The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) gives you the right to be informed about how we use your personal data. You can find more information why we hold your data in this policy. If you need this information in another format or you can’t find the information that you are looking for, then please contact us.
Last updated: 25 August 2023
- Registration as a social worker
- Continuing professional development (CPD) records
- Raising concerns
- Fitness to practise proceedings
- Enquiries, feedback and complaints
- Freedom of Information requests
- Stakeholder relationship management
- Working for Social Work England
- See your data
- Correct your data
- Stop us using your data
- Automated decision making and profiling
- Data portability
About this privacy notice
The UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA 2018) set out your right to be informed about the processing of your personal data. We provide information about the processing of your personal data through privacy notices, such as this one. We may provide other information to explain our approach, at other times when collecting your personal data.
If you need this information in another format, or you can’t find the information you’re looking for, please contact us. You can find our contact details at the end of this page.
About Social Work England
Social Work England is the regulator of social workers, and education and training courses and qualifications for social workers, in England. Our statutory objectives, duties and powers as a regulator are set out in the Children and Social Work Act 2017 and The Social Workers Regulations 2018.
Social Work England is a non-departmental public body, operating at arm’s length from the government. It is sponsored by the Department for Education (DfE), and has a partnership with the DfE and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
If you provide your personal data to us, or it is shared with us, through this website or through other means, Social Work England becomes the data controller for that data.
The purpose of this privacy notice
This privacy notice provides information on the data we collect about you in different situations. It tells you what we collect and when, how we use it, why we use it, who will have access to it, and where it will be stored.
What 'personal' data means
'Personal data' means data which identifies you, or which can be used to identify you. This might be, for example, your name and address, or something more sensitive, such as your health data or bank details. Some of this more sensitive data is called 'special category data'. More information about special category data can be found under the ‘Lawful basis for processing’ section below.
Most of the personal data we process we collect directly from you. This includes, for example, if you (do any of the following):
- contact us with an enquiry, feedback, or complaint
- set up an online account and register with us as a social worker
- respond to a consultation or survey we are conducting
- provide information to us in fitness to practise proceedings or during an Education Quality Assurance inspection
- participate in a focus group or event
- work with our regional engagement leads
- communicate with us on social media
We may also receive information about you from people who (any of the following):
- contact us with an enquiry, complaint or concern
- are involved in a fitness to practise case we are investigating, such as members of the public, social workers, employers and other witnesses
- respond to our surveys and consultations.
We may not have any control over what personal data is sent to us (and received by us) through such channels. However, in this privacy notice, we have described the main types of personal data we expect to receive, and how we will use it.
For the avoidance of any doubt, we do not buy or sell your personal data.
Personal data we collect from you or about you
The personal data we collect is largely determined by you, and the nature of your interaction with us (such as using our website, or contacting us with an enquiry).
The list below contains some of the information we may collect from you when you communicate with us, for example if you contact us by email, phone or through the forms on our website:
- personal contact details, including your name, address(es), telephone number(s) and email address(es)
- data that helps us to identify you, so that we can be confident we’re talking to the right person. This may include data such as your social worker registration number (if applicable), email address, or date of birth
- personal or professional opinions – for example, as part of a survey or consultation, when you talk to us on the phone, or if you raise a concern to us. You may choose to state explicitly or imply your political views, or it may be possible to infer these from the information you provide.
The above information might also be provided to us about you, for example if someone provides it to us in the course of fitness to practise proceedings.
Find out more about the information we collect about your visit to our website.
Equality and diversity data
We may ask you for equality and diversity information which we use to help meet our duties under the Equality Act 2010, and the expectations of the Professional Standards Authority. We may use the information to generate anonymised statistics. We may publish these anonymised statistics to promote discussion, and share learning.
The data we collect will be accessible by employees involved in data analysis, interpretation and reporting, and our IT team for operational purposes. We restrict access to equality and diversity data, and if you are a social worker, it will not be used to inform any decisions about your registration or fitness to practise.
You do not have to provide equality and diversity information. If we ask you for the information, we will provide the option “prefer not to say” (or similar) and the option not to answer the question. If you do not answer the question, we will record the response “no answer given” (or similar).
Some equality and diversity information may not be collected routinely, but we may invite you to provide it, or we may receive it from others about you (explicitly or by implication, for example if someone sends it to us during the course of a complaint or fitness to practise process).
