Information was disclosed to BACP, which was considered under Article 12.6 of the Articles of Association.
A summary of the allegations as notified to Ms Watson was as follows:
On 27 November Year 1 Ms Watson was convicted of theft and she was sentenced at [ . . . ] Magistrates Court on 16 January Year 2. [ . . . ]
Ms Watson explained that the circumstances surrounding the offence were that she was in a personal relationship that was breaking down and she believed that [ . . . ] had broken through her security pattern and accessed the phone numbers of some of her clients and had transferred them to [ . . . ] mobile phone and laptop with the intention of contacting them. Ms Watson states that in order to safeguard her clients she removed [ . . . ] mobile devices from [ . . . ] house with the intention of checking them and deleting any client information and then to return the devices to [ . . . ]. Ms Watson states that [ . . . ] called the police and she was subsequently arrested and charged. Ms Watson states that she did not plead guilty at the time of arrest, as she was given legal advice not to. Ms Watson therefore pleaded not guilty and was convicted of theft at trial.
Ms Watson states that subsequently she has replaced her mobile phone to one which has a fingerprint accessible password and has strengthened her password.
The nature of the information raises questions about the suitability of her continuing membership of this Association and it raises concerns about the following in particular:
Ms Watson’s alleged actions have brought, or may yet bring, not only this Association, but also the reputations of counselling/psychotherapy into disrepute.
- Ms Watson’s alleged behaviour is incongruent with that which is expected of a member of BACP.
- Ms Watson allegedly failed to immediately report her conviction to BACP until information was received about her conviction and pending sentencing date.
- Ms Watson failed to keep her clients’ details securely therefore potentially risking breaches of confidentiality
- The information further suggests that there may have been a serious breach, or breaches, of the Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy
The member was invited to send in a written response and made a response.
Article 12.6 Panel's Decision
The Article 12.6 Panel decided to implement Article 12.6 of the Articles of Association. Ms Watson’s membership would be withdrawn subject to appeal. Ms Watson had 28 days from the date of notification of this report to make an appeal. In the absence of an appeal notification would be given to Ms Watson by the Chair of the Association with regard to the withdrawal of membership.
The reasons for the Panel’s decision are as follows:
The Panel had regard to the serious nature of the offence for which Ms Watson had been convicted and of the fact that the offence was committed relatively recently, in Year 1. The Panel was not satisfied that Ms Watson had adequately explained why she believed that [ . . . ] had broken through her security code and accessed the details of her male clients, nor had she made a full disclosure to BACP.
[ . . . ].
It was apparent to the Panel that the [ . . . ] revealed fuller details of the matters for which Ms Watson had been charged and the sentence which she had received, which the Panel were previously unaware of. In particular it noted that the charges included [ . . . ]. Ms Watson did not disclose either of these matters to BACP.
Ms Watson was given the opportunity to disclose the details of her conviction and sentence and responded on 10 March Year 2 disclosing that that she had removed mobile devices from [ . . . ]’s house. No reference was made within this statement or any of her other correspondence with BACP, to her having been accused or convicted of stealing cash, keys or having a restraining order imposed against her.
The Panel agreed that Ms Watson had numerous opportunities to disclose the restraining order and the reasons why this had been imposed against her, and to disclose full details of the matters with which she had been charged/convicted, and any other matters which led to her belief that confidential information had been accessed by [ . . . ], but did not do so.
The Panel was therefore not satisfied that Ms Watson had been open and transparent in her disclosure to BACP, despite being given the opportunity to have done so. The Panel agreed that this behaviour and the serious nature of the offence and sentence she received, were incongruent with that which is expected of a member of BACP.
The Panel was satisfied that if all of the circumstances of this case were to be made known to the public, Ms Watson’s actions would bring not only the Association but the professions of Counselling and Psychotherapy into disrepute and undermine the public’s confidence. The Panel therefore concluded that Ms Watson’s actions were sufficiently serious to warrant withdrawal of her membership of BACP.
Ms Watson did not appeal the decision and her membership was withdrawn.
Any future re-application for membership will be considered under Article 12.3 of the Articles of Association.
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