A social worker who admitted breaching the General Social Care Council’s code of practice by failing to disclose full details of her criminal past was given a caution last week.
Bernice Mary Francois, 50, a palliative care social worker employed by Tower Hamlets Council, was admonished by the conduct committee, which said that details should remain on her record for two years.
The committee decided not to suspend or remove Francois from the register because her convictions were up to 30 years ago when she was experiencing “exceptional difficulty and turbulence” in her life.
It also took into account the fact Francois has worked as a social worker for 13 years and had “glowing” character testimonials from people including Lee Jasper, director of policy and policing in the office of London mayor Ken Livingstone.
The committee said Francois’ application for registration would probably have been granted if she had declared details of the convictions, given they were so old.
Francois was convicted of eight offences, including theft and criminal damage, from 1976-86, but only included three of them on her registration form in February 2005.
She told the conduct committee there had not been enough space on the form to include details of all her convictions. She said she had a “difficult start in life” but “social work gave me the chance to be useful in the world”.
Francois qualified as a social worker in 1993 and joined Tower Hamlets. But she said she had not disclosed any details of past
convictions on her application because she feared she would not be interviewed.
Her convictions were discovered when she had an enhanced Criminal Records Bureau check but the council decided not to take any action.
However, a human resources manager later noticed a discrepancy between the details Francois had included on her GSCC application and those on the CRB check.
The council said this week it was “satisfied she recognises the seriousness of her actions.”
Admonishment: what next?