The equality and diversity information we may collect includes information relating to your (any of the following):
- ethnic origin
- marriage or civil partnership
- pregnancy and maternity
- political opinions
- religious or philosophical beliefs
- sexual orientation
- gender reassignment
- gender identity
- family, lifestyle and socioeconomic circumstances, such as parental and caring responsibilities
Duties and powers to require the disclosure of information
We have the following duties and powers to require the disclosure of information:
- The power under regulation 14(3) of The Social Workers Regulations 2018 – to require persons other than the registered social worker to attend and give evidence, or produce documents, in relation to the removal of an entry from the register, where we are satisfied that the registration was fraudulently procured or incorrectly made.
- The power under regulation 15(5)(b) of The Social Workers Regulations 2018 – for adjudicators, in connection with an application for restoration by a person whose entry was removed from the register as the result of a removal order, to require persons other than the person making the application to attend and give evidence, or produce documents.
- The power under regulation 19(4) of The Social Workers Regulations 2018 – for the regulator and adjudicators to require persons other than the person concerned to attend and give evidence, or produce documents, to the adjudicators, in connection with a registration appeal.
- The duties under paragraphs 1(3)(a) and 4(1)(b) of Schedule 2 of The Social Workers Regulations 2018 – to require social workers to provide information in connection with fitness to practise proceedings, namely details of:
- any person by whom they are, or have been, employed to provide services as a social worker or in relation to social work,
- any person with whom they have, or had, an arrangement to provide services as a social worker or in relation to social work, and
- any regulatory body with which they are registered.
- The power under paragraph 5(1) of Schedule 2 of The Social Workers Regulations 2018 – for investigators to require any person to supply information or produce documents in connection with fitness to practise proceedings.
We use your information in the course of carrying out, and in connection with, our regulatory functions.
What we use your personal data for
We use your personal data for the activities we carry out, such as (any of the following):
- regulating social workers
- regulating education and training courses and qualifications for social workers
- understanding and resolving questions, queries and complaints
- responding to requests, including subject access requests
- ensuring we operate effectively
- complying with our legal requirements
- decision making
- service planning
- statistical research and analysis
- compiling statistics
- monitoring our own performance and the impact of our work, and helping to ensure the success thereof
- providing equal opportunities
- ensuring accessibility
- contacting you for feedback about our work
- managing our relationships with stakeholders
- organising and managing events and activities
- sending you news and updates
- where necessary, the prevention and detection of crime, abuse, harassment, violence, bullying and discrimination
- investigating and assessing details of any incidents you report to us. “Incidents” may include, for example, data incidents and/or breaches on our part, or any accidents occurring on our premises
- establishing, exercising and defending legal claims
- fulfilling our duties as a prescribed person as designated under s.43F of the Employment Rights Act 1996, including those under The Prescribed Persons (Reports on Disclosures of Information) Regulations 201
How we protect your personal data
We ensure that there are legal, technical and organisational measures in place to protect your personal data. These are implemented, for example, within the software we use, the protection of our networks and devices, the contracts we put in place, and the training we provide to those who work for us or on our behalf.
How long we keep your personal data
We retain personal data in accordance with our legal obligations and regulatory functions, taking into account factors such as the purpose(s) for which it is held, the need to ensure data integrity and accuracy, the period in which legal claims, investigations or enquiries may arise, the need to retain records in the public interest, and any applicable statutes of limitation.
Some of the records we hold are of long-term historical value and need permanent preservation. This is in accordance with the duty we have to the public, to be an accountable organisation. Maintaining a record of our past actions and decisions also acts as our long-term memory and provides research materials that will meet the needs of the general public in future years.
We may decide to retain information where it is integrally linked to other information which we need to continue to hold, and where to delete it would diminish the integrity of the overall information we hold about you, or make it difficult to understand. For example, there may be intricate links between data stored in the database we use for fitness to practise cases. Deleting only one part of the data relating to a case after a fixed period of time from the creation of that data may compromise the evidence related to the case and the integrity of the data, so it may be more appropriate to delete all of the data after a fixed period of time. We may also need to consider the most appropriate date to use as for the beginning of the retention period. For example, it may be appropriate to delete data a certain period of time after a contractual relationship comes to an end, rather than the date that the individual pieces of data processed under the contract were created.
For some of the data we hold relating to social workers, we also need to consider the maximum potential working lifetime of the social worker, whether that information may need to be retained throughout that time, the potential for social workers who have left the register to return to practice, and whether information related to one social worker may need to be retained because it is relevant to another; in such cases, deletion could mean that we would not have a complete set of evidence. We also need to take into consideration historical events which have shown that some issues may only come to light some considerable time after they occurred.
In some cases, we may decide to retain data for a longer period of time than we otherwise would under normal circumstances. For example, continuing professional development (CPD) records will usually be kept for a certain period of time after the due date for submission, but may be kept for longer if they are found not to meet our requirements, and this leads to a fitness to practise process being commenced.
