Social worker suspended after logging meetings with vulnerable children that did not happen

Caroline Chirimuuta worked at Norfolk County Council. Photo: Neil Perry

Caroline Chirimuuta worked at Norfolk County Council. Photo: Neil Perry - Credit: Archant

A social worker has been suspended for a year after recording details of meetings she did not attend while working in Norfolk.

Caroline Chirimuuta, who qualified as a social worker in 2014, was suspended for one year after a Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service (HCPTS) hearing in London last week.

The panel heard that, while employed as a Norfolk County Council social worker, she made a record suggesting she had completed visits which she had not on four occasions in 2016. She was also accused of not maintaining accurate records, after logging an incorrect date twice in 2016.

Ms Chirimuuta moved to the council's Looked After Children team in Great Yarmouth in 2016. But a line manager raised concerns over the 'level of detail' in a record of a statutory visit, leading to further reviews.

She was suspended in December 2016 and a disciplinary hearing held in April 2017. The HCPTS hearing began in October last year, and was adjourned until last week. The panel heard evidence from foster carers, including one who received a call on behalf of Ms Chirimuuta, saying she was unable to make a visit. The visit was later logged as having been made.

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Her records of meetings included 'invented interactions' with others, including children, the panel said. In one, she said a child was 'very excited and asked me to come upstairs and have a look at all of her clothes in her wardrobe'.

The panel said her actions exposed 'three acutely vulnerable children to a risk of harm', and meant they could have been without a visit for almost six months.

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The panel decided the records of meetings that did not occur amounted to misconduct, while logging incorrect dates did not.

They said Ms Chirimuuta had given evidence that she 'understood the gravity of her actions' and that she'd had 'two years to reflect on matters', and hoped to resume her career as a social worker.

But they said it was necessary to suspend her licence for 12 months.

Norfolk County Council said: 'We are unable to comment on individuals, however we can confirm that we take the conduct and practice of our staff very seriously, and take appropriate action where there are concerns.

'In all cases where there are concerns about fitness to practice, we refer the practitioner to the relevant professional registering body. In the case of social workers, this is the HCPC.'

We approached Ms Chirimuuta for comment.

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