A child protection social worker who read a book during court proceedings has been struck off.
The social worker was given a conditions of practice order in 2014 after he admitted to reading a fiction book during care proceedings involving one of his service users.
Reviewing the order this month, a committee found he should be removed from the register as he’d shown “no intention or commitment” to address his misconduct and instead indicated he wanted to quit the profession.
The social worker concealed the book “with an orange cover” inside his work diary during care proceedings in 2013. A lawyer for the family noticed he was reading it throughout a day when the service user’s parents were giving court evidence. The lawyer later claimed the social worker had shown a “total disinterest” during two days of proceedings.
Loss of confidence
When cross-examined in the court, the social worker admitted to reading the book. The judge found the parties in the case had a “significant loss of confidence” in the social worker as a result of his actions and ordered he should be replaced on the case.
When the social worker’s local authority investigated the incident, he initially denied that he’d read the book throughout proceedings and claimed he’d only read it during breaks. But he later admitted “I was reading the book for the majority of the day whilst at the same time taking notes”, adding: “I am aware my actions were unacceptable”.
The social worker was dismissed by the council and went on to work as a family support worker. The 2014 HCPC conduct panel found his actions amounted to “serious” misconduct as they caused the parties in the proceedings to lose confidence in him and the need for him to be replaced on the case “would have adverse consequences” for the child.
At a review of the conditions of practice order held this month, a committee made the striking off order after noting the social worker had disengaged with the process.
“He has chosen not to submit any evidence for this panel, he has expressly stated that he no longer wishes to practice as a social worker and said that he did not care about the outcome of the voluntary removal hearing, which was ultimately abandoned,” it found.