Social worker suspended again despite domestic violence plea

HCPC concludes a further sanction is warranted because the social worker showed no evidence of remedying her conduct

sad woman
Social worker "feared reprisal" Photo: REX/WestEnd61

A social worker, suspended after a domestic dispute, has been given a further year’s suspension for failing to show remorse, despite telling the panel she had been a victim of domestic violence.

The social worker was employed by Durham County Council when the  police were called to her home on two occasions to deal with altercations between her and her then partner.

At the first hearing, which led to a twelve month suspension in 2013, the social worker made written submissions detailing the extent to which she had been subjected to domestic violence.

A Health and Care Professions (HCPC) panel was told the social worker’s misconduct involved being intoxicated, verbally abusive and obstructive to police who were called out to her home.

She also told the police she was responsible for throwing a dustpan and brush over the fence towards her neighbour’s house, when in fact it was her partner.

The HCPC judgement reported the social worker had given evidence that “she was in fear of reprisals from him if she did not take the blame for the incident”.

The social worker added that she had been subjected to a prolonged period of violence by her partner.

However, the panel concluded “the misconduct included dishonesty and [she] did not have insight into how her behaviour in her private life could damage the reputation of the social work profession”.

The panel said she did not submit evidence of remedying her conduct.

“Anything less than a suspension order would not provide the requisite level of public protection,” the panel concluded.

The social worker has been further suspended until December 2015.

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22 Responses to Social worker suspended again despite domestic violence plea

  1. DAVID November 24, 2014 at 11:28 am #

    Utterly disgraceful behaviour by HCPC. Social Workers are people like any other and to expect them too be absolutely perfect is futile and unfair. Clearly Domestic Violence was a factor as was Alcoho but she caused no issues for her clients as far as we are aware. I can say with some certanty that Social Workers do get drunk and as a result may regret their actions the next moring. It does not mean they are unfit to do Social Work. The HPPC is rapidly evolving into a modern witch finder general, burning those who make minor mistakes at the stake. This Social Worker should not have been suspended from her employment. The lesson here is you must be perfect at all times, do not expect to have any private life if you are a Social Worker. This is a clear abuse of power by the HCPC who appear to have no accountability whatsoever to anyone other then their political masters.

    • j November 24, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

      i totally agree with david – this is disgraceful and has only abused the woman further – she ought to be supported not punished like this – incredible that we work for the caring profession yet experience very little understanding and tolerance of our own staff who may be going through domestic abuse. SHOCKING AND VERY WORRYING…..

  2. G Hall November 24, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

    This is fundamentally unjust. A social worker is subject to a double jeopardy. Lose job because a good or bad reason then lose livelihood because the employer refers her. Presumably police referred her to her employer. There seems plenty of evidence that the police do not lose their jobs for minor infractions, including drunk and disorderly (I have been to a number of functions in police clubs). Don’t know the full circumstances of this but it hardly adds anything positive to the efforts to combat domestic violence. Do we think that if somebody is Arrested(not convicted) for domestic violence they should lose their job?

  3. Mark Highfield November 24, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

    Perhaps we need to chart challenging HCPC’s authority now. Clearly there is a gross misuse of power, which in this line of work, is unnaceptable.

    • Carrie November 24, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

      Think you will find they are there to protect the British public, they are there to protect the title and those that commit fraud saying their a social worker when they are not registered i know first hand as i have had 6 social workers that are not registered tell me they are social workers thus commiting fraud !! Social care are the ones that abuse their powers get facts straight before mouthing off

  4. Karen Challinor November 24, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

    Some social workers are exercising gross misuse of powers every day in their line of work, it would appear from the comments above it is not liked when misuse of powers are used against social workers double standards I would call it !