We manage deletion of data through a combination of automatic deletion and regular checks by the teams responsible for that data.
You can find out more about how long we keep data in our data retention schedule.
Where we store (and otherwise process) your personal data
Most of the data collected as part of your interaction with Social Work England will be stored in UK-hosted data centres. In some cases, personal data will be transferred to, and processed in, countries outside of the UK. The UK government may have made adequacy regulations, which signify that it has determined that the applicable legal framework in the destination to which the data is being transferred provides adequate protection for the rights and freedoms of individuals in respect of their personal data. Where no such adequacy regulations have been made, we will ensure that appropriate UK GDPR-compliant safeguards apply. We may do this, for example, by implementing the relevant set of contractual clauses which apply to the data transfers involved. The available sets of contractual clauses can be found on the websites of the Information Commissioner and, where relevant, the European Commission.
Data processing may occur outside of the UK, for example, where data is stored in another country, or technical support teams providing services which enable Social Work England to carry out its role have temporary access to the data in order to resolve a particular issue or query.
Your personal data will also be stored on Social Work England premises and devices, under the control or supervision of Social Work England staff or consultants, or with other third parties or data processors in accordance with this privacy notice. We take steps to ensure that we have appropriate contractual provisions in place where we transfer your personal data to a data processor.
Lawful basis for processing
Why we are allowed to collect and process your personal data
We are allowed to process your personal data for different reasons. Our lawful bases for doing so will depend on the data we are processing, and the reasons for the processing. We have set out below the lawful bases available to data controllers, and outlined the ones we rely on for our processing of personal data:
This applies where we need to collect and use your personal data to comply with a legal obligation, for example under the Children and Social Work Act 2017, or The Social Workers Regulations 2018.
As a public body, we collect and use personal data where necessary to perform tasks that are part of our regulatory functions or otherwise in the public interest, where there is a basis in law for doing so.
We may use information to protect the vital interests of you or of another person. For example, if there is a matter of life or death.
Some data controllers may rely on this lawful basis when they are processing your personal data. They can do so where processing is necessary in their legitimate interests, or the legitimate interests of a third party, and where such interests are not overridden by your interests, or fundamental rights and freedoms which require protection of personal data. Public authorities cannot rely on 'legitimate interests' as a lawful basis for processing carried out in the performance of their tasks.
As a public authority, we do not rely on legitimate interests for processing in the performance of our tasks.
We may process your personal data where necessary for the performance of a contract to which you are a party, or in order to take steps at your request prior to entering into a contract. Again, an example of this could be where we process personal data in our role as an employer.
We may on occasion need your consent to process your personal data. In such circumstances, you can withdraw your consent at any time. Examples of where we may rely on your consent to process your personal data are for the use of non-essential cookies on our website, or to send you certain emails such as our newsletter.
You can change your preferences about cookies in your browser. You can unsubscribe from non-essential emails by clicking the ‘unsubscribe’ link at the bottom of such emails. You can also manage certain communications preferences within your online account, if you have one. Please note that online accounts are only available to social workers or those who have applied, or are applying, to register as such.
When we process ‘special category’ data, such as information about your health, it is generally considered to be more sensitive than non-special category personal data. In order to lawfully process special category data, at least one of a set of legally-recognised conditions for processing such data must apply. The Information Commissioner’s Office provides further information about the lawful bases for processing special category data.
Who we share your personal data with, and who we receive it from
Depending on the circumstances, we may share your personal data, or receive it from (any of the following):
- members of the public
- our employees
- legal advisors and representatives
- social workers (for example, this may be necessary where concerns are raised about a social worker)
- referees, including those providing references for social workers or prospective or current employees of Social Work England
- witnesses in fitness to practise proceedings, including those who raised concerns
- healthcare professionals, including health assessors
- local authorities
- local and central government bodies
- education and training providers
- safeguarding teams, if something in the information we receive indicates a serious risk to you or another person
- other regulators, such as health and social care regulators (in the UK or elsewhere)
- NHS organisations and bodies
- non-departmental public bodies such as the Disclosure and Barring Service
- the police
- other public authorities
- the Professional Standards Authority
- businesses, such as those providing health or social care services
- courts and tribunal services
- law enforcement, including the police and prosecuting authorities
- internal and external auditors
- survey and research organisations.
This list is not intended to be exhaustive.
Processing of your personal data by third parties
We share information with other people or organisations where this is necessary to carry out our statutory functions.
We will only share personal data with third parties when the sharing has one or more appropriate legal bases, and is otherwise carried out in a way which upholds data protection principles. This includes ensuring that there are adequate legal, technical and organisational protections in place when we share your personal data.
