Social worker cautioned for theft is suspended by HCPC

Regulator suspends social worker after she received police caution for theft

Published on 22nd August 2017

The Health and Care Professions Council has suspended a social worker who received a caution for theft.

Joanne Leach accepted a Police Caution for theft in relation to an incident regarding items taken from Sainsbury’s Supermarket totalling £491.00.

Mrs Leach was a social worker with Norfolk County Counci when the offence occurred in January 2016. Her employer referred her to the HCPC by her employer in February 2016.

The HCPC Panel accepted the evidence in the Simple Caution Declaration signed by Mrs Leach, the statements from the signed statements from the security guard and the police officer. The Panel accordingly found the allegation proved.

Miss Jones for the HCPC told the Panel that Mrs Leach had sought to de-register from the social work register and had previously expressed an intention not to practise as a social worker in the future.

On 11 December 2016 Mrs Leach had indicated in a letter to the HCPC that she would like an opportunity to be able to go back into social work. However, the HCPC has received nothing further from Mrs Leach since that date, despite further contact being made by the HCPC.

The Panel noted that Mrs Leach chose not to attend this hearing or make any submissions beyond her letter to the HCPC in December 2016. The Panel had no evidence of Mrs Leach’s current circumstances and no evidence of insight, remorse or any steps taken by her to remediate her fitness to practise. The Panel has seen no evidence of any apology from her and noted that she gave different explanations about the incident to the security guard, police and then to her employer. She has, however, accepted the Simple Caution.

The Panel stated that as a result it was unable to fully assess the risk of repetition. In the absence of evidence of any insight, remorse and/or any remediation that Mrs Leach continues to present a real risk of repetition of the behaviour giving rise to the Caution.

The Panel was mindful of the public interest, the need to protect the public and the seriousness of the allegation, involving theft and dishonesty. It considered what a member of the public might make of Mrs Leach’s conduct and the effect that may have on the reputation of the profession. Her actions will have damaged the reputation of the profession and undermined public confidence in the profession of social work.

Panel Chair Graham Aitken said: “Mrs Leach has provided no evidence of insight, remorse or remediation in respect of her behaviour and she has not engaged with her regulator in respect of this hearing. The allegation found proved is a serious, criminal matter involving dishonesty.”

The Panel ordered for the name of Joanne Leach to be suspended from the HCPC Register for a period on twelve months.

Mrs Leach was neither present nor represented at the hearing.


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