A court has quashed an order that would have forced a social worker to supervise a child sex offender despite her feeling too inexperienced to do so.
In the judgment, Justice Hickinbottom said Swansea Crown Court should reconsider the matter after allowing Swansea council’s request for a judicial review of the decision.
The case arose when a man, referred to as ‘B’ was charged with historical sex offences. By the time of his trial he was suffering from dementia and it was accepted he was unfit to plead.
The case proceeded under section 4A of the Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act 1964. A jury was asked to determine whether, on evidence, they were satisfied that the man did all or any of the acts charged against him as offences.
The jury found the man had done the acts involved in 13 charges of rape of a child under the age of 13 and seven charges of causing a child to engage in sexual activity.
Following the jury’s findings, a court recorder sentenced the man to a two-year supervision order that would have placed him under the supervision of a specific council social worker.
When the social worker and the council became aware of the supervision order they applied for a review. This was on the grounds the social worker had never agreed to be a supervising officer for B and did not feel she was suitable or “appropriately experienced” for the role.
The council argued the supervision order could not lawfully be made under the 1964 act unless the court was satisfied the supervision officer intended to be specified in the order was willing to undertake the supervision. The social worker was unwilling to be B’s supervising officer and there was “no evidence” for the recorder to conclude otherwise, the council said.
The judge said “this point was unanswerable”, adding: “Paragraph 2 of schedule 1A makes the consent of the supervising officer mandatory, before a supervision order can be made. Without such consent, the court has no jurisdiction to make such an order.
“Here, [the social worker] did not consent; and there was no evidential foundation upon which the recorder could properly have made a finding that she did.”
He quashed the supervision order and said the Crown Court should reconsider the matter and determine an appropriate order “on the basis of the jury findings as to the acts done, available assessments of risk and the restricted orders available to the court under section 5 of the 1964 Act.”