We sometimes use external lawyers to carry out work on our behalf, for example in relation to investigations and hearings in fitness to practise proceedings. Your personal data may be provided to them as necessary for those purposes.
We may share information with third parties, such as Universities and research companies, to enable them to carry out surveys or analysis on our behalf. We anonymise data where it is not necessary to share it in a way which could identify you personally.
We carry out due diligence checks on any contractors who will, or could, process personal data as part of the work they are doing on our behalf. We ensure that all contractors have a legally binding, written contract, with sufficient guarantees as required by the UK GDPR and the DPA 2018.
Internal sharing at Social Work England
Our internal systems are designed to restrict access to personal data to those who need it for their roles. We may share data internally within our organisation, where it is relevant to our functions. For example, information relevant to a social worker’s fitness to practise which is acquired as part of a complaint, event, Education Quality Assurance inspection, or other interaction, may be passed to the fitness to practise team and could be used as part of, or to initiate, fitness to practise proceedings.
In deciding whether to share information internally, we will assess whether the information is being shared for a compatible purpose in accordance with Article 6(4) of the UK GDPR, taking into account (all of the following):
- any link between the original purpose and the new purpose
- the context in which we originally collected the personal data – in particular, our relationship with the individual and what they would reasonably expect
- the nature of the personal data. For example, whether it is particularly sensitive
- the possible consequences for individuals of the new processing
- whether there are appropriate safeguards. For example, encryption or pseudonymisation
Data sharing with the Department for Education
In accordance with Section 54 of the Children and Social Work Act 2017, subject to the requirements of the UK GDPR, the DPA 2018, and any other applicable legal requirements, the Department for Education has the right of access to any information requested by the Secretary of State in relation to the exercise of Social Work England’s functions. As such, at the request of the Secretary of State, relevant data may be shared with the Department for Education.
Duties and powers to share information
We have the following additional duties and powers to disclose information:
- The power under section 52 of the Children and Social Work Act 2017 – to publish or disclose information about any matter relating to our functions, or give advice about any matter relating to our functions, as clarified by regulations 6 and 7A of The Social Workers Regulations 2018.
- The duty under regulation 7A(1) of The Social Workers Regulations 2018 – to disclose information to a requester where we consider that the disclosure relates to any of our functions under the Children and Social Work Act 2017 and is in the public interest, provided this does not breach data protection legislation.
- The power under regulation 7A(2) of The Social Workers Regulations 2018 – to disclose to any requester any information relating to a registered social worker’s fitness to practise where we consider this relates to any of our functions under the Children and Social Work Act 2017 and provided this does not breach data protection legislation.
- The duty under section 53 of the Children and Social Work Act 2017 – to co-operate with Social Care Wales, the Scottish Social Services Council, the Northern Ireland Social Care Council, and any other body or person specified in regulations made by the Secretary of State for Education. The list of other bodies or people is set out in regulation 7 of The Social Workers Regulations 2018.
- The duty under regulation 8(9) of The Social Workers Regulations 2018 – to publish, and make available for public inspection, information recorded in the register of social workers in England, in such manner and at such times as we consider appropriate.
- The duty under regulation 14(8) of The Social Workers Regulations 2018 – to publish, and make available for public inspection, a list of all entries removed from the register of social workers in England, in such manner and at such times as we consider appropriate. The information which may be published includes the social worker’s name, reference number, date of registration previously recorded in the register, and the date of, and the reason for, the removal of the entry.
- Where a social worker has been removed from the register in accordance with regulation 14(1A) (while they are subject to fitness to practise proceedings) the regulator has a discretion to include on the list referred to in paragraph (8) of regulation 14 the particulars of the removal but must not include any information relating to the registered social worker’s physical or mental health.
- The duty arising from regulation 19(5)(e) of The Social Workers Regulations 2018 – to publish, in registration appeals, the details of the adjudicators’ determination and the reasons for it. However, if the adjudicators’ determination is favourable to the person concerned, Social Work England is not required to publish it, unless the person concerned so requests. Alternatively, if the adjudicators’ determination is favourable to the person concerned, Social Work England may publish it if the person concerned consents to the publication.
- The duty under regulation 25(1)(c) of The Social Workers Regulations 2018 – to publish as soon as reasonably practicable the particulars of any orders and decisions made in fitness to practise proceedings, together with the reasons for them, and the particulars of any order made on review or appeal. Information about fitness to practise publications, including the length of time for which we publish outcomes, can be found in our Fitness to practise publications policy.
