Devon social worker, 52, put runaway child at risk

A SOCIAL worker, who failed to inform the police an eight-year-old child in her care had run away, admitted putting the child at risk.

Jillian Outterside, 52, admitted driving away from Paignton Sports and Community College at dusk in February 2008 without the child, who had run off.

Outterside, then a residential social worker at children’s home, was due to collect the girl, who has autism, and two children from the college, following an afternoon horseriding.

At a hearing held by social care regulator the General Social Care Council in London, Outterside admitted failing to employ de-escalation techniques after the child had become agitated and abusive before running away.

She also admitted her failure to inform the police, the council and staff at the college that the child was missing had put her at risk.

The girl was later found by college staff.

Outterside was later disciplined and put on a final warning by her employer Torbay Council.

The General Social Care Council committee yesterday ordered she be admonished for a year.

Effectively a caution for misconduct, this means the incident and outcome of the hearing will remain on her record.

Her union representative Sam Oestreicher told the committee Outterside’s actions had been an ‘error of judgement’, an isolated incident in an otherwise unblemished 30-year social care career.

He added she had received no training in how to handle children with autism and there had been little supervision of staff at the home, which was later closed down following an investigation by the NSPCC.

Outterside told the committee: “I just did not see the whole picture at the time.

“All I could think was I had two other children and I had to get them back.”

The committee said although her misconduct had been serious in nature, it had taken into account Outterside’s good employment history, her recognition of her failings and her decision to refer herself to the GSCC.