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New concerns

Our triage team considers all new concerns to determine whether we should investigate.

What happens when we receive your concern?

Last updated: 12 November 2020

Our triage team deals with all new concerns. First, we review your concern to decide if it’s something we can consider. We look at 2 things at this stage:

  1. Is the concern about a social worker? We can only consider concerns about social workers.
  2. Does the concern relate to the social worker’s fitness to practise?

The purpose of the fitness to practise process is to address serious concerns that either:

  • suggest members of public could be at risk of harm, or
  • could damage public confidence in social workers if we did not take action.

A social worker’s fitness to practise could be impaired due to:

  • misconduct
  • lack of competence or capability
  • a conviction or caution
  • serious ill health
  • 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 you submit a concern to us, we will confirm that we have received it within 2 weeks. At this point, we will also let you know if:

  • your concerns are about something we can deal with, or
  • we need more information to decide whether we can deal with your concern

If your concern is not about a social worker or a social worker’s fitness to practise, we will not be able to consider it any further. It may be that another organisation is able to help. If that’s the case, we will provide you with the organisation’s details.

You can read more about what we can't investigate

How we decide if we need to investigate

If we can consider a concern, we will decide if we need to open an investigation. Our triage test helps us decide if there are reasonable grounds to investigate a social worker’s fitness to practise.

When we apply the triage test, we carefully consider all the information you have given to us. It’s very important that you give us as much information as possible about your concern.

When making this decision, we may consider:

  • the seriousness of the concern
  • if there is likely to be any evidence to support the concern
  • if the incident is isolated or repeated
  • if 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

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

Triage decisions

Before making a triage decision, we may need to ask you for more information. Sometimes we may need information from other people, such as the social worker’s employer or the police.

We may also need to wait for the outcome of another organisation's investigation before making the decision. If we need to contact other people or wait for the outcome of an investigation, we will update you on the progress of your concern.

Once we have made a decision, we will let you know if we will investigate your concern or not. If we open an investigation, we will tell you what we are investigating. If we decide not to investigate, we will explain why.

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

There is no right to appeal a triage decision. However, you can challenge the process we followed in making a triage decision through judicial review. 

Fitness to practise process flowchart

You can view our fitness to practise flowchart. This flowchart sets out the different stages of our fitness to practise process.

View the flowchart
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