- The duty on the regulator under paragraph 1(3) of Schedule 2 of the Social Workers Regulations 2018 to notify the social worker that paragraph 1(2) applies to them.
- The duty on the regulator under paragraph 2 of Schedule 2 of the Social Workers Regulations 2018 to inform any complainant of a decision that there are no reasonable grounds for investigating whether the social worker’s fitness to practise is impaired unless, in the opinion of the regulator, it is not in the public interest to do so
- The duty on the case examiners under paragraph 6(3) of Schedule 2 of the Social Workers Regulations 2018 to inform the regulator, the social worker and any relevant complainant of the case examiners’ decision.
- The duty on the regulator under paragraph 8(4) of Schedule 2 of the Social Workers Regulations 2018 to inform the social worker, employer, any person with whom the social worker has a contract to provide social work services, any other regulatory body with which the social worker is registered, and any relevant complainant of an interim order.
- The duty on the case examiners under paragraph 9(3) of Schedule 2 of the Social Workers Regulations 2018 to inform the regulator, social worker, employer, any person with whom the social worker has a contract to provide social work services, any other regulatory body with which the social worker is registered, and any relevant complainant of the case examiners’ decision to dispose of the case without further investigation.
- The duty on the regulator under paragraph 11(2A) of Schedule 2 of the Social Workers Regulations 2018 to inform the social worker that an interim order may be made and why it may be necessary.
- The duty on the adjudicators under paragraph 11(3A) of Schedule 2 of the Social Workers Regulations 2018 to inform the regulator that an interim order has been made and its terms.
- The duty on the regulator under paragraph 11(4) of Schedule 2 of the Social Workers Regulations 2018 to inform the social worker, employer, any person with whom the social worker has a contract to provide social work services, any other regulatory body with which the social worker is registered, and any relevant complainant of the terms of the order and the social worker of their right of appeal.
- The duty on the adjudicators under paragraph 12(2) of Schedule 2 of the Social Workers Regulations 2018 to inform the regulator, social worker, employer, any person with whom the social worker has a contract to provide social work services, any other regulatory body with which the social worker is registered, and any relevant complainant of their determination and the reasons for it.
- The duty on the adjudicators under paragraph 12(3A) of Schedule 2 of the Social Workers Regulations 2018 to inform the regulator of the terms of a final order and the reasons for it.
- The duty on the regulator under paragraph 12(4) of Schedule 2 of the Social Workers Regulations 2018 to inform the social worker, employer, any person with whom the social worker has a contract to provide social work services, any other regulatory body with which the social worker is registered, and any relevant complainant of the outcome of a final hearing.
- The duty on the regulator under paragraph 14(7) of Schedule 2 of the Social Workers Regulations 2018 to inform the social worker, employer, any person with whom the social worker has a contract to provide social work services, any other regulatory body with which the social worker is registered, and any relevant complainant of the outcome of a review of an interim order.
- The duty on the regulator under paragraph 15(6) of Schedule 2 of the Social Workers Regulations 2018 – when taking action upon reviewing a suspension order or conditions of practice order before its expiry, or reviewing a final order for removal, suspension, conditions of practice or a warning where new evidence relevant to the order has become available after the making of the order, or when requested to do so by the social worker, to inform:
- the social worker,
- any person by whom the social worker is employed, or with whom they have an arrangement, to provide services as a social worker or in relation to social work (where known),
- any regulatory body with which the social worker is registered (where known), and
- where the fitness to practise proceedings were instigated following a complaint against the social worker, the complainant.
- The power under section 41 of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 – to disclose, in the circumstances set out in that section, information about a person, to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
More information about your personal data
Registration as a social worker
Personal data we might collect or otherwise process if you apply to become, are, or have been, a registered social worker in England
During your professional journey from applying to register or renew your registration as a social worker, throughout your time as a registered social worker and afterwards, and during the course of your interactions with us, we might receive information from you (or from others about you), and retain or otherwise process information about you, including your (any of the following):
- personal contact details, including your name, any former name(s), address, previous address(es), telephone number(s), previous telephone number(s), email address and previous email address(es)
- date of birth
- National Insurance number
- identification documents such as your passport or driving licence
- details of your nationality (including supporting evidence)
- gender identity
- employment details, such as roles, departments, start dates, end dates and locations
- work history
- information about issues which may affect your fitness to practise as a social worker. This may include information about, for example:
- your health
- criminal cautions or convictions
- any regulatory proceedings initiated by other regulators
- the outcome(s) any regulatory proceedings initiated by other regulators
- records of your training and qualifications
- records of any qualification and annotation as an Approved Mental Health Professional or Best Interests Assessor
- records of your continuing professional development (CPD)
- evidence of English language skills
- details of your direct debit and fee payments (such as the dates and amounts paid, the name of your bank, your bank account and sort code number and the direct debit mandate ID to enable payments)
- information about any registration you have with other regulatory bodies
- references and reference requests
- counter-signatory information
- copies of emails – for example, if you email us, or someone sends the copies to us as part of a concern or complaint.
