Social worker who ‘confused areas of risk’ given a second sanction

The Durham social worker did not attend her first hearing due to emotional and psychological stress

A youth justice social worker who “confused areas of risk” has been given a further year’s suspension from the register for failing to demonstrate that she has remedied her practice.

The County Durham social worker had been employed in the Youth Offending team for four years when concerns were first raised about her management of risk, late submission of reports and use of the council’s case management system.

Records from her first hearing in 2014 reveal she was unable to make the distinction between a young offender’s risk to herself, her risk to others and her risk of reoffending.

‘No explanation’

These are three areas of risk in youth justice that should be considered separately, but the social worker was unable to differentiate between them, the panel heard.

She gave a young person, known as Service User A, a score of 23 out of 48 for her risk of reoffending without any explanation or analysis as to why she had given this score.

A Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) panel earlier this year heard the social worker failed properly to record how the young person, Service User A, viewed her offence.

The social worker in question did not record Service User A’s previous offences or how she had responded to interventions.

Another young person, known as Service User C, told the social worker he had contemplated suicide and she did not put into place the appropriate plan, the panel heard.

‘Absent evidence’

She received two written warnings before being put through a capability hearing and dismissed in June 2012. She was referred to a fitness to practise hearing in March 2014, at which time she said she was unable to attend due to the emotional and psychological stress it would put her through.

In the 12 months since she was first suspended, the social worker has not put forward any evidence for consideration by the regulator.

The record of the HCPC’s decision stated: “in the absence of any evidence from the registrant that she has addressed the shortcomings in her practice, the panel should conclude her fitness to practise remains impaired”.

The social worker will now be suspended from the register for a total of 24 months, and face the “real possibility” of losing her title at a subsequent review hearing.

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