Tricia Forbes qualified as a social worker in 1999 and is also a practice teacher. She was employed by Waltham Forest council, in east London, as a deputy team manager.
On 5 May 2005, Forbes attended the first day of a two-day training course. She rang the office after 4pm, when the course had ended, and her manager asked her to return because she needed help with two crises.
When she got back to the office, Forbes spoke to the manager, who asked her to help a social work assistant with the case, which involved a 13-year-old girl who had disclosed physical abuse by her father.
The girl, known as A, had been on the child protection register with siblings B and C for two years previously. Her grandmother had contacted the department to complain saying they had “washed their hands” of A.
Forbes spoke to the girl, who said she did not want to go home, and then Forbes, A and two other workers drove to the child’s home. Forbes has said that it was unncessary for three workers to speak to the parents so she decided not to go. She gave a work mobile number to her colleagues but did not take their numbers.
Forbes then dropped the girl off, after she said she wanted to return a jacket to a friend. Forbes maintains she then returned to the office to speak to the manager and to tell her she would be training the following day. However, the manager has said this did not happen.
The following day, a Friday, Forbes was on a training course.
At the beginning of the next week a referral came in after A was admitted to hospital. After sleeping at a friend’s house on 5 May she had then gone missising for four days. She was taken to hospital with alcohol poisoning.
A strategy meeting was convened, which Forbes chaired, but she failed to inform other professionals of her previous involvement.
The mistakes came to light and the council appointed group director Julie Penny to carry out an investigation into what happened. Forbes was intially put on restricted duties but, following a disciplinary hearing in January 2006, she was dismissed. She was reinstated in appeal in May 2006 but to a demoted role.
The council’s human resources department then lodged a complaint about Forbes in June 2006.