Extra purposes for which we may use your personal data if you apply to become, are, or have been, a registered social worker in England
The purposes for which we may process your personal data if you are applying to become, are, or have been a registered social worker in England include (any of the following):
- administering your online account, including during the process you follow when signing up for it
- processing and managing your application to:
- register as a social worker,
- renew your registration as a social worker,
- restore your registration as a social worker, or
- for social worker register annotation
Processing and managing your application includes verifying and assessing the information you have provided.
- reviewing and assessing your fitness to practise declaration and the other information you have provided, and making decisions based on that information as to whether to admit you to the register of social workers in England, or amend your registration details
- publishing your details on the public register of social workers. We may make this register available in different formats to those who may need it, such as employers or other regulators or authorities. These details include your (any of the following):
- registration number,
- registration status,
- date of registration,
- town of employment,
- social work qualification(s), and
- any other information we consider appropriate (in accordance with regulation 9 of the Social Workers Regulations 2018).
- managing your registration, including working with you to maintain the accuracy of the information we hold about you, and the register of social workers
- sending you registration renewal reminders (for example, by post, email or text message) and communicating with you for any other reason related to your registration or fitness to practise
- responding to enquiries about your registration status
- managing and developing our relationship with you, including sending you guidance and other information and updates about professional practice
- sending you our newsletter (you can opt in to receiving this if you wish)
- processing and investigating concerns relating to your fitness to practice or your use of the title “social worker”. This includes any concerns you have raised yourself (for example where you have self-referred to us), concerns raised by others about you, or concerns we have identified ourselves (for example, through information we have acquired in the course of our activities, or become aware of due to publications in the media or on social media). This may involve assessing and verifying information related to your fitness to practise or registration. We may need to send you sensitive information, and will send it to the email address and/or address you have provided within your Social Work England online account, unless we are satisfied that there is good reason to do otherwise. It is therefore important that, in accordance with the duty you have under regulation 16(1) of The Social Workers Regulations 2018, you keep your contact details up to date in your online account, throughout any fitness to practise process. Where you communicate with us via alternative contact details or we have reason to believe you have new contact details, we will take steps to confirm whether you have new contact details but reserve the right to continue to contact you at the contact details in your online account until these are updated by you or you provide explicit consent for us to update your online account details. This is to ensure we meet statutory service requirements and our data protection obligations.
- conducting fitness to practise proceedings and hearings. This may include asking you to undergo medical testing or a health assessment, if this is relevant to assessing your fitness to practise
- sending bundles of evidence in relation to fitness to practise proceedings about you to your representatives (if any, and only if you have notified us that you are represented); contractors/suppliers involved in health assessments; external lawyers; or individuals involved in the proceedings such as witnesses, experts, legal advisers to adjudication panels, and adjudicators
- publishing listings of forthcoming registration appeal, restoration and fitness to practise hearings in the public domain, which may include information such as your name, registration number and the details of any allegations made about you
- publishing the outcome(s) of any fitness to practise hearing(s), including the determination(s), on our website. The information published may include details of any final order imposed upon you or advice given to you, as well as the detailed reasons for reaching the decision
- publishing the outcome(s) of any registration appeal or restoration hearing(s), including the determination(s) on our website. The information published may include the detailed reasons for reaching the decision
- maintaining records of fitness to practise proceedings, social worker registration, restoration and renewal applications, all appeals and reviews, all decisions to close concerns, and all decisions to approve registration, restoration and renewal of registration as evidence of the decisions made. This may potentially assist, for example, where our decisions are subject to applications for judicial review, or regulatory oversight by other bodies. It may also help to avoid the unnecessary further investigation of unfounded allegations
- checking your identity
- conducting surveys and research, including inviting you to participate therein
- enabling you to make payments, for example of your registration fees
- enabling you to set up and make direct debit payments through a payment service provider. Social Work England will receive payment notifications which help us to confirm whether your fees have been paid
- assessing details of your training and qualifications, including to determine whether you are eligible to register as a social worker or have your entry in the public register annotated
- quality assurance of training and education courses and providers
- assessing and acting in accordance with your choices and preferences as regards the communications we send to you, where our sending relies on your consent. There may be some communications we send to you for which we do not rely on your consent, for example in relation to your registration or fitness to practise
- checking to ensure you have completed relevant continuing professional development (CPD), and the administration, review and assessment of your CPD records
- assessing applications for reasonable adjustments, for example, in relation to your CPD requirements
Continuing professional development (CPD) records
How we process personal data related to your CPD records
If you are (or become) a registered social worker, we will ask you to submit CPD records on an ongoing basis, as part of the requirements for renewal of your registration.
