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Conditions placed on social worker’s registration because of serious misconduct

17 March 2020
Social Care Wales

Conditions have been placed on the registration of a social worker from Cardiff for 12 months after a hearing found his fitness to practise was impaired because of serious misconduct.

Sean Wharton admitted during the hearing to failing to make sure he adequately recorded a case over a four-year period, and failing to carry out appropriate supervision visits and giving appropriate support to a foster carer.

Mr Wharton also accepted he inappropriately sent and received confidential information, such as the names of children, foster carers’ records and medical reports, to and from private email accounts, admitting it lacked integrity.

In addition, Mr Wharton admitted sending inappropriate images of adults and an inappropriate video of two adults of a sexual nature from his work email.

During the hearing, Mr Wharton explained he received the images and video as part of a social media group on a mobile phone where he had access to his work and personal emails, and he accidentally sent them from his work account instead of his personal one. He accepted his actions were unacceptable and unprofessional.

Having considered the evidence, the panel decided that Mr Wharton’s fitness to practise was currently impaired because of serious misconduct.

Explaining its decision, the panel said: “In our judgement, the conduct in charges 1, 2 and 4 falls significantly short of what would be proper in the field of professional social care practice and cross the threshold of serious misconduct.”

The panel continued: “The nature of your work is such that, if you return to practice, you will face challenging circumstances.

“Bearing this in mind, and weighing it against the evidence before us, the insight you have shown, and your developing (but not complete) remediation, we cannot conclude that the conduct is, at this stage, highly unlikely to be repeated.”

The panel therefore decided to place conditions on Mr Wharton’s registration for 12 months.

The panel told Mr Wharton: “This, in our view, reflects the seriousness of the matters we have found proved, balances the protection of the public with the issue of proportionality, and provides a framework for you to continue with the progress you are making.”

The two-day hearing took place at our Cardiff office last week.