How we investigate concerns
The investigations stage is a more detailed enquiry into the concern following the triage stage. You can read more about how we decide whether to investigate a concern at the triage stage.
Throughout the investigation, we keep the person who raised the concern, the social worker and the social worker's employer updated with our progress.
If you've raised a concern about a social worker, you can read more about what happens after you've raised a concern.
If you are a social worker, you can find more information in our guide for social workers under investigation.
Once we have gathered all the necessary information, we will write a report to summarise what we have found.
Investigations usually take about six months. The process may take longer depending on the availability of relevant information, or if an investigation is put on hold.
How we investigate concerns
Once an investigation has been opened, we will tell the social worker about the concerns that we are investigating and give them an opportunity to respond.
We ask that the social worker provides information to assist with the investigation at the beginning of this stage.
We also ask the social worker for details about their employer. Once we have the employer’s contact details, we will let them know about our investigation.
If the social worker does not provide the required information, the investigators will decide whether to make an application for the adjudicators to suspend the social worker or remove their registration. Such cases will be dealt with on an individual basis following the relevant guidance.
The role of investigators
Our investigators are impartial. They do not take the side of a social worker or the person that raised the concern.
Their role is to manage the progress of a case, to gather all relevant information and to support the people involved in the concern.
The investigators will identify anyone who might be able provide information about the concerns and will request this information.
Wherever possible, the investigator will speak with the social worker concerned, or their representative, regularly to ensure they understand the investigations process and the possible outcomes.
If an investigation is postponed or put on hold
We may postpone an investigation in order to not prejudice a criminal investigation or we may choose to wait for the outcome of an employer’s disciplinary process.
We’ll be in contact every six weeks to keep everyone involved updated and let them know what we’re doing.
Once the investigation is finished, the investigator will produce an investigation report which will explain the key evidence.
The report and all evidence gathered during the investigation will be shared with the social worker concerned, so they can comment.
We will allow enough time for a written response before sharing the case with the case examiners.
Case examiners review the evidence collected during an investigation to decide next steps. We will always ensure that the case examiners receive a copy of any comments made by the social worker in response to the report.
When we find new or conflicting evidence during the investigation, both the person who raised the concern and the social worker will be given an opportunity to respond before the case is referred to the case examiners.
You can read more about the role of case examiners.
Last updated: 28 November 2019