A Social Worker has been suspended from practice after it was revealed he had obstructed a Social Services investigation into potential allegations of child abuse by not providing details of children to St Helens Children & Young Peoples Service (CYPS).

It is also claimed that he used his professional Social Work qualification and Adult Social Work position with Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council to attempt to unduly influence St Helens CYPS’s investigation.

Background

The Social Worker had communicated from his work email address to St Helens CYPS expressing support for and denying the potential risk of an adult who it was thought could pose a risk to children and who was connected to his family.

The adult in question had an allegations of serious sexual abuse made against him and St Helen’s CYPS had advised that he did not spend time with children alone.

Within that correspondence, the Social Worker named three of his grandchildren and said he would continue to allow this adult to see them, even though the assessment of his risk had not been completed or concluded.  The risk this person posed to the children was therefore unknown.

This prompted the St Helens CYPS Team Manager to contact the Social Worker in question by telephone as they had no information on these three children. Again, the Social Worker refused to provide any information to the Social Work Team.

The HCPC Panel were critical of the Social Worker during the hearing.

It described the Social Worker’s failure to provide details of his grandchildren during the telephone call as ‘deplorable’. He also had deliberately included his work details, which could have led the recipients to believe that he was acting in an official capacity and therefore was an attempt to apply undue influence.

Outcome

The panel concluded that they remained concerned as they had no current information from the Social Worker demonstrating any training or development activity undertaken by him, his reflection on the incidents or his development of insight.  There was no indication that he understood the seriousness of obstructing a child safeguarding inquiry, even some months after the event.

Having considered the seriousness of the incident, the risk to the public and the reputation of the profession, the panel was satisfied that a finding of impairment was appropriate. The HCPC concluded that such behaviour amounted to misconduct and therefore his fitness to practice was impaired.

Learning

As Social Workers, we are taught from day one that our primary role (or focus) involves promoting and safeguarding the welfare of those in need – The public and societies most vulnerable.

It is unclear as to the Social Workers motives in this case not to share the relevant details – he may simply have wanted to protect his family. However, in doing so, he put his own grandchildren at risk of harm and has damaged his professional credentials. Furthermore, as a qualified worker, he would have known or at least understood that in doing so he was impeding in the completion of a mandatory safeguarding enquiry.