Dr Jenny Parker

: Practitioner psychologist

: PYL27628

: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 04/12/2017 End: 17:00 04/12/2017

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

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Caution

Allegation

1. Whilst registered as a Practitioner Psychologist on or around 31 October 2016 at Preston Magistrates’ Court, you were convicted of:


a. Between 25 November 2012 and 16 June 2016 at Southport in the county of Merseyside, you pursued a course of conduct which amounted to the stalking of Person 1 and which you knew or ought to have known amounted to the harassment of him, contrary to section 2A(1) and (4) of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.


2. By reason of your conviction as set out in Paragraph 1, your fitness to practice as a Practitioner Psychologist is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters:

Application to amend

1. Ms Parry on behalf of the HCPC applied to amend the Allegation so as to refer to the complainant in the criminal case by the term “P1” rather than his initials. This application was not opposed by Mr Henry on behalf of the Registrant. The Panel allowed this amendment on the basis that it clearly involved no question of unfairness or prejudice to the Registrant.

Background

2. The Registrant is a registered Practitioner Psychologist. The Registrant has practiced as an Educational and Child Psychologist at Liverpool City Council since 2010 and was promoted to the post of Senior Educational and Child Psychologist since 2012, a role which she continues to undertake.
3. On or around 31 October 2016 the Registrant was convicted at Preston Magistrates Court of stalking Person 1, a person known to her outside her professional life and who she met at the gym. She was sentenced to a Community Order for 18 months, to include unpaid work for 100 hours over 12 months. Further she was made the subject of a restraining order in respect of Person 1, to last upon further order. She was also ordered to pay compensation in the sum of £300, a surcharge to fund victim services in the sum of £60, and prosecution costs in the sum of £300. 

Decision on Facts

4. The Registrant admitted the allegation. In addition, the Panel had sight of a signed Memorandum of an entry in the register of Preston Magistrates Court for 31 October 2016. During the Panel’s deliberations on facts the Panel noted that the Memorandum refers to the date of conviction as 28 October 2016 whilst other documentation refers to 31 October 2016. With the agreement of both parties and having accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor, and before announcing its decisions on facts, the Panel of its volition amended the date of the conviction as set out in the Allegation to “ on or around” 31 October 2016.  The Panel considered the Practice Note entitled “Conviction and Caution Allegations” and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel accepted the Memorandum document as proof of that conviction and of the findings of fact upon which it is based, pursuant to Rule 10(1)(d) of the HCPC (Conduct and Competence Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003. The Panel therefore found the facts proved.  

Decision on impairment

5. Having found that the Registrant received the conviction as set out in the Allegation, the Panel went on to consider whether her fitness to practise is currently impaired. The Panel heard submissions from both Ms Parry on behalf of the HCPC and Mr Henry on behalf of the Registrant. Mr Henry informed the Panel that the Registrant accepted that her fitness to practise is currently impaired.

6. They took into account the HCPTS Practice Notes entitled “Conviction and Caution Allegations” and Finding that Fitness to Practise is “Impaired””. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor who referred to the case of CHRE v (1) NMC (2) Grant [2011] EWHC 927 and CHRE v (1) GDC (2) Fleischmann [2005] EWHC 87. The Panel was aware that impairment is a matter for its independent judgment, and that there is no burden of proof on either party in respect of this issue.

7. The Panel considered all of the evidence including the witness statement submitted by the Registrant, her reflective statement, the witness statement and oral evidence (by telephone) of the Registrant’s line manager, and the positive testimonials and other evidence submitted by the Registrant, including a positive letter from Merseyside Probation. The Registrant answered questions from the Panel directly albeit without giving evidence.

8. The Panel took into account that the Registrant is a senior practitioner and that the testimonials speak highly of her personally and professionally. The evidence of her line manager who has known her in her professional capacity for nearly eleven years, also made clear that there have been no concerns about her work at Liverpool City Council and the Panel accepts this.

9. The Panel carefully took into account the Registrant’s answers to its questions, her witness statement and her reflective piece. It noted that that while she has completed the unpaid work element of her Community Order, she still remains subject to the supervision element until April 2018.

10. It is clear to the Panel that there have never been reported any concerns about the Registrant’s practice. While as a result of the conviction, she has reflected upon the inappropriate crossing of boundaries, there have never been concerns that she has breached professional boundaries.

11. The Panel carefully considered everything put before it in relation to insight and remediation. The Panel was also of the view that when answering the Panel’s questions, the Registrant did her best to answer them as fully as she could, and was honest and forthright with the Panel. The Panel was of the view that the Registrant has achieved a level of insight in relation to the conduct upon which her conviction is based, and she has undertaken steps to remediate that behaviour. The Panel took into account that she has undertaken counselling which entailed six sessions along with activities. She requested further support from Probation in the form of a referral to the Women’s Turnaround Project and sees a keyworker there on a monthly basis, according to the letter from Merseyside Probation. The Registrant has also expressed remorse.

12. However, the Panel was of the view that the Registrant has not yet achieved full insight, and that her insight is still developing. In coming to this decision, the Panel was of the view that her reflections, in various instances, minimise her culpability. This was clear to the Panel in the Registrant’s statements, both in writing and in her answers to the Panel which often focused on factual untruths which she believed had been levelled at her in the criminal process. Further there is a degree of distance between the reflections and herself as an individual. They create an impression of detachment and de-personalisation, and are often overly theoretical. Much of her reflective practice note refers to therapeutic approaches and learning models. Whilst relevant, the Registrant predominantly describes them in theoretical terms and from a third party perspective rather than how they impacted on her personal insight.

