An experienced social worker who was banned from practice in 2010 after he made sexually inappropriate comments to strangers during a night out has been allowed to rejoin the register.
Police received reports in the early hours of 10 April 2008 that a man describing himself as a social worker had approached young women in Argyle Street, Birkenhead, and asked whether he could “piss in their mouths”.
It was alleged that the social worker, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had also admitted using cocaine earlier that night, although he later denied this. The police warned him about his future conduct but he was not arrested.
Following an investigation, the General Social Care Council’s conduct committee found the social worker had committed misconduct, and removed him from the register.
The committee said: “The behaviour was of such a nature and degree as to cause dismay to members of the public and, by virtue of its serious departure from the relevant standards in the code [of practice], would bring the social work profession into disrepute.”
But the man appealed to the First-tier (Care Standards) Tribunal. At a hearing in Liverpool on 18 May, the tribunal upheld the GSCC’s finding of misconduct, but said the regulator’s sanction had been “too severe”.
Tribunal judge Maureen Roberts said: “On the balance of probabilities we find that the applicant did make lewd and improper suggestions to young women in Argyle Street, Birkenhead, in the early hours of 10 April 2008.”
But she added: “In all the circumstances of this case we conclude that the sanction applied was too severe.
“The applicant is a mature man who has been working as a social worker since 1995 with no previous concerns about his professional work.”
Roberts pointed out that the social worker’s behaviour had not been repeated and did not directly involve service users.
She also criticised the GSCC’s handling of the case as “less than fair”. Ten months after he was referred to the GSCC, the social worker was informed that no further action would be taken. Six months after that, the GSCC told him it was reopening the case.
Roberts concluded: “In view of the overall length of time that the applicant has had this matter hanging over him and the sanction of an interim suspension order and then removal dating back to January 2010, we are allowing the appeal.”
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