Care worker gave alcohol to vulnerable 15-year-old girl who called her ‘mum’

Christine Dickson is told she should never work in social services again after breaching ‘professional boundaries’ with children

A care worker who allowed a vulnerable teenager to call her “mum”, laced her soft drinks with alcohol and took her to visit her father in defiance of orders has been told she should never work in social services again.

Christine Dickson, who worked at the Ryedale House residential care facility in Dumfries, also bought clothes and hair accessories for the girl, referred to in papers as P, something which a former colleague said “could be seen as grooming”.

An inquiry by the Scottish Social Services Council was told Miss Dickson consistently failed to maintain “professional boundaries” with the children she worked for and share confidential company information with them.

On one occasion she took P to visit her father in Stranraer, even though Dumfries and Galloway Council’s social work department had told her he was to have no contact with his daughter because of alleged domestic abuse and drugs issues.

She returned with the girl to the Ryedale House in the early hours of the morning, but later falsified records to indicate that she was in bed before midnight.

The panel concluded that there was a “risk to the public” if Miss Dickson was allowed to remain on the register of childcare workers because she had shown no sign of accepting responsibility for her actions.

Miss Dickson, who was employed by Front Line Scotland as a residential child care worker, refused to attend the three-day inquiry, which concluded in Dundee on Friday.

Her former colleague Veronica Wilson told the panel she had used alcohol to cope with her problems. “She would abscond to access alcohol and she was verbally and physically abusive to staff when she had accessed alcohol,” Miss Wilson said.

She said she had become suspicious of fellow carer’s behaviour when a bouncer at the caravan park referred to Miss Dickson having poured vodka into the child’s drink.

Scottish Social Services Council solicitor Sally Dow presented letters from Miss Dickson, in which she insisted she was “distraught” by her involvement in disciplinary proceedings.

The panel also found her guilty of falsifying details about her employment history.

Delivering the judgment, chairman Callum Lawrie said: “These actions were wholly incompatible with the registrant remaining as a child care worker.

“The written submissions from the registrant were profoundly inconsistent and unreliable. She was unable to accept responsibility for her actions and attempted to move the blame onto other colleagues and professionals.

“There is no evidence to satisfy the sub-committee that the registrant would not act in the same way in future. There is a risk to the public if she remains on the register.”