  5. michelle November 24, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

    Double standards, some use incidents like this to remove children from homes, so why is it right to remove a child from a similar possible one time event, and it’s unjust for social worker to be suspended, again Its ok for them to get drunk but parents have the odd night out and labelled alcoholics by some social workers, you can’t have double standards you cant say its unfair that sw been suspended, then go to work the following day a remove children for exactly the same reason, people could argue that’s its unfair that a parent lost there child, I’m not saying all social workers are like this there are some very very good ones out there but they tend to be the ones that have been in the job a very long time, my comment is not ment to offend people it’s just my view

  6. Carrie November 24, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

    To be completely honest the HCPC are there for a reason and if they hear that a social worker is commiting purjury it then raises questions over every single case that she has been involved in as it shows that this social worker has no respect for the british justice system and if she has lied about something so petty what else has she lied about. She should be struck off simple as !!

  7. Ally November 24, 2014 at 7:21 pm #

    If you want to be regarded as professionals, with the requisite financial benefit, you need to act professionally.
    It comes to something when even social workers avoid accepting responsibility for their own behaviour, and play the victim card.
    Even more astounding is colleagues appear to be wholeheartedly supporting her.
    Wake up, take remedial action and make a change.
    How on earth do you expect to encourage and support clients to address issues and make positive change if you can’t yourself.

  8. Linda November 24, 2014 at 9:41 pm #

    the more I read about the reasons people are suspended or deregulated for the less confident I feel about the hcpc. They really are ott sometimes. Those people who think that it’s ok to judge in this way can’t possibly be decent social workers.

  9. Linda November 24, 2014 at 9:44 pm #

    the more I read about the reasons people are suspended or deregegistered for the less confident I feel about the hcpc. They really are ott sometimes. Those people who think that it’s ok to judge in this way can’t possibly be decent social workers.

  10. Rosie November 24, 2014 at 11:53 pm #

    I think that this is an outrages decision by the hcpc. It leaves me feeling terrified. I promise that i will do my job to the best of my ability as i have always done. I will continue to work more hours than i should (as we all do!!), my leisure time will now be spent in my home with the doors locked, the curtains drawn, and my phone switched off for fear of upsetting someone. Oh and i promise not to speak to anyone on my way to and from work incase i disagree with their opinions, because i might be viewed as being argumentative or worse!!!! When/where will it all end?

  11. Sarah November 25, 2014 at 8:05 am #

    I feel I cannot comment on this case as I do not know all the information, however it worries me that Carrie .. You stated .. How can she lie over something so petty .. I hope you are not a social worker, because if you are, you need to educate yourself further on domestic abuse and David, you bring up an extremely relevant point.. Who are the HCPC accountable to?

  12. Snowha November 25, 2014 at 5:49 pm #

    Its unclear from the article whether we are reading everything that she was alleged to have done or just a selection. If the suspension was based on being intoxicated on 2 occasions when not ‘on duty’ then it seems unjust and over the top. However if it includes being intoxicated at work and being unable to practice safely due to issues in her personal life then it is right that she is at least temporarily removed from a position in which service users, colleagues and her own safety is compromised. The employer does have a duty of care and should ideally have a policy relating to employees effected by domestic abuse.

    • Rachel Schraer November 26, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

      Hi,
      Thanks for commenting.
      There is no mention in the HCPC hearing that the social worker committed any misconduct at work- all of the allegations relate to her personal life.

      Rachel
      Journalist- Community Care

  13. Dave Hollis November 26, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

    So, the HCPC have further suspended her for “not submitting evidence of her remedying her conduct”, but the article states there were altercations between her and her then partner. Therefore the then implies she has since got rid of him, which is exactly what Social Workers ask a parent to do when there is a long pattern of domestic violence, to take action to protect their child (and themselves). Is that not evidence enough for the HCPC? Maybe the HCPC have evidence that she has continued to see him, or go out and get drunk and abuse neighbours, or do they expect her to get a reference from the police to say she has not come to their attention in the past 12 months???

