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June 9, 2011 permalink
British social worker Christopher Flatman used a cell phone while driving with a young ward in the back seat. He was sending kinky messages to the ward's mother.
Social worker used phone while driving with child
A SOCIAL worker who put a child's life at risk by driving using a mobile phone has been suspended for 12 months.
The agency worker, employed by Hillingdon Council, was also reprimanded for making comments towards the child's mother, deemed to be 'inappropriate.'
Christopher Flatman, 50, was disciplined at a conduct committee hearing of the General Social Care Council. The committee heard that Flatman had been prosecuted by police and convicted at Hendon Magistrates Court in February last year for the driving offence.
At the time it was committed in August 2009, Flatman had the child of a family he was supposed to be providing support to, on the backseat of his car.
Flatman has been a qualified social worker for seven years, and was assigned to work by Hillingdon Council through an outside agency with a specific family in July 2009. The committee hearing decreed that certain elements of Flatman's behaviour was inappropriate, which included adding and sending private messages to the child's mother on social networking site Facebook.
The mother complained about his behaviour, which included Flatman asking for a photo of her in a particular dress, and 'asking if she had whips and chains hidden in her wardrobe.'
Flatman accepted that some of his language employed on Facebook had been serious inappropriate, including a comment prior to his appointment, "3.30 be ready girl."
The committee itself said it could not conclude that the behaviour was sexually motivated in the sense of being driven by sexual desire.
It was unable to dismiss the possibility that Flatman's behaviour was a case of naivety and sexually inappropriate 'banter' used to seek to engage and work with the family.
The committee ruled however that misconduct had been proved, that his style of communication was clearly not appropriate. He was also found, by putting the child at risk by driving with a mobile phone, to be a risk to himself and others, and to have behaved in a way which would call into question his suitability to work in social services.
Flatman, who had no previous record of misconduct, was suspended for a total of 12 months, and will have the result of the hearing on his permanent record.
Linda Sanders, director of social care, health and housing, said: "Mr Flatman's behaviour during 2009 was completely inappropriate and contrary to professional social work ethics, and we are pleased action has been taken by the General Social Care Council. When the allegations were first made in January 2010, we immediately ceased Mr Flatman’s temporary contract and advised his agency to ensure that he could not be employed elsewhere. The agency accepted this advice."
The council added that they have been working hard to recruit social workers permanently, and as of April 30, just 6.8 per cent of children's services social workers are employed from agencies.
Source: Uxbridge Gazette