Belfast Telegraph

Unrepentant social worker struck off for gestures and insults

The review panel heard that the NISCC wrote to Ms Porter on July 11 this year asking her to provide information about what steps she had taken to address the
The review panel heard that the NISCC wrote to Ms Porter on July 11 this year asking her to provide information about what steps she had taken to address the "shocking" and "unprofessional conduct" but she had not responded (stock photo)

By Lisa Smyth

A social worker who made obscene sexual gestures and comments about the relative of a child in care has been struck off.

Jennifer Victoria Porter has not yet apologised for her behaviour, which happened over a three-year period while she worked in the Looked After children's team in the Southern Trust, a fitness to practise committee was told.

Ms Porter was originally suspended for six months after the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC) found her guilty of misconduct.

At the time, the regulatory body gave her an opportunity to take steps to remediate her conduct. However, at a recent review hearing six months after the original fitness to practise hearing, it emerged that Ms Porter has not engaged with the NISCC.

The review panel heard that the NISCC wrote to Ms Porter on July 11 this year asking her to provide information about what steps she had taken to address the "shocking" and "unprofessional conduct" but she had not responded.

It said: "There is nothing before the committee to give it any confidence that the registrant has resolved or remedied the cause of her misconduct during the period of her suspension.

"The committee noted that the registrant had not engaged with the Council at all and was concerned that the registrant, still at this late stage, had not apologised for her actions. The committee was therefore of the view that there remains a risk of repetition of her previous misconduct, and that a finding of continued impairment was required on public interest grounds."

During the original hearing, witnesses gave evidence to a fitness to practise hearing, with one claiming she often used foul language and a second former colleague said she described the mum of one family as "fat".

A third witness told the hearing Ms Porter described the mum of one family in derogatory way, using words like "stinking", "smelly" and "greasy".

A fourth witness said Ms Porter used the word "paedo" to describe the dad of one family, based on a photograph she had seen.

Ms Porter faced two charges - that at some time between May 9, 2013 and March 16, 2016, she used inappropriate or derogatory language in relation to service users, and that she also used an inappropriate sexual gesture in relation to a kinship carer.

In its ruling, the fitness to practise panel said: "The committee determined that the facts found proved involved repeatedly using inappropriate and derogatory language about a range of very vulnerable service users and vulgar sexual gestures in relation to a kinship carer.

"This conduct occurred in the work place and the committee determined that it was serious."

The committee ruled Ms Porter's behaviour was "deliberate and prolonged" and said it "was not a mistake or error of judgment on one occasion".

It determined that respect and compassion are fundamental tenets of the social work profession and Ms Porter had breached both of these, concluding that it amounted to serious misconduct.

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