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Social worker who abused her position of trust is struck off

HCPC strikes off social worker who failed to disclose information about Person A, who was subject to a police investigation in relation to historical sex offences against a minor

Published on 9th October 2017

A social worker has been struck off the Health and Care Professions Council social work register for an abuse of trust.

Catherine Holmes was registered as a social worker employed as an hourly paid lecturer by Coventry University and also employed by Warwickshire County Council as a Social Work Practice Educator, when she failed to disclose information about Person A, who was subject to a police investigation in relation to historical sex offences against a minor.

Ms Holmes and her young son were referred to Warwickshire Council by the police on 27 November 2013 because her former partner, Person A, was being investigated in relation to historical sex offences against a minor and possessing indecent images.

At the time, Ms Holmes and her son were living at Person A’s property due to flooding at her own property. A social worker, Witness 1, was allocated to the case and concerns arose regarding Ms Holmes withholding certain information related to Person A.

In or around November 2013, Ms Holmes informed her that as Person A was unable to return to his address due to the fact that she and her son were residing there, and therefore he had been bailed to the address of a ‘family friend.’ It was not until some seven months later, on 9 June 2014, that she confirmed when questioned by Witness 1 that the family friend in question was in fact her mother. The matter only came to light in a Child Protection Strategy meeting, which Witness 1 had attended, on 4 June 2014 when a nursery worker had mentioned it. 

Person A was eventually found guilty at trial and imprisoned.

Furthermore, Ms Holmes failed to advise the council that she knew the identity of Person A's new partner, who had children. She also did not disclose that Person A had contact with his new partner’s children.

The Panel took into account the clearly very difficult circumstances which Ms Holmes found herself in.  It also took into account that prior to the Panel’s findings on fact, she was a person of good character and that these circumstances arose out of a particular situation, namely the proximity of Person A. The misconduct which has been found proved results from this situation alone, and does not relate to any wider dishonesty in her social work practise.

However, given the lack of any real indication of insight or remediation, the Panel has concluded that there remains a real risk of repetition, and that she is indeed liable to put service users at unwarranted risk of harm, to bring the profession into disrepute, to breach fundamental tenets of the profession, and to act dishonestly in the future.

Her actions “clearly have the capacity to undermine public trust and confidence in the profession,” particularly in the circumstances of this case where she dishonestly did not make disclosures which were required of her as an experienced and knowledgeable social worker. Young children were put at real risk of harm in a situation where she was unable to resolve her conflict of interest.

Panel Chair Khairun Butt said: “Ms Holmes’ duty as a professional social worker was to put any conflict of interest aside, and act to safeguard the vulnerable service users. She did not do this and thus she committed an abuse of trust.”

The Panel ordered for the name of Catherine Ruth Holmes to be struck off the HCPC Register.

Ms Holmes was not present nor represented at the hearing.

 

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