Social worker struck off for wilful neglect of child in her care

A social worker was cautioned by police for leaving a child in her care alone overnight

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.

Wilful 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.

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10 Responses to Social worker struck off for wilful neglect of child in her care

  1. Andrew Grant September 23, 2015 at 12:12 pm #

    This is a horrible story and If the account of the neglect is true then the person concerned should be struck off .
    It would be nice to hear some good practise stories as bad news seems to be the hunger of the media. We need to stop feeding it. As for Cameron’s controversial proposals to jail social workers for wilful neglect, he needs to lead by example and take the yard brush to his cronies first!

  2. George Bragan September 23, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

    I agree with Mr Grant in regard to the positives that social workers do which is, above and beyond their duty. trying to ensure the safety of children working through the days and the nights to acheive for the good of the children. It would also be interesting if there where stories from children post their experince of care.

  3. Mark Hatter September 23, 2015 at 2:30 pm #

    Given that Community Care is a publication for social care professionals, whilst the above story is of interest, how difficult would it be to publish stories that celebrate our profession and our successes. I am tired of the media and now more frequently judges, highlighting the problems of a few. Our jobs are hard enough as they are without beating ourselves over the head. There are countless children up and down the country who are now safe due to the work of social workers.

    • Judy Cooper September 23, 2015 at 5:19 pm #

      Hi Mark
      Thanks for your comment. As part of our Stand Up for Social Work campaign we’re always looking for social worker’s stories of how they have changed service users lives for the better or a story that could inspire other social workers. If you have a case like this and would like to write about it we’d be happy to publish it. Do get in touch –

  4. Karen September 23, 2015 at 6:57 pm #

    I’m struggling to believe this is true!
    Did this happen recently?
    Why did a residential-based social worker take a child to a hotel?
    What was the social worker thinking? Furthermore, state of mind?
    This situation is not a reflection of social work practice. Personal or professional, Of course it falls in line with Cameron’s proposal.

  5. Sim mck September 24, 2015 at 7:42 am #

    While this SW was rightly cautioned and sacked my mind instantly went to the McCanns! Is this not what they did and yet there has been millions thrown at them and no formal arrest….better still they still remain in their professions!

    This story is only highlighted because of her job not her stupidity!

    • Alec September 24, 2015 at 12:59 pm #

      Totally agree with this sentiment!!!!

    • Michele Winter September 26, 2015 at 7:41 pm #

      Totally agree and that was my first thought too. Social worker did wrong and has been rightly punished. So did McCanns but when I’ve tried to discuss their case in social work circles I’ve been accused of being “judgemental”. Umm the power of the middle classes and professionals such as GP’s.

  6. Gill Sandwith September 24, 2015 at 8:44 am #

    It unnerves me that this article reflects common community concerns about social workers. That we neglect the children in our care. It is only evident in one line and down within the article that this indecent was not entirely work related. It states it occurred in her personal life. It can give the impression that a social worker on duty neglected a child entrusted in her care by her place of employment.

    It might be more correct to say that a woman was cautioned about the neglect of a child because she left that child alone in a hotel. That woman is as also a social worker who has been struck off the HCPC register. Perhaps that might not be as newsworthy though.

    • Lara September 25, 2015 at 8:41 am #

      I agree wholeheartedly with your comments Gill. I had to re-read the article to confirm that the incident was not even work-related. The article really should have been clear to explore how an individual’s private life can affect their ability to practise.

      The headline and the way this article is written are the sort of clickbait that we’d expect from a tabloid newspaper, not a publication for social care professionals.