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Name:

Jamie Saunders

Registration number:
W/2079784
Date:
07/10/2020 - 07/10/2020
Time:
9.30am
Residential child care worker
Immediate order from 12/10/20 pending removal on 09/11/20
This hearing will be taking place by Zoom. Please contact us at hearings@socialcare.wales if you would like to observe
Previously Amberleigh Care Ltd
Fitness to Practise Panel

Allegations

That on the 23 September 2018 whilst registered as a Residential Child Care Worker and employed by Amberleigh Care Ltd:

1. Mr Saunders acted in an inappropriate and aggressive manner towards Young Person A by:

(a) pulling him from a window sill;

(b) pinning him on the floor;

(c) pulling him back to the floor when he attempted to escape.

Decision on facts

We have found Charges 1 and 2 proved.

We have carefully considered two pieces of CCTV footage and a bundle of papers which include statement evidence.

We have accepted the legal advice provided to us.

Mr Saunders is registered with Social Care Wales as a Residential Child Care Worker. He is a relatively experienced worker having had two periods of registration.

He is alleged to have behaved inappropriately and aggressively against two vulnerable young people in his care. This is a public hearing and it is important that the interests of the young people concerned are protected by the confidentiality of their identities being protected. We will therefore refer to these individuals as Young Person A and Young Person B respectively and we viewed the video footage in private so that their identities should not be disclosed by that means.

We have considered each of the two Charges against Mr Saunders and have recorded our findings in turn.

Charges

That on the 23 September 2018 whilst registered as a Residential Child Care Worker and employed by Amberleigh Care Ltd:

1. Mr Saunders acted in an inappropriate and aggressive manner towards Young Person A by:

(a) pulling him from a window sill;

(b) pinning him on the floor;

(c) pulling him back to the floor when he attempted to escape.

The CCTV footage is very clear and provides a very good perspective of what occurred. On occasions, Mr Saunders and Young Person A have their backs to the camera and at an early stage in the footage Young Person A is behind a curtain, but we were satisfied that the footage provided us with very good evidence of what occurred.

Mr Saunders is clearly seen to pull Young Person A from a window sill, to pin him to the floor and to pull him back to the floor when he seeks to escape Mr Saunders’ grip.

2. Mr Saunders acted in an inappropriate and aggressive manner towards Young Person B by:

(a) pushing him;

(b) holding him against a wall by his neck

The footage of Mr Saunders’ behaviour towards Young Person B is also very clear. He is clearly seen to push Young Person B repeatedly and to hold him against the wall of the corridor by his neck.

In the case of both Charges, we were satisfied that Mr Saunders’ actions were both inappropriate and aggressive. The footage is shocking. Mr Saunders behaved aggressively throughout. On one occasion he very aggressively pulled back Young Person A’s head or hair at a point when Young Person A bit or attempted to bite Mr Saunders’ hand. The footage does not include sound but it is clear from Mr Saunders’ behaviour, his facial expressions and overall demeanour that anger got the better of him. His actions were clearly excessive and did not conform to any approved use of restraint. He did not de-escalate the situation. Instead, he acted so as to aggravate the situation and he instigated the physical altercation with Young Person B.

We are supported in our interpretation of the footage by the statements that we have read from the other child care worker who was present for part of the time in question and by Mr Saunders’ former employer and professionals in a multi-agency safeguarding meeting. All of whom were shocked at the level or restraint used and considered the actions to be excessive.

We were able to see the upset on part of the other carer, Young Person A and another young person who witnessed part of the incident through a door panel. We understand that the young people concerned had experienced violence during the course of their upbringings and might therefore be more vulnerable to behaviour of the sort exhibited by Mr Saunders.

We find both Charges proved.

Decision on impairment

We find that Mr Saunders’ Fitness to Practise is currently impaired.

