April 8, 2011

Staffordshire social worker with a smoking fetish ?

Worker sacked for search smoking children pics avoids being struck-off

Worker sacked for search smoking children pics avoids being struck-off

By Phil Corrigan Philip.Corrigan@Thesentinel.Co.Uk

A SOCIAL worker who was sacked for using his work computer to search for pictures of children smoking has avoided being struck off.

Alan Paling, who indulged his habit while working for Staffordshire County Council, was yesterday cleared of misconduct.

The General Social Care Council‘s conduct committee heard that Mr Paling had carried out nearly 200 internetsearches using terms such as “smoking fetish”, “smoking teens”, and “smoking child” between April 2008 and April 2009.

He also accessed an internet video clip of two females in school uniform, although the subjects’ ages could not be determined.

But the committee ruled that while Mr Paling’s behaviour could be considered “questionable”, it did not warrant his removal from the social care register.

The internet searches, which were in breach of the county council’s internet use policy, were discovered by a county council ICT officer in May 2009. Mr Paling, of Foxglove Lane, Clayton, was suspended from his role as an emergency duty team social worker manager, and an internal investigation took place.

GSCC presenting officer Nimi Bruce said that while Mr Paling’s activity was not illegal, it was clearly inappropriate for someone whose job involved working with children.

She said: “The police were contacted in the early stages of the investigation, but it was ascertained that the activity did not cross the threshold for police action.

“On May 18, a meeting took place in relation to the case. It was felt that the nature of the search terms used caused very significant concern.”

Mr Paling, who had worked as a social worker for 33 years without any previous concerns being raised, had his county council employment terminated in June 2009.

During the investigation it emerged Mr Paling had long-standing issues with smoking, and that he felt guilt over his own smoking.

The conduct committee found that misconduct had not been proved.

Panel chairman Ian Daines said: “The committee is conscious that, in this diverse and pluralistic society, many forms of behaviour may cause concern to some people.

“This committee is satisfied that neither the protection of the public nor the public interest calls into question the registrant’s suitability to remain on the register.”

A county council spokesman said there was no suggestion Mr Paling had any professional contact with the young people whose images he viewed.

He added: “After a thorough investigation it was concluded that Mr Paling’s actions had not directly endangered any young people during the course of his work.

“However, he had shown by his own admission, ‘appalling judgement’ which made him unsuitable to continue working with young children. He was therefore dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct.”

Mr Paling declined to comment.




  1. He should have been removed from the GSCC Register. The words Fetish & Teen are just chilling!

    Comment by lovingmama05 — April 8, 2011 @ 4:52 pm | Reply

  2. Perserve man indeed, me thinks. Caught on the job proper.

    Comment by melthemoocher — April 8, 2011 @ 10:41 am | Reply

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