A social worker has been suspended for not reporting a case of sexual activity between two children aged under 13, in breach of national child protection guidance.
Timothy Wilson was barred from practice for six months by a General Social Care Council conduct committee for putting the children at increased risk after he was notified of the incident on 26 May 2010.
He blamed his failings on stress and an excessive caseload, though the committee heard that the father of one of the children had told Wilson that he did not want the matter taken further.
Wilson, then a senior practitioner at Staffordshire Council, did not disclose the sexual activity to colleagues until 2 July. The GSCC committee found he had committed misconduct by failing to notify his line manager in good time, not making an assessment of the children, one of whom was on a child protection plan and the other was unknown to social services, and not conducting enquiries into two other children who were also present at the time.
The national Working together to safeguard children guidance stipulates that cases of sexual activity involving children aged under 13 should be reported to a “nominated child protection lead in the organisation”.
Wilson also breached Staffordshire’s own safeguarding procedures, which states that a full assessment must be undertaken of sexually active young people aged under 13.
Wilson did not attend the conduct hearing but in written evidence said he had felt stressed, had an excessive caseload and felt unable to approach his manager due to interpersonal issues.
However, based on other evidence, the committee concluded he did not have an excessive caseload at the time, and, in any case, he should have reported the fact that he was struggling with his workload and was stressed to managers. It also found that his level of supervision was appropriate and that he had the opportunity to disclose the incident at a supervision session on 16 June.
It concluded: “[Wilson] appeared to assess this case as one involving ‘sexual exploration’ without any discussion with others more senior than him.”
Having made notes of the incident, the committee said he should have “expeditiously shared that information with senior management, the police or other relevant agencies”.
Wilson had an 18-year record of working in social care, had no previous disciplinary findings on his record and some of his work had been shown to other social workers as examples of good practice.
However, the committee concluded that this was insufficient mitigation to avoid suspension.