Mr Richard Anthony Williams

: Social worker

: SW38273

: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:12:30 31/08/2017 End: 17:00 31/08/2017

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

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Struck off

Allegation

The following allegation was considered by a Panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee at the substantive hearing on 10 – 11 August 2016:

During the course of your employment as a Residential Care Worker with South Gloucestershire Council and whilst registered as a Social Worker, on the 16 November 2014, you:
1. Called Young Person 1 a “******* coward”, or words to that effect.
2. Told Young Person 1 that he had “snaked” another young person, or words to that effect.
3. Referred to Young Person 1 a “*****”, or words to that effect. Not found proved
4. Encouraged Young Person 1 to take violent action towards you.
5. The matters set out in paragraph 1 – 4 constitutes misconduct.
6. By reason of your misconduct and/or lack of competence your fitness to practise is impaired.

At the substantive hearing the Panel found particulars 1, 2 and 4 of the Allegation (above) proved. The Panel found the proven particulars amounted to misconduct and the Registrant’s fitness to practise to be impaired. The Panel imposed a 12 month suspension order as a sanction.

Finding

Background:
1. The Registrant, a registered Social Worker, was employed as a Residential Care Officer at the Vinney Green Secure Unit (the Unit) in Bristol for young people aged between 10 and 17. His role involved caring, amongst others, for young people convicted of criminal offences.
2. The particulars found proved related to an incident on 16 November 2014 when Young Person 1 (aged 14) was a service user at the Unit following a custodial sentence he had received for a criminal offence.
3. That evening, Young Person 1 allegedly attacked another service user whilst using the Unit’s gym. The Registrant had been present during this incident. About 30 minutes later the Registrant was supervising an activity in the phase 1 lounge of the Unit, when he verbally provoked Young Person 1 in the manner described in the proved particulars of the Allegation and thereby encouraged him into taking violent action against the Registrant. As a result, Young Person 1 had to be physically restrained by staff.
At the review hearing today (31 August 2017): 
Submissions from the HCPC:
4. Ms Dudrah submitted that the Registrant’s fitness to practice remained impaired. She submitted that the Registrant had not displayed sufficient insight into his shortcomings and had provided no real evidence of any continuing professional development (CPD). She pointed out that, in his evidence, the Registrant said that, if faced again with the situation that confronted him in November 2014, he would have reacted in similar fashion. Furthermore, Ms Dudrah stressed that the Registrant, at points during the course of the giving of his evidence, had expressed no desire to return to the social work profession. She submitted that the existing suspension order should be confirmed. In the alternative, she advocated that a striking off order should be imposed. She contended that one of those orders was necessary for the protection of the public and was in the public interest.
Submissions from the Registrant:
5. For his part, the Registrant, in his evidence today, expressed dissatisfaction at the result of the HCPC Substantive Hearing in August 2016. He told the Panel that a reason that he did not attend those proceedings was because he was angry and that he had not received support from anywhere.
6. The Registrant stated that in the last 12 months he had been unable to find any voluntary work in the field of social work because a reference from his previous employer questioned his integrity. He had been working as a carpenter for a company and had been taking exams to become a member of the Federation of Master Builders.
7. The Registrant conceded that his CPD was not up to date. In 2012, he completed an academic “Back to Social Work” course but the last job that he had that required a social work qualification was in 2008. In response to a question on this subject, he said that CPD was “not going to make a difference”, because he felt that he would not be able to secure a social work role. On the one hand, he exhibited a desire to work with young people caught up in the criminal justice system in his role as a Social Worker but, on the other hand, he said more than once that by returning to that profession he would not find any help or protection from fellow professionals.
8. Although in the past the Registrant had taken great satisfaction from working with troubled young people, he felt let down by his employers and regulatory body. The Registrant said it would be “better to part company with Social Work”. In reply to a question from a Panellist, the Registrant admitted that he would react “probably much the same” if he were again confronted with the situation which originally led to these proceedings because he maintained that he took the right course of action at the relevant time.
Decision:
9. The Panel took full account of all of the evidence in this case and the oral submissions from each party. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel took account of the HCPTS Practice Note on Finding that Fitness to Practise is “Impaired”.
10. The Panel first considered the personal component and took account of the repeated statement made by the Registrant that he did not accept the findings made at the Substantive Hearing in August 2016. As such, the Panel finds that the Registrant is exhibiting little or no insight, and has shown no remorse. He has made no attempt to keep his CPD up to date. In relation to the public component, the Panel noted the Registrant’s contention that he would have reacted in much the same manner if the conditions of the events in November 2014 were repeated. Therefore, the risk of reposition remains high. In these circumstances, the Panel would be failing in its duty to protect the public and maintain proper standards of conduct were it to permit such a Registrant to practise without restriction. Public confidence would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made.
11. In considering the appropriate and proportionate sanction to impose, the Panel reminded itself of the provisions of the HCPC’s Indicative Sanctions Policy. The Panel’s view is that it would not be sufficient to conclude this case by taking no action, by referring it for mediation or by imposing a Caution Order. Such sanctions would not provide sufficient public protection.
12. Next, the Panel considered whether a Conditions of Practice Order would be appropriate in this case. Although the Panel determined that it would be possible to formulate appropriate conditions, it was clear from the Registrant’s oral evidence to the Panel that he did not accept that there was a need to remediate. He had not provided the information recommended by the previous panel. The Panel therefore could not be satisfied that the Registrant would comply with any conditions.   
13. The Panel then went on to consider whether it was appropriate to extend the current order of Suspension. In light of the Registrant’s failure to acknowledge his wrongdoing, unwillingness to address the failings and his wish to leave the Social Work profession the Panel could see no useful purpose in extending the current period of Suspension. The Panel also determined that it was not in the public interest or in the Registrant’s own interest to prolong the regulatory proceedings by continuing the Suspension Order.
14. Therefore, although the misconduct found proved against the Registrant was not of the gravest nature, given all the circumstances the Panel felt that the only course open to it was to impose a Striking Off Order.

Order

The Registrar is directed to strike the name of Mr Richard Anthony Williams from the register with immediate effect.

Notes

Right of Appeal:
You may appeal to the High Court in England and Wales against the Panel’s decision and the order it has made against you.
Under Articles 30(10) and 38 of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001, any appeal must be made to the court not more than 28 days after the date when this notice is served on you.

European alert mechanism:
In accordance with Regulation 67 of the European Union (Recognition of Professional Qualifications) Regulations 2015, the HCPC will inform the competent authorities in all other EEA States that your right to practise has been prohibited.
You may appeal to the County Court against the HCPC’s decision to do so.  Any appeal must be made within 28 days of the date when this notice is served on you.  This right of appeal is separate from your right to appeal against the decision and order of the Panel.

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Mr Richard Anthony Williams

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
31/08/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Struck off
11/08/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Adjourned
10/08/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended