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GOC highlights 'grave consequences' of failing to declare convictions and cautions

23 Mar 2009

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The General Optical Council (GOC) is warning opticians of the dangers of failing to declare details of criminal convictions, cautions or disciplinary proceedings whilst registered.

 

The warning follows a recent Fitness to Practise (FTP) hearing against David Thompson, a registered dispensing optician. On 16 March, an independent FTP panel determined that Mr Thompson had dishonestly withheld details of two criminal convictions, one of theft and one of common assault, when applying to join the register in 2005, and on subsequent applications for retention. Mr Thompson was found guilty of misconduct and suspended from the register for 12 months.

 

Commenting on the case, chief executive and registrar Dian Taylor said: “The outcome of this case highlights the importance of declaring all criminal convictions and cautions. Although for some the retention process is now over until 2010, if you are convicted of any offence between now and then you should notify us immediately.”

 

Dian Taylor added: “Student retention is now approaching, so those studying optometry or dispensing optics should also be aware of the requirement to declare any offence on their application form, no matter how minor it may seem. As this case demonstrates, failing to do so can have grave consequences.”

 

All registrants must provide the GOC with details of any criminal convictions or cautions. Minor misdemeanours and traffic offences must also be declared. Only motoring offences dealt with by way of a fixed penalty notice do not need to be declared. GOC registrants are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. This means that no convictions are considered to be ‘spent’.

 

Practitioners must also notify the optical regulator of any adverse findings or ongoing investigations by the GOC, any other healthcare regulatory body (UK or overseas), NHS primary care organisations (PCO) or health boards.

 

ENDS

 

For further information please contact:

Clare Millington
Communications Officer
General Optical Council
t: 020 7307 3472
e: cmillington@optical.org

About the General Optical Council:

The GOC is the regulator for the optical professions in the UK. Its purpose is to protect the public by promoting high standards of education and conduct amongst opticians. The Council currently registers around 22,000 optometrists, dispensing opticians, student opticians and optical businesses.

 

NOTES TO EDITORS

 

1. Full details of the David Thompson FTP hearing are available at www.optical.org under our work>hearings>past hearings.

 

2. On applying for registration, retention or restoration, applicants must provide full details of any convictions or cautions (or any Agreed Offer, Penalty Payment Agreement, or Absolute Discharge Order in Scotland) or any investigations in relation to a criminal offence. Registrants must declare any conditional caution, and any conviction which led to the imposition of a conditional or absolute discharge. This must include any conviction etc believed to be spent. Full details including the date, the offence committed, the penalty or punishment imposed and the circumstances leading to the offence should be provided. This should include the amount of any fine and the name of any court attended.

 

3. All declarations are dealt with on a case-by-case basis, in line with the Council’s Protocol on the Handling of Criminal Convictions Disclosed by Registrants. This is available from the Council’s website: http://www.optical.org/en/about_us/policies_procedures_and_protocols/

 

4. Notifiable Occupations are those in which the public interest in the disclosure of conviction and other information by the police or other officials, generally outweighs the normal duty of confidentiality owed to the individual.
Optometrists and dispensing opticians, including students, are included in the list of occupations that carry special trust or responsibility under the Notifiable Occupations Scheme.
Notifying bodies, such as the police, courts and other bodies, send the GOC information about criminal offences committed by registrants if the offence is relevant to GOC registration.

 

 

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