Let us know if you agree to cookies

We use cookies to give you the best online experience. Please let us know if you agree to all cookies.

Skip to main navigation

Skip to main content

New concerns

After a concern is raised

 Our triage team considers all new concerns to determine whether a social worker’s fitness to practise may be impaired.

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 the social worker’s fitness to practise is impaired

  • being barred from working with children or vulnerable adults

  • not having the necessary knowledge of English

If a concern is not about a social worker’s fitness to practise, Social Work England is not able to investigate. It may be that another organisation is better placed to help. If that is the case, we will talk to the person who raised the concern about next steps.

You can read more about what we can't investigate

Sometimes we may need supporting information from other people, such as the social worker’s employer or the police, before deciding whether to open an investigation.

How we decide if we need to investigate

Our triage test helps us decide if there are reasonable grounds to investigate a social worker’s fitness to practise.

You can read more about how we make decisions at the triage stage in our triage guidance

When we apply the triage test, we carefully consider all the information that the person who raised the concern has given to us.

This means that it is very important that the person raising the concern gives us as much information as possible.

When making this decision, we may consider:

  • the seriousness of the concern

  • whether there is likely to be any evidence to support the concern

  • whether the incident is isolated or repeated

  • whether there has been a breach of established standards or guidance

  • what action has been taken already to address the concern, including whether the social worker has taken any remediation steps

  • any outcomes of any previous regulatory investigations

Triage decisions

We aim to make a triage decision within 15 working days of the concern being received, but we may need to ask the person who raised the concern for more information. We may also need to wait for the outcome of another organisation's investigation before making the decision.

Once we have made a decision, we will let the person who raised the concern know whether we will investigate their concern or not. 

If we are not investigating the concern, we will explain why.

Triage decisions are always made by groups of social workers, lawyers, and a senior member of the fitness to practise team.

You can read more about what happens if we decide to investigate.  


Last updated: 28 November 2019

Back to top