As we have already recorded, Mr Saunders acted angrily and aggressively. We recognise that Residential Child Care Workers do an extremely difficult job and that they sometimes face provocation as part of their work. In this case however, there is no evidence that Mr Saunders was goaded into what he did and it is a necessary characteristic of care workers that they are able to resist provocation when it does arise. Mr Saunders was not newly qualified and he had recently undergone physical restraint training. He completed a two-day course. His responses to his former employer’s inquiry into the incident show that he knew the correct approach to restraint. Regrettably, he did not employ that approach on 23 September 2018.

Mr Saunders’ did not show any insight or remorse or any ownership of his actions when spoken to about the issue by his employer. He sought to justify his actions as reasonable restraint and this, in our view, puts his integrity in some question.

This was without question deplorable behaviour and fell well short of what is properly expected of a Residential Child Care Worker. Behaving violently, as Mr Saunders did, amounts to a breach of a fundamental tenet of social care practice and it amounts to a failure to meet the expected standards set out within the Code of Professional Practice and the Practice Guidance for Residential Child Care Workers. Of most direct application are the expectations within the Code that social care workers should:

2. Strive to establish and maintain the trust and confidence of individuals and carers.

3. Promote the well-being, voice and control of individuals and carers while supporting them to stay safe.

and

5. Act with integrity and uphold public trust and confidence in the social care profession.

Members of the public would be rightly concerned about the use of violence by a care worker within a Children’s Home.

In our judgement, Mr Saunders’ actions clearly amount to Serious Misconduct and this was so serious as to amount to an impairment of his fitness to practise.

The incident took place more than two years ago and it is important for us to consider whether Mr Saunders fitness to practise is still impaired now. Mr Saunders appears to have been unable to control his anger. We have no evidence that Mr Saunders has taken any steps to address this and the likelihood of repetition is therefore high. We have concluded that Mr Saunders’ fitness to practise is currently impaired.

Decision on disposal

We impose a Removal Order.

Reasons

We have considered whether there is any mitigating material in the papers before us. Mr Saunders is reported to have expressed remorse during the course of his former employer’s disciplinary hearing but this is a limited reference without any detail and appears to be at odds with Mr Saunders more detailed comments in disciplinary interview. There are a number of significant aggravating factors. Mr Saunders actions involved the use of violence toward vulnerable young people and will have undermined the trust of those concerned. There is no evidence in our view of insight or significant remorse.

We do not think it appropriate for us to take no action or to impose a Warning. Neither would restrict Mr Saunders’ ability to practise as a Residential Child Care Worker and neither would reflect the seriousness of his misconduct.

The imposition of a Conditional Registration Order is not appropriate in our view because it would be very difficult to prevent a repetition of the loss of temper which led to the incident in September 2018 through the imposition of conditions. In any event, this is not a practical disposal because Mr Saunders has not participated in this process, is not currently in regulated work and has not expressed any motivation to comply with conditions so as to work in social care in the future. On the contrary, Mr Saunders indicated in email correspondence with Social Care Wales earlier this year that he did not intend to work in social care in the future at all.

A Suspension Order would protect members of the public and the public interest during the period for which it existed. Mr Saunders has already been subject to a long period of interim suspension. There is no indication that he has undertaken any remedial work during that period or that he intends to do so. For the imposition of a Suspension Order to be appropriate, we would need to have some confidence that Mr Saunders would be fit to practise by the time that the order came to an end. We could arrange a review prior to the expiry of any order but there is no purpose in doing so in this case because we can have no confidence that Mr Saunders would act so as to address the impairment of his fitness to practise in the meantime. He has indicated in clear terms that he is not intending to do so.

We regard the actions taken by Mr Saunders as being serious enough to warrant the imposition of a Removal Order. We consider such an order to be proportionate. We have also concluded that a Removal Order is necessary to protect the public and the wider public interest. No lesser disposal is appropriate.

We therefore impose a Removal Order.

Whilst we are conscious that Mr Saunders has not been subject to an interim order during the period immediately prior to this hearing, we are of the view that we should ensure the greatest level of public protection that we can. We consider that it is necessary for the protection of members of the public and the public interest that the Removal Order that we impose today should apply immediately that Mr Saunders is notified of it. We therefore make a Removal Order with immediate effect. This order will prevent Mr Saunders from working in regulated social care in Wales.