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High Court quashes appointment of social worker to supervise sex offender

City and County of Swansea Council has succeeded in having a court order quashed that would have made an inexperienced and unwilling social worker the supervisor of a child sex offender.

In The City and County of Swansea v Swansea Crown Court & Anor [2016] EWHC 1389 (Admin) Mr Justice Hickinbottom said Swansea Crown Court should reconsider the matter.

The case had arisen after 'B' was charged with historical sex offences, by which time he was suffering from dementia and it was accepted he was unfit to plead.

The case proceeded under section 4A of the Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act 1964 and the jury found that B had done the acts involved in 13 charges of rape of a child under the age of 13 and seven charges of causing a child to engage in sexual activity.

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After this, crown court Recorder Philpotts imposed a two-year supervision order on B to be supervised by council social worker Amy Beasant.

Once both she and the council became aware the supervision order had been made they applied for a review since Beasant said she had never agreed to be a supervising officer for B, and did not consider herself to have the professional experience required. The Recorder though refused the application and the supervision order remained in place.

The council argued on appeal that a supervision order could not lawfully be made under the 1964 act unless “the supervision officer intended to be specified in the order is willing to undertake the supervision; [and] that arrangements have been made for the treatment intended to be specified in the order".

Since Beasant was unwilling to be B's supervising officer, there was no evidence upon which the Recorder could properly have concluded that she was willing, the court heard.

Mr Justice Hickinbottom said: “In my judgement, this point is unanswerable – and, indeed, none of the other parties (including B himself) seek to oppose the judicial review claim. Paragraph 2 of schedule 1A makes the consent of the supervising officer mandatory, before a supervision order can be made. Without such consent, the court has no jurisdiction to make such an order.

“Here, Ms Beasant did not consent; and there was no evidential foundation upon which the Recorder could properly have made a finding that she did.”

He said the Crown Court should reconsider based on “the jury findings as to the acts done, available assessments of risk and the restricted orders available to the court”.

Mark Smulian

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