  14. Keith Rotimi November 26, 2014 at 8:54 pm #

    Not sure of all the details but Seriouly? SW upsets the Police by being belligerent. What does she expect? We are all aware of the bias within this profession and other professions such as the Police. Thie SW did not fully cooperate with the Police during this incident of DV, she was seen to be intoxicated and there had been a verbal and physical altercation. Police must have relished in the fact that she was a SW. Was the LADO informed? Was the decision to report her the the HCPC made there?
    Everyone in a position of authority has a duty to ensure their behaviour at all times is appropriate. Yes I know we are human, and my foibles are as flawed as everyone else’s. However, to direct parents the next day to change their behaviour is hypocritical and unfair. Were children involved? We do not know at this stage. However, If the SW was experiencing DV, she had all the relevant knowledge and experience to seek support and break this cycle.
    Unfortunately this Government has replaced one unacceptable quango for another. The lesson from this has to be mind your behaviour and don’t get caught.

  15. Emma Howard November 26, 2014 at 9:21 pm #

    I find this kind of response from the HCPC somewhat chilling.

    As a profession, social work has often struggled to deal with delicate balance between the needs of women as victims of violence and those of their children to be protected from exposure to that violence. We have, as a rule, been too far on the victim-blaming side using language such as “she lacks insight” “she failed to protect” etc. and when the woman in question is also a professional, we often struggle to deal with this paradox we create of someone who is charged with protecting children who cant protect her own. As a result, the response the profession gives our own colleagues in their time of need is often punitive and oppressive whereby the person needing support is marginalised and blamed for their own victimisation.

    The HCPC in this ruling in particular appear to have gone beyond that and are acting in an increasingly inappropriate manner, in my opinion. The fact that she is reported to have been obstructive to police (often not known for their supportive stance towards victims of domestic violence) whilst in the midst of an incident that required the police to be called, should really not be used to castigate her. If the Police are unable to deal with distressed members of the public, they should re-evaluate their career choices. That is of course not to say that they deserve to be abused, they don’t, but they should expect an amount of distress from someone who has experienced abuse.

    The part that really gets me is the charge of dishonesty. “She also told the police she was responsible for throwing a dustpan and brush over the fence towards her neighbour’s house, when in fact it was her partner.” This is it? She took responsibility for something her partner did? And that is dishonesty requiring her to be suspended from practicing as a social worker? Good grief! I could accept it if she blamed something she did on someone else, but the fact that she took responsibility for her partner’s actions in no way brings our profession into disrepute.

    What does bring us into disrepute, are blatant, punitive and oppressive responses to examples of people’s victimisation of the likes that we should be empowering and protecting them. Examples such as this, where the victim is blamed, further victimised and prevented from practicing in her chosen career path. The HCPC are acting in a disproportionately punitive manner and I am appalled at some of the judgements from them I am reading recently. None more so than this.

  16. Tony Dougan November 27, 2014 at 9:51 am #

    Hello,
    I would tend to agree with all the comments so far. Domestic Abuse requires sensitivity and understanding and support. This HCPC appears to have lost the confidence of the majority of Social Work Professionals with little emotional integrity in terms of their decision making-and we’re paying for this!
    Unbelievable.

    • tanya Hawkins November 27, 2014 at 8:02 pm #

      The problem is that the HCPC manage health professionals and social work is a different profession for them to understand and manage. I agree with the above comments and where is the protection for workers.

  17. Lorraine November 28, 2014 at 12:25 am #

    I often shudder when I read the stupid reasons the HCPC suspend social workers. I wonder if they have any idea of what we really do and how hard the job is. As for the woman. She had parted from her partner. I think that’s taking the right step forward. How dare she be human and be a social worker !!

  18. Maxine December 4, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

    I too shudder at the response of the HCPC. They should take a look at how Lawyers and police behave out of work. I agree that all professionals must be responsible people but if the suspension is based on that which is stated, social workers must be prepared to challenge their decision as a group. Their response is punitive and oppressive they should try living the life of social workers rather than just pushing papers!