Your CPD records may be assessed in the course of processing the renewal of your registration. We will use the information you provide in your records to make sure that you have carried out appropriate CPD.
We could take action, which may include removing you from the register, if (any of the following):
- you do not give us the information needed in accordance with the requirements for your CPD records (this information is available on our website), without good reason,
- the information you have submitted as part of your CPD records does not meet the requirements, without good reason, or
- something within the information you have submitted in your CPD records causes us concern about your fitness to practise.
We use assessors, which may include third party assessors, to review your CPD submissions. They will access the information through a secure portal and will only see records they are allocated to review. They do not see the identity of the person who submitted the record.
If, during our check of your CPD activity, we come across information that might call into question your fitness to practise, we will consider this information in line with our fitness to practise guidance and rules.
We will not routinely inspect your CPD records as part of a fitness to practise investigation, but may decide to do so where we deem it to be necessary to discharge our regulatory duties.
If you raise a concern, we will ask you for relevant details. This may include (any of the following, if not already known):
- your contact details
- if you raise a concern for or on behalf of someone else, their contact details
- details of the concern, including relevant information to help us assess or investigate it
- evidence, or a list of evidence, relating to the concerns raised
- details of witnesses and other people you may have consulted about your concern
We may ask you for other information depending on the nature of the case.
We will use the information you give us to help us assess what action may be necessary. We may go on to investigate, and some cases may progress to a hearing. We are likely to contact you if we need to clarify something you have told us, or if we need more information. If we investigate the concern, we may ask you for a witness statement, and may ask you to attend a hearing. We will use your personal information where it is necessary for the investigation or hearing, in accordance with this privacy notice and other information provided to you in the course of proceedings. If we investigate concerns, we are required to disclose information to the social worker so that the social worker can respond. We will also pass on information to the legal adviser or the adjudicators conducting any hearing.
Our overarching objectives under the Children and Social Work Act 2017 include protecting, promoting and maintaining the health, safety and wellbeing of the public. We may share information about concerns and our investigations where there is a lawful basis for doing so.
In deciding whether to share information, where we are relying on ‘public task/interest’ as a lawful basis for sharing it, we evaluate the need to disclose information, taking into account our duties under data protection law, and individual rights, including the right to privacy. We make these decisions on a case-by-case basis. In doing so, wherever possible, we will try to take your views into account, and we will treat any concerns you have seriously. You can tell us at any time if you do not want us to share information, or if you have any concerns about us sharing information with certain people. However, there may be occasions where our duty to protect the public takes priority over your views or wishes, and we may need to share information in accordance with that duty. We will always do our best to tell you before we do so.
We will generally not share your contact details with the applicant, social worker or provider of the social work course you raised the concern about, but we may need to share some identifying information about you with other organisations in order to investigate your concerns.
For more information about how we use personal information when considering concerns, please refer to our guidance on how we use personal information.
Fitness to practise proceedings
Personal data we might collect or otherwise process if you are involved in fitness to practise proceedings
If you are involved in fitness to practise proceedings, for example as a person raising concerns or as a witness, or because a complaint is made about you as a social worker, we may receive additional personal data from you (or from others about you), including that which we do not collect routinely, but which is sent to us as part of that process.
The nature of the information we receive or otherwise process about you will depend on the nature of the case and the allegations involved. It is also possible that we may need to obtain certain information ourselves during the course of an investigation. The information we may process about you, depending on the circumstances, includes (any of the following):
- details of the concerns raised
- witness statement(s) and exhibits
- if you are a person with experience of social care, details about that care, and your interactions or involvement with, or relationship to, a social worker and/or others such as family members or the social worker’s employer
- if you are a social worker, details about your work, and your interactions or involvement with, or relationship to, those involved in it
- public information, including from social media
- correspondence with third parties about the proceedings
- recordings and transcripts of any hearing(s) (including disciplinary hearings, court hearings, and our own regulatory hearings)
- details about your wellbeing, and any reasonable adjustments you may need to participate fully in the proceedings. Fitness to practise proceedings can impact on the health and wellbeing of all parties to a case. As part of our duty of care, we monitor whether any participants require additional support or reasonable adjustments, and monitor any support or adjustments that we have offered
- court documents including those from criminal, family and or civil court proceedings
- evidence gathered by the police, CPS and/or Local Authorities in the course of a criminal investigation
- documents relating to coronial inquests, fatal accident inquiries or investigations of the procurator fiscal
- information relating to your private life such as text messages, social media content, photographs and other media
Witnesses in fitness to practise proceedings
If you provide information and details of your identity in fitness to practise proceedings, depending on the circumstances, we may share the information you provide and/or your identity with others involved in the proceedings, including the person who is the subject of the concerns. It is also possible that this information may otherwise be made known to those people by virtue of the details you provide.
