Investigation urged into disciplinary proceedings against former county council youth worker later convicted of sex offences
Updated 2:13pm Wednesday 9th July 2014 in News
The leader of the council's Labour group has called for an independent investigation into circumstances surrounding a former youth worker sacked from Pembrokeshire County Council for ‘inappropriate behaviour’, who then went on to sexually abuse a young boy.
Michael (known as Mik) Smith was jailed last week for six years after admitting child sex offences.
He had worked as a line manager with Pembrokeshire Youth Service and had been sacked in 2012.
Although none of the charges related to his time working at the authority, Judge Paul Thomas at Swansea Crown Court said Smith had been given "several warnings" about his behaviour before being dismissed.
Concerns about disciplinary procedures at County Hall following complaints made about Smith in 2005 were highlighted in a damning report into education ad safeguarding by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) and Estyn in 2011.
Labour’s Cllr Paul Miller has tabled a Notice of Motion to next week’s full council meeting that calls for the Minister for Local Government to investigate what happened.
It reads: “That the Minister for Local Government be asked to commission an independent investigation to look at the circumstances surrounding the 2005 disciplinary investigation into Michael Smith. The investigation should seek to ascertain the circumstances which lead to a now convicted paedophile being allowed to have continued access to Pembrokeshire children and should provide an assessment of the role of senior council officers in that process.”
Cllr Miller has also submitted a number of questions relating to the case including asking council leader Cllr Jamie Adams to provide a statement to council ‘setting out the facts of the internal disciplinary investigation undertaken in response to those concerns in 2005’.
He also asked for reassurance that if an investigation uncovered similar results as the one into Smith did that person would not be permitted to continue having unsupervised access to children.
Cllr Miller also wants it to be publicly stated which senior members of staff handled the 2005 investigation , who was made directly aware of it and its conclusions, and what precipitated the initial investigation.
His final question, linked to his Notice of Motion, reads: “Does the Leader believe that following the verdict earlier this month in the case of Michael Smith, there needs to be an independent inquiry to ascertain exactly who, employed by this authority, failed to act to protect Pembrokeshire children and why?”
Following the handing down of Smith’s sentence Pembrokeshire County Council issued a lengthy statement outlining the formal intervention taken by national inspectorates and said action had been taken.
It added that procedures had been changed completely and it is ‘confident that the failings of nine years ago would not be repeated now’.
Anyone with concerns were urged to contact the council duty team on 01437 776444 or the police on 101.