‘Voyeur’ social worker who filmed up women’s skirts is barred

wpid-conduct-logo-top-slot.gif

A senior social worker who used a hidden camera to film up women’s skirts for “his own sexual gratification” has been struck off.

Michael Bird, 55, who had experience of working with survivors of sexual abuse, admitted approaching the women in four different public places in Newcastle using an adapted tennis racquet bag with a digital camera concealed inside. He later downloaded the videos, which lasted for several minutes each, onto his personal computer.

A conduct committee of the General Social Care Council concluded that despite glowing references from colleagues, and an “excellent” record in social work stretching back 25 years, Bird’s behaviour was “fundamentally incompatible” with his responsibilities as a practitioner.

The committee described his actions as “a serious violation of women’s privacy, being both degrading and humiliating”. The individuals concerned “would have been horrified to learn that they had been filmed in such a way”, the committee added.

Bird did not attend the hearing in London but admitted all of the offences, which took place over a two-day period in June 2008 in four shops in the Newcastle area: a Tesco store in Kingston Park; Sainsbury’s in Gosforth High Street; River Island in Eldon Square; and Fenwick department store in Newcastle city centre.

He was sacked by North Tyneside Council following an internal investigation in August 2008 and received a police caution for voyeurism in relation to the incidents in February this year.

When asked to explain his actions, he told his employer he had been showing his son how to use a video recorder for a school project, adding that he “had previously seen videos on the internet of up women’s skirts and wondered how it could work”.

But in a statement submitted to the conduct committee, Bird said his actions were driven by a curiosity to see whether he was able to gain the footage without the women’s consent after talking about a voyeuristic website with a friend.

The committee said it was “unconvinced by these conflicting explanations” and noted that he told a police officer he carried out the filming for his own personal sexual gratification.

The fact that he did it on more than one occasion disproved his claim that it was a one-off incident driven by curiosity, the committee concluded.

“The behaviour was brought to a halt because he was caught,” the chairman said in a statement. “It is not known what would have happened had he not been caught on the second occasion.”

A spokesperson for North Tyneside Council said: “This former employee was dismissed in August 2008 after an internal investigation about the incident and the matter was referred to the General Social Care Council. “

Related articles

Social worker who lied about her child’s injuries is struck off

Social worker suspended after sexual relationship with client

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.