Social worker who texted son in prison suspended by the HCPC

A Merton social worker has been suspended from the HCPC register for sending texts to her son who was scared about serving time

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.

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7 Responses to Social worker who texted son in prison suspended by the HCPC

  1. Chokwadi October 8, 2014 at 8:09 pm #

    If it were me I would have voluntarily removed my name from the register. My child comes before my registration with the HCPC.

  2. Concerned Foster Mother October 9, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

    Agree with Chokwadi. I am a social worker and foster carer and my concern for any of my children would come first. I would resign until my child was free. Prison is tough. If the person had been an estate agent nothing would have happened to that parent.

  3. Charlotte Peters Rock October 9, 2014 at 6:01 pm #

    I do hope that this sudden concern on the part of HCPC, to block social workers who act against the law, will also be continued in the Rotherham, Doncaster and other areas, where actions in refusing to safeguard vulnerable children are a national disgrace?

    It needs also to be continued in respect of poor, scrappy and vindictive social care record making. Go to it HCPC!

    If social workers are made fully accountable for their own and their line actions, the reputation of the profession will be lifted out of the mud, where poor work has placed it.

    Then perhaps the really good and caring social workers can be allowed to get on with their work unhindered?

  4. Charles Huddleston October 10, 2014 at 9:37 am #

    Agree up to a point with the above. Except the judge might have been rather less lenient on an estate agent.

  5. Petal October 10, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

    If she was aware of the strict policy re mobile phones in prisons, I agree she should have resigned rather than put herself in that position, but I do feel its a very harsh judgement for a mum who must have been very worried about her son. Like the poster above says, if she had been in another profession, nothing would have happened to her. Social workers must constantly be thinking about what they can and can’t do in professional and personal lives, but are only human beings…

  6. Phe October 11, 2014 at 7:42 am #

    It appears the mother was aware that mobile phones in prisons are illegal. I can imagine the torment she felt about her son not coping with prison life. Considering she should remorse for her actions and was of a good reputation before, I would of hoped that she could of been shown some compassion.

    I am a parent first and a social worker second. Upholding the law is above both of this roles and I would of found some other way to communicate with him to provide the support he urgently needed. Wishing the social worker all the best for the future. It’s tough out there.

  7. Clare Gibb October 12, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

    It seems a decision lacking in any compassion, which also seems to expect a social worker parent to desert his or her child in their hour of need. It also seems to have wrecked the family.

    A win all round!