What happens in an investigation by Social Work England?

Social Work England (“SWE”) only investigates concerns relating to a social worker’s fitness to practise.

Once a complaint has been made, SWE will need to review the complaint and determine whether it relates to the social worker’s fitness to practise, according to SWE’s website, a social worker’s fitness to practise could be impaired due to:

  • misconduct
  • lack of competence or capability
  • a conviction or caution in the UK for a criminal offence
  • a conviction which would be a criminal offence if committed in England or Wales
  • serious physical or mental health conditions
  • a decision by another body that your fitness to practise is impaired
  • being barred from working with children or vulnerable adults
  • not having the necessary knowledge of English

If the decision has been made to investigate, the individual under investigation will be informed. SWE will also inform their employer that their employee is under investigation and will inform them of the outcome. Once the investigation is concluded, the evidence is sent to two independent case examiners.

The case examiners will make a decision whether there is a public interest in a hearing being held. If they decide there is not a need for a hearing, the case examiner can:

  • close the case
  • close the case and give advice or warning
  • refer the case to a hearing
  • offer you an accepted disposal outcome

Case examiners can propose the following accepted disposal outcomes:

  • no further action
  • advice
  • a warning order
  • a conditions of practice order
  • a suspension order
  • a removal order

If it is in the public interest, the case examiner will refer the case to the hearings team at SWE who will arrange a hearing and adjudicators who will conduct the hearing. The adjudicators are an independent panel consisting of at least a lay panel chair and a qualified social worker. The panel of adjudicators decides that your fitness to practise is impaired, it will impose a sanction. The possible outcomes are:

  • take no further action
  • issue advice
  • impose a warning order
  • impose conditions of practice order for up to 3 years
  • impose a suspension order for up to 3 years
  • impose a removal order

Saunders Law can assist at both the investigative stage and represent a social worker at the hearing.

If you are being investigated by Social Work England, please contact our Regulatory team on 0207 632 4300 and we would be happy to discuss how we can assist.


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