Social worker suspended for unlawfully removing child

An off-duty social worker who entered a foster carer’s home and unlawfully removed a child to her own home has been suspended for six months.

The practitioner had “no reasonable excuse” for her actions which had placed herself and the child at risk, according to a General Social Care Council conduct committee.

Registrant sacked following incident

The social worker worked for Derby City Council at the time but the incident took place within the jurisdiction of Stoke-on-Trent Council, with whom she had no professional relationship. She was dismissed from Derby City Council after the incident came to light.

“Intimidating” manner

In her written evidence to a conduct hearing in London, the practitioner claimed she had seen the child walking alone in the street earlier that day. Despite not knowing the child or having any professional connection to the case, she entered the child’s foster carer’s home at 10pm on 8 April 2007 and took the child to her own home.

The committee accepted evidence from the foster carer that the social worker had acted in a “domineering and intimidating” way, causing her to believe something had happened to the child while the child was in her care.

Procedures not followed

She also failed to follow procedure by not informing the relevant social care service prior to the removal, and when the police called at her home to seek the return of the child, she presented as “agitated and loud”.

The committee concluded that the social worker had moved the child from the care of the foster carer without lawful authority, and had failed to offer any reasonable excuse for her actions since the night in question.

Taking into account her previous good record, it found the misconduct amounted to a single incident and issued a six-month suspension from the register.

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