A social worker found guilty of texting her son who was serving time in prison has been suspended from the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) register.
The social worker, who was employed by the London Borough of Merton, was convicted in March this year of ‘causing transmission of an image or sound from inside a prison for simultaneous reception outside’ and sentenced to a 15 month suspended sentence. Mobile phones are not permitted to offenders serving their sentences in prison.
As a result of replying to a series of texts from her son about how frightened he was in prison, the social worker in question was dismissed from her job on grounds of gross misconduct. She subsequently separated from her partner with whom she had brought up the son.
Her partner was found guilty of an additional charge of conspiracy to supply the son with a mobile phone.
The social worker had no knowledge of any conspiracy to supply phones to inmates in the prison and the judge found she had been “motivated by concern for her son and not by a means to supply mobile telephones to the prison inmates.”
The panel recognised that the social worker felt deep remorse, shame and embarrassment for her actions and that she had a clean record of conduct previously. However given the gravity of the situation, and the length of the criminal sentence, it was seen as inappropriate to allow her to continue to practise while she was subject to a suspended court sentence.
Her line of work should have meant she was aware that her actions were illegal and inappropriate.
The panel said: “[she] acted without consideration of the consequences of her actions and thereby brought the profession of social work into disrepute by her illegal acts, which should have been known to her.
“The conviction demonstrated that the registrant’s actions at the time were rash, reckless and done without thought as to the consequences for herself and her son, as well as for her profession.”
The social worker has been suspended from the register for 12 months.