Waltham Forest Social Worker Wins Appeal Against Ban

A SOCIAL worker who failed to launch an inquiry when a teenager told her she was being abused has won an appeal against a ban.

Tricia Forbes, former deputy team manager in Children’s Services for Waltham Forest Council, was struck off by a General Social Care Council committee, following her mishandling of the case.

But at a recent hearing at the Care Standards Tribunal in London, it was ruled that the decision to remove her was “too severe” and suspension would have been more appropriate.

During the hearing Ms Forbes admitted that, in May 2005, she failed to start a child protection inquiry or inform police after a 14-year-old girl, who had previously been referred to social services, told her she had been physically abused by her father again.

Instead, Ms Forbes dropped off the teenager at the roadside and did not inform her boss.

The teenager then went missing for three days before being admitted to Whipps Cross Hospital in a drunken state.

It was reported at the hearing that there had been “apparent chaos” within the team at that time because a manager had been suspended, leaving just an interim manager and an apprentice deputy team manager who needed more support from senior management.

The ruling said Ms Forbes had been a relatively new manager and there was “little evidence” of support from her employer. It also said that the council had “unrealistic expectations” of a junior first-line manager like her.

Ms Forbes admitted making “serious failings” and the tribunal accepted that she had learnt her lesson and that there is “very little risk” of her making the same mistake again.

The tribunal concluded that the original ruling was too severe because as a newly appointed deputy team manager, Ms Forbes had no effective cover.

Waltham Forest Council reinstated Ms Forbes in 2006 on the condition that she work in a role where she would not have responsibility for vulnerable children or adults.

Cllr Chris Robbins, council cabinet member for young people said: “Waltham Forest Council expects the very highest standards of practice in our staff, especially where they have responsibility for the most vulnerable.

In fact, the effective training and development of our social workers was positively cited throughout Ofsted’s recent assessment of the council’s children and young people’s services.”