A social worker has been struck off after she was cautioned by police for wilfully neglecting a child in her care.
The social worker, who worked in a children’s home, was given a police caution for an offence under the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 after she left a seven-year-old overnight alone in a hotel while she went out drinking. She and her brother had taken the child to Plymouth following a family bereavement.
At 10:30pm on the night of the incident, the social worker and her brother left the child in the hotel room to drink in the hotel bar. She then left the bar for another, and later spent the night with a person she met there.
The police were alerted at 9am the next morning by hotel staff after the child told reception they had woken up alone. The social worker accepted the caution the police gave her for neglect.
The crime, in section one of the Children and Young Person’s Act 1933, was for being over 16 years old and “having responsibility for a child or young person under that age, wilfully assaulted, ill-treated, neglected, abandoned or exposed the said child in a manner likely to cause him unnecessary suffering or injury to health”.
This is not the same as David Cameron’s controversial proposals to jail social workers for wilful neglect, unveiled earlier this year, as this happened in the social worker’s personal rather than professional life. However, the regulator said the failing “was a serious one and was behaviour that was relevant to, albeit outside of, the Registrant’s professional practice”.
The social worker did not attend the hearing and was fired from her job as a children’s services worker at the charity Action for Children, for gross misconduct. The HCPC disciplinary panel concluded she had shown “limited insight into what she did and the potential consequences of it”.
“Furthermore, there has been virtually no engagement with the HCPC,” the panel stated.
The social worker told the HCPC that attending the hearing would take her back to a “dark place”, when she was getting her life back together. She said she had no intention of practising again.
“The Panel has concluded that the Registrant’s serious behaviour, coupled with an absence of evidence of insight and a desire to remediate, results in a position where her status is incompatible with continued registration as a social worker,” the judgement found.