13. The Panel took into account the questions from the Fifth Shipman Report set out in the case of Grant and decided that the Registrant has not in the past, nor is she liable in the future, to put service users at unwarranted risk of harm. In coming to this decision, the Panel has taken into account that the conviction relates to events outside work, in the Registrant’s personal life, and there is no suggestion from her line manager that crossing boundaries is a concern that extends to the Registrant’s professional life.

14. However, the Panel was of the view that the Registrant has, by reason of her conviction, based on some three and a half years of inappropriate conduct, brought the profession into disrepute. Further, the Panel is of the view that the Registrant has breached a fundamental tenet of her profession as follows:

“3 You must keep high standards of personal conduct.

You must keep high standards of personal conduct, as well as professional conduct. You should be aware that poor conduct outside of your professional life may still affect someone’s confidence in you and your profession”

(HCPC Standard of conduct, performance and ethics 2012).

15. In light of the fact that there is still work to be done by the Registrant in achieving full insight into her conduct, the Panel was of the view that there is a degree of risk that she will bring the profession into disrepute and breach fundamental tenets in the future. However, in this regard the Panel is of the view that the receipt of a criminal conviction, as well as the HCPC proceedings, have been difficult experiences for the Registrant which go to reducing the risk of such repetition from the level it would have been without such proceedings having occurred.

16. The Panel considered the case of Fleischmann.  It was aware that this case expresses a general principle and that it is does not follow that where there remains a sentence to be served, that this necessitates a finding of impairment. Each case must turn on its own facts and circumstances.

17. The Panel was of the view that the conviction is a serious one. The conduct which led to it was not insignificant in that it continued for over three years. The Community Order continues until April 2018 and the Registrant remains subject to supervision as part of it. The Registrant is also subject to a restraining order. The Panel was of the view that a reasonable member of the public, armed with full knowledge of the case would be concerned that the Registrant remained subject to the criminal sentence in question, despite the fact that it related to her private life. In all the circumstances of the case, the Panel decided that the need to uphold proper professional standards and maintain confidence in the profession would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made in this case.

18. The Panel therefore decided that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired.
Decision on Sanction:

19. The Panel heard submissions from Ms Parry and Mr Henry, took into account the Indicative Sanctions Policy (ISP) and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel was aware that the purpose of sanction is to uphold the public interest, including addressing any public protection concerns. The Panel reminded itself that sanction is a matter for its own independent judgment and that there is no burden of proof on either party in respect of sanction. Further any sanction must be proportionate when considering the actual risks and concerns in this particular case. 

20. The Panel found the following to be mitigating factors:

i. the Registrant’s professional practice has not been called into question;

ii. positive testimonials;

iii. the Registrant’s current line manager speaks highly of her;

iv. expression of remorse;

v. acknowledgment that her conduct caused distress to Person 1;

vi. steps taken by way of remediation;

vii. no previous regulatory concerns.

21. The Panel found the following to be aggravating factors:

i. the Registrant does not yet have full insight;

ii. the Registrant has at times tried to minimise her culpability;

iii. the Registrant engaged in the conduct in question for some three and a half years;

iv. the conviction is a serious matter;

22. The Panel reminded itself that its decision on impairment was on the basis of the public interest, and not on the basis that she presents a risk of harm to service users.

23. The Panel first considered whether to take no action, and decided that this would not be appropriate or proportionate as it would not address the public interest concerns raised in this case.

24. The Panel then considered a Caution Order. In the Panel’s view, this was an appropriate and proportionate sanction. In coming to this conclusion, the Panel took into account a number of factors.

25. While the conduct upon which the conviction is founded was not isolated or a one-off, because it occurred over a number of years, it was in relation to only one person, and there is only one conviction. The Panel has considered the remedial steps undertaken by the Registrant, and while she has been undergoing supervision as part of her Community Order, the Panel accepts she went beyond what was required of her in requesting a referral from her Probation worker to the Turnaround Project, at which she is still receiving support. This suggests to the Panel that the Registrant is committed to remediating her conduct.
26. The Registrant is in the process of developing her insight. The Panel has found that she is at some risk of repetition. However, in light of her efforts to remediate, the good progress she has made, for example as seen in the letter from Merseyside Probation, and as her developing insight, the Panel is of the view that this risk is relatively low.

27.  The Panel has carefully considered paras. 16-19 of the ISP and carefully took into account that there is a remaining term of the Community Order yet to be served by the Registrant. It was of the view that the fact that most of the Community Order has already been served, is relevant to its consideration and was a factor in favour of a Caution Order. Further, it is the public interest rather than a risk to service users which was the basis of the decision on impairment as well as sanction. The Panel was of the view that a Caution Order would be sufficient to address the public interest. While it would not restrict the Registrant’s practice as such, it would serve as a clear mark against the Registrant’s registration for a period of three years. The Panel was of the view that three years would be proportionate in light of the remedial steps taken by the Registrant so far.

28. Further, because there is nothing in the Registrant’s practice giving rise to concern, meaningful practice restrictions are not appropriate. It is for this reason that the Panel rejected the option of conditions of practice as unworkable and inappropriate. Further, in light of the developing insight and the remedial steps taken and the fact that the Registrant is a valued practitioner held in high regard by her line manager, the Panel was of the view that suspension from practice would be disproportionate, punitive and unnecessary to address the public interest.

29. The Panel therefore decided to impose a Caution Order for a period of three years on the basis that it is necessary to uphold and maintain the wider public interest. 


Order

Order: That the Registrar is directed to annotate the register entry of Jenny Parker 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

No notes available

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Dr Jenny Parker

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
04/12/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Caution