A social worker who failed to report seeing a padlock on a child’s bedroom door has been struck off after the boy was later found by police locked in his room in a “state of neglect”.
James Ballantyne was reprimanded by Scotland’s care watchdog for not only failing to report the lock during a home visit, but also failing to return regularly to the property in Paisley for check-ups.
The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) found Ballantyne’s fitness to practise impaired, stating: “Your behaviour was not an isolated incident but formed a pattern of behaviour in that you continually failed to assess risks to [the boy] inside his home.
“Your lack of reporting the lock on the [boy’s] door resulted in the child being found by the police locked in his room in a state of neglect and at risk of physical and emotional harm.”
Ballantyne was employed as a social worker with Renfrewshire Council at the time of his misconduct.
Following a deep clean of the property in June 2019, Ballantyne was said to have spotted the padlock fixed outside the boy’s bedroom door.
He failed to record it in the case notes and did not inform his line manager or carry out a risk assessment.
Ballantyne also failed to advise the boy’s guardian to remove the lock in the interest of safety.
Between June 2019 and May 2020, the SSSC said Ballantyne failed to return to the property on a regular basis to check that the standards of cleanliness were being maintained throughout the house.
As a result, the boy was eventually found by police locked in his room in a state of neglect.
The SSSC said the incident presented a “risk to life” had there been a fire and the boy was unable to get out of his locked room.
The watchdog said: “You recognised the neglectful and dangerous conditions [the boy] was experiencing in June 2019 and you failed in your duty to proactively follow this up.
“You did not physically check or ask to check [the boy’s] bedroom since this time in June 2019 to ensure it was being maintained to an adequate condition and the lock had been removed.
“As a result, [the boy] was at an ongoing risk of neglect and harm.”
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The SSSC said Ballantyne’s failure to report the lock “denied others the opportunity” to challenge his response and risk assess the situation.
The watchdog said it placed the boy at risk of “emotional, psychological and physical harm”.
Ballantyne was said to have demonstrated insight and regret and cooperated with the SSSC investigation.
In conclusion, the watchdog said a removal order was the “most appropriate sanction” to maintain the “continuing trust and confidence in the social service profession and the SSSC as the regulator of the profession”.
The removal order came into effect last Tuesday.
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