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The General Social Care Council (GSCC) has suspended a Derby City Council social worker for six months for misconduct after she removed a child from an approved foster carer without lawful authority or reasonable excuse and took the child to her own home.
The GSCC conduct committee heard that on 8 April 2007, Mrs Lorraine Brimelow removed a child from the house of the foster carer without authority to do so. The child, who was under the jurisdiction of Stoke-on-Trent social care service, was then taken to Mrs Brimelow's home despite Mrs Brimelow not being the approved carer of the child and the child not being known to her.
During the two-day hearing, the committee was presented with allegations that Lorraine Brimelow, 49, of Stoke failed to follow Derby and Derbyshire safeguarding children procedures, failed to contact Derby's children social care out of hours service and acted regardless of any statutory powers to do so.
The GSCC called several witnesses to provide evidence about Mrs Brimelow's behaviour during and after the incident, including the foster carer, Brimelow's line manager and the police officer dispatched to the foster carer's house. Mrs Brimelow chose not to attend the hearing, but did submit a letter admitting to not following correct procedure.
Mrs Brimelow was unable to provide an explanation justifying her actions either to the Committee, Derby County Council or the police.
On consideration of the allegations, Mrs Brimelow's letter and the testimonies of several witnesses the committee decided to suspend Mrs Brimelow for six months. This was in light of the serious nature of her misconduct. The committee concluded that a suspension was the most appropriate sanction on the basis that the misconduct, whilst serious was not so serious as to justify removal. The committee noted that the misconduct related to a single incident of unacceptable conduct and not to Mrs Brimelow's general competence.
Rosie Varley, Chair of the GSCC, said: "It is of critical importance that social workers act in accordance with their employers' policies and procedures at all times in adherence with the GSCC's code of practice. We know that the majority of social workers are dedicated to acting in the best interests of people who use services and recognise the importance of following procedures to this end. However in the minority of cases where actions fall short of the standards expected of them, social workers must be held to account."
The Red Book is the acknowledged authority on practice and procedure