A social worker has been suspended for 12 months for inappropriate behaviour, including staring at a 16-year-old girl’s breasts and asking her if she had whips and chains hidden in her wardrobe.
The behaviour took place between July 2009 and January 2010 when Christopher Mark Flatman, 50, was employed through an agency as a children’s services social worker at Hillingdon Council in London.
Flatman admitted to some of the allegations, including offering to meet the 16-year-old on a Saturday despite it being outside his working hours, and befriending her and a younger sister on social networking site Facebook, the General Social Care Council heard.
But Flatman’s legal representative accused the young woman, now 18, of making some of the other allegations up at the request of her older brother, who wanted Flatman taken off the family’s case. It was said the boy feared being removed from the family home because of his challenging behaviour.
The GSCC’s conduct committee rejected this argument based on evidence from the girl and other family members. Instead, it found Flatman had behaved inappropriately on a number of occasions, including when he offered to take the girl to a café and for a ride in his car.
Flatman prolonged visits when the girl was present and, on one occasion, asked her to rub clean a chocolate stain from his trousers. He also requested a picture of her in a party dress and advised her to withhold sex from her boyfriend, with whom she was having problems.
When the girl told him of her fear of needles while talking about a doctor’s visit to give blood, Flatman said: “I’ll tie you down and prod it in you.”
The complaints were investigated by social workers and police, but no criminal proceedings were brought against Flatman.
However, the committee did not believe his behaviour was sexually motivated and the family acknowledged that there had been some positive aspects to his work.
It concluded the misconduct was not serious enough to justify removal from the register. Deciding instead to ban Flatman from practice for 12 months, the committee said: “Suspension is a signal to the social worker, the profession and the public as to what is regarded as unacceptable behaviour.”
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