Teen caught with drugs ‘fed up’ of social worker changes

A HIGH turnover of social workers contributed to a troubled teenager becoming disillusioned with the help available to him, a court has heard.

(78787) (29660441)
(78787) (29660441)

The Royal Court was told that the 17-year-old boy had been assigned 12 different social workers during a period which culminated in a series of drugs charges.

The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply of 4.5 grams of MDMA with a street value estimated at between £360 and £450. He also pleaded guilty to separate charges of possessing 2.7 grams of MDMA and 0.9 grams of cannabis.

Crown Advocate Emma Hollywood said the drugs were found after a warrant had been executed at the defendant’s residence in November 2019.

The court heard that subsequent analysis of three mobile phones seized from the defendant showed messages that indicated the MDMA was being supplied.

Advocate Hollywood said that the defendant, who was 16 at the time of the offences, had endured several adverse childhood experiences, including the loss of his home and family, being returned to care, an involvement in crime from an early age and ‘kinship’ with a group of disaffected youths.

Royal Court Commissioner Sir Michael Birt, presiding, said the court wished to avoid a custodial sentence if possible.

‘The family had nine social workers to August 2019, and three more since then, and this led to a lack of trust in professionals from someone who was fed up due to all the changes,’ he said.

Sir Michael also criticised the fact that it had taken almost a year for a ‘straightforward’ case to be resolved.

The defendant was ordered to complete a total of 360 hours of community service and urged by Sir Michael to recognise his good fortune in avoiding custody and to take the opportunity to turn his life around.

Sir Michael was sitting with Jurats Stephen Austin-Vautier and Elizabeth Dulake.

The high turnover of social workers was mentioned this week by Children’s and Housing Minister Jeremy Maçon, who was appointed to the role.

As part of his nomination by the States Assembly, Deputy Maçon was asked by Senator Ian Gorst about the first change he would like to see in transforming Children’s Services.

Deputy Maçon said: ‘The care inquiry report cited children saying that they did not even bother to learn the name of their social workers because they changed so quickly. One of the key things is to ensure workforce stability so that we can have a continuity of service – this is so crucial in the development of children.’

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