Social worker struck off for making indecent images

Social worker concedes he should be struck off for making indecent images of children

Published on 27th February 2019

A social worker has acknowledged that he should be struck off the Health and Care Professions Council register after making indecent images of children.

Simon Cartland was convicted of making two indecent photographs of a child specifically category A movies and  two indecent photographs of a child specifically category C images, contrary to sections 1 (1) (a) and 6 of the Protection of Children Act 1978 at Guilford Crown Court in April 2018.

In a letter dated 17 October 2018 to the HCPC, Mr Cartland stated, “From the onset of my self-referral, I have been clear that my behaviour has only one course of action for HCPC to exercise, which is to strike me off the Register.”

Mr Cartland was employed as Head of Learning Disabilities at Hampshire Council's Adults’ Health and Care. On 2 April 2018, he wrote to the HCPC making a self-referral notifying the regulator that, on 23 March 2018, he had been charged with two criminal offences relating to the downloading and viewing of indecent images of children.

Mr Cartland said that he had received a summons to appear before Guildford Magistrates’ Court on 17 April 2018 and confirmed that he would be pleading guilty to these charges.

He attached a letter dated 28 March 2018 that he submitted to his employer which stated: “I am ashamed to report to you that I accept both of charges against me, as I was solely responsible for downloading and viewing all four images.

"The realisation and horror of the absolute hurt, anger and deep pain that I have caused my husband, family and friends and no doubt work colleagues, in addition to those service users I have served in Hampshire, is and will be immeasurable and understandably will always remain.

"Furthermore I fully accept that my behaviour has perpetrated the on going harm and abuse of children and though I am engulfed in feelings of utter remorse and shame, I am committed to face the consequences of my actions and will reflect and learn from them until the day I die.

"Similarly I acknowledge that my behaviour and actions constitutes a complete breach of trust, values and professional responsibilities, including that of a Social Worker and as a senior leader and employee of Hampshire Adults’ Health and Care and is equally an absolute breach of standards of the Health and Care Professions Council and rightly struck off the HCPC register.(sic)”

On 17 April 2017, Mr Cartland entered guilty pleas to both charges and, on 8 May 2018, was sentenced to a Community Order with a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement and an Unpaid Work Requirement (80 hours) for a period of 12 months. He was also made subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for a period of five years and required to register with the police in accordance with the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for a period of five years.

The Panel concluded that Mr Cartland's fitness to practise as a social worker was at the time, and remained, impaired on public protection grounds, not least because practising as a social worker could bring him into contact with young children, but also because of the impact on service users of learning that a social worker had behaved in this way.

The Panel identified the following aggravating factors in the case:

- A gross breach of trust
- Behaviour that actively undermined the profession and caused harm to the profession, service users and his employer.
- He held a senior role with the Council and would be expected to set an example.

The Panel considered the following mitigating factors:
- Mr Cartland had no previous disciplinary matters
- He had co-operated with police, employer and regulator
- Some, albeit not fully developed, insight
- Remorse
- A realistic acknowledgement that his position is no longer compatible with being a social worker.

Guidance in the ISP on making a Striking Off Order states that: "The HCPC considers that any offence relating to child [sexual abuse imagery] involves some degree of exploitation or abuse of a child and, therefore, that conviction for such an offence is a serious matter which undermines the public’s trust in registrants and public confidence in the profession concerned."

The Panel concluded that, in light of the seriousness of the behaviour and the limited insight and remediation, there is a real risk that the behaviour would be repeated. Therefore they decided that the only appropriate sanction in this case was to make a Striking Off Order.

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