A social worker who was sacked for using his work computer to search for pictures of children smoking has avoided being struck off.Could he not get away with the ‘it’s for research!’ argument?
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 internet searches using terms such as "smoking fetish", "smoking teens", and "smoking child" between April 2008 and April 2009.I learn something new every day, at least about people’s fetishes. Thanks, Internet!
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.Now that’s not surprising, is it?
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.Indeed! Although, he wasn’t forcing anyone to smoke. He was just looking at pictures.
Perhaps they feared that was the next step?
During the investigation it emerged Mr Paling had long-standing issues with smoking, and that he felt guilt over his own smoking.It’s almost like a modern-day witch trial, isn’t it? Perhaps if he’d broken down and confessed his sins, he’d have got his job back.
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 diverse and pluralistic society …’
"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."
Now there’s a term to conjure with, eh?