A social worker who failed to follow child protection procedures, placing a teenage girl at risk, has shown no remorse and offered no apology, a General Social Care Council conduct committee heard today.
Tricia Forbes, who was employed as a deputy team manager at Waltham Forest Council, east London, and is a qualified practice teacher, has admitted she did not instigate a child protection investigation after a teenage girl disclosed physical abuse. She has also admitted failing to inform the police and share information on the case.
The 13-year-old girl later went missing for four days after Forbes failed to follow instructions to take her home, instead leaving her at the side of the road. The girl, known as A, was then admitted to hospital after drinking stolen vodka.
Family known to social services
A and two younger siblings had been known to social services for almost two years before she reported the abuse, in May 2005. Their names had been put on the child protection register but were removed just months before A had sought help after suffering a head wound. She had made 15 earlier complaints about her father.
Giving evidence at the GSCC hearing today, Julie Penny, who carried out an internal investigation, said Forbes’ conduct was “the most serious case of failing to safeguard a child I have ever seen”. She said Forbes “chose to walk away from her directions to take the child home and failed to follow basic common sense procedures”.
Penny added that Forbes later chose not to inform other agencies of her involvement in the case when she chaired a strategy meeting following the admission to hospital. Her actions meant other professionals were misinformed and A’s siblings were put at potential risk.
“She could have said she had made a mistake. She is the one person who did not show any remorse in any way and offered no apology”, said Penny. She added that A, who was later put in care, had suffered placement breakdowns and assaulted her next social worker because she found it difficult to trust people.
Working together to safeguard children