Sunderland social worker kept quiet on boy’s abuse

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A SOCIAL worker who failed to seek help when a seven-year old boy complained about his father beating him with a battery has been allowed to continue in the profession.

Klaudeta Risto was working for Sunderland City Council when the boy told a teacher at his school that his father had hit him and slapped his mother.

The boy, identified as child A, had no visible marks on him and asked Risto not to tell his parents after the incident on February 27 last year, it was said.

He was already subject to a child protection plan under the category of neglect, the Health and Care Professions Council heard.

Rather than employing child protection measures to ensure the boy was kept safe, Risto decided maintaining the family unit was more important and did not report the incident, the panel was told.

The only actions she took were to speak to his mother two days later and ask his teacher to keep an eye on him.

Risto’s shortcomings only came to light when Sharon Storey, a fellow social worker, conducted a random audit on March 9 2012.

By the time further help had been sought, the boy had been at risk of harm for two weeks, it was said.

The panel was told that if the random audit had not been conducted, it was likely this case would not have come to light.

HCPC panel chairman Ian Griffiths said: “The panel considered that Mrs Risto allowed her commitment to maintain a positive relationship with Child A’s family and with Child A himself to cloud her objectivity and professional judgement in risk assessment.

“In doing so, she had allowed an emotional response to override her responsibility to take appropriate and immediate action to report and address the matter.”

Risto had qualified as a social worker just over a year before this incident, and it was her first solo child protection case.

“The panel accepts that Mrs Risto has shown a degree of remorse and has taken some positive steps to improve her professional knowledge of child protection and safeguarding.

“Mrs Risto explained to the panel that the events had taken place at a difficult time in her personal life.

“The panel is satisfied from all that it has heard that the misconduct in this case is capable of correction and that appropriate, realistic and verifiable conditions can be formulated in this case.

“However, before she can return to unrestricted practice, the panel considers that Mrs Risto must be able to demonstrate that she is able to apply her knowledge and understanding of child protection practice in situations similar to that set out in the allegation and that she must also be able to demonstrate an appropriate and effective professional response towards real situations rather than the emotional response which she adopted in this case.”

Risto, who has worked for Sunderland City Council since October 2010, was handed a conditions of practice order for two years.