.

The Panel identified the following aggravating factors:
• The assault was physical;
• The incident was sufficiently serious to cause a public disturbance and result in a neighbour calling the police;

29. The Panel first considered taking no action. The Panel concluded that, in view of the nature and seriousness of the Registrant’s conduct to take no action on his registration would be inappropriate. Furthermore, in the absence of exceptional circumstances the Panel concluded that taking no action would be insufficient to maintain public confidence and uphold the reputation of the profession.

30. The Panel then considered a Caution Order.  The Panel noted paragraph 28 of the ISP 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.”

31. The Panel took the view that the Registrant’s police caution and his underlying behaviour could not be described as minor in nature. However, the Panel was satisfied that his conduct was isolated and was unlikely to be repeated given the significant insight that the Registrant has demonstrated. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant fully appreciated that his behaviour was unacceptable and that as a consequence public trust and confidence in the profession was undermined. The Panel was also satisfied that the Registrant had promptly taken appropriate steps to remediate his conduct and behaviour by seeking professional help through counselling and reflecting on how to engage in a positive and constructive manner. Furthermore, the Panel was satisfied that the Registrant’s demeanour and responses to the questions that were put to him during his oral evidence clearly indicated that he is extremely remorseful.

32. In these circumstances the panel concluded that a Caution Order would adequately meet the wider public interest in terms of declaring and upholding proper standards or maintain public confidence in the profession.

33. The Panel, prior to confirming its decision to impose a Caution Order went on to consider a Conditions of Practice Order. The Panel concluded that the Registrant’s police caution for Common Assault and the underlying facts upon which it is based, is not amenable to conditions. The conduct did not relate to a service user. As a consequence the Panel took the view that it was not possible to formulate workable conditions. The Panel next considered a Suspension Order. The Panel concluded that in the circumstances of this case, a Suspension Order would be punitive and disproportionate.

34. Having determined that a Caution Order was the appropriate and proportionate sanction the Panel went on to consider the issue of duration. The Panel concluded that a period of 18 months would mark the seriousness of the Registrant’s conduct and behaviour. It would send a clear message to the public, the Registrant and other registrants re-affirming the high standards of behaviour expected of all registered Social Workers.

Order

The Registrar is directed to annotate the register entry of Mr Conilious Mapani with a caution which is to remain on the register for a period of 18 months from the date this order comes into effect.

Notes

The Order imposed today will apply from 21 September 2017.

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Mr Conilious Mapani

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
24/08/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Caution