Claire Gannon arrived to find chaos and a lack of staff in St Helena’s social services department thanks to government failures to take recruitment seriously, the Wass Report says.
Governor Mark Capes failed to act on a warning that the only qualified social worker was about to leave the island in 2011 and needed to be replaced urgently, it says.
She had not been briefed to expect anything like the problems she encountered – but that did not excuse the way she went on to act, says Sasha Wass QC.
The report criticised the island government for failing to fill crucial posts quickly.
“The only qualified social worker on St Helena left her post in May 2012 and it was not until June 2012 that the St Helena Government even started advertising for qualified social workers to work on the island.
“Claire Gannon was appointed to take up the post in early 2013. St Helena Social Services had been without a qualified social worker on the island for a period of nine months.
“Claire Gannon was presented with a chaotic and unmanned social services department on her arrival on St Helena.
“Her lack of recent experience in front-line social work meant that she found herself completely out of her depth.
“Although this cannot excuse the unprofessional behaviour she went on to exhibit, it should be recognised that Claire Gannon was not properly briefed for the task that confronted her when she arrived on St Helena in February 2013.”