If you provide a formal witness statement in the fitness to practise proceedings, we will share the information you provide, and your identity, with others involved in the proceedings.
Extra personal data we might collect or otherwise process if you are a registered social worker in England involved in fitness to practise proceedings
The nature of the information we receive will depend on the nature of the case and the allegations involved or concerns raised. It is also possible that we may need to obtain certain information ourselves during the course of an investigation. The information we may process about you, depending on the circumstances, may include (any of the following):
Trade union membership
We may receive this information, for example, if you are involved in fitness to practise proceedings and we receive notes of an investigation or disciplinary hearing conducted by an employer. This information may be explicit or implied, or could be inferred, for example if you are accompanied by a union representative during a meeting with an employer and the notes of that meeting are provided to us. It may be that you tell us this information explicitly if your trade union is representing you in your fitness to practise case.
This may include, for example, someone sending us the results of a paternity test if you have taken one and this is relevant to the concern being raised, or it may be necessary (with your consent) to obtain testing of your hair where there are alcohol or drug concerns. Physical hair and blood samples will be held by our toxicology screening service for up to 12 months.
Biometrics (where used for ID purposes)
Again, depending on the nature of the allegations made or concerns raised, this may include, for example, a voice pattern analysis of a recording alleged to belong to you.
This information may be obtained, for example, from toxicology screening or via a health assessment, if you are subject to fitness to practise proceedings involving substance misuse or other health concerns. Depending on the nature of the allegations made or concerns raised, we may sometimes ask you to agree to toxicology screening, but would provide further information about this if at the time should this become necessary. You can read more information on how we deal with health concerns.
This will depend on the nature of the allegations made or concerns raised, so may apply in some cases.
Contact with employers
We maintain a database of points of contact at employers to help ensure we communicate with the right person when we need information in relation to fitness to practise proceedings. The contact may be informed of (any of the following):
- concerns that are raised about the social worker
- what information we are requesting
- the identity of the complainant
- which witnesses will or may be asked to give evidence
- the closure of a case
The contact will not, as part of our process, be directly informed of the outcome of the case.
Additional information about how we process your personal data in fitness to practise proceedings
You can find additional information about how we process your personal data in fitness to practise proceedings, on the relevant pages of our website.
Enquiries, feedback, and complaints
Personal data we collect or otherwise process if you contact us with an enquiry, feedback, or complaint
If you contact us with an enquiry, feedback, or complaint, the data we may collect or otherwise process includes:
- the contact details you provide to enable us to respond to your request
- the details contained within your feedback or enquiry
We use your feedback and complaints to help us to improve the quality of our services. Find out more information about how we handle feedback and complaints.
Calls to our enquiries team
We keep records of phone calls made to our enquiries helpline. Calls are recorded from the point you connect, including whilst you are on hold. If you are calling our helpline and the call is being recorded, a recorded message will advise you of this at the time. Recordings will be kept in accordance with our retention schedule. Some calls will be downloaded for training and quality purposes, for example for verification of a change of address. If your call is subsequently transferred to another internal number, we will not record the transferred call. We do not record outgoing calls that we make, and we do not record calls that you make to numbers other than our enquiries helpline number.
Freedom of information requests
Information we hold may need to be disclosed in response to a Freedom of Information request. We endeavour to follow guidelines from the Information Commissioner’s Office in responding to requests. This includes through the appropriate application of exemptions to the duty to confirm or deny whether information is held, and the duty to communicate it if so. We will remove personal data from our responses as appropriate.
If you submit a Freedom of Information request to us, we may publish the request, or details of it, and our response. Where we do so, we will not publish information which identifies you. If applicable, we will redact or remove any other personal data mentioned in your request, as appropriate.
Stakeholder relationship management
We record information relating to our stakeholders so that we can build effective relationships and communicate with them. Stakeholders are individuals and organisations who we work with as part of delivering our corporate strategy. We use the information we record about stakeholders to manage the work done by our staff, ensure we hold up-to-date information about the work we have done with stakeholders, and provide relevant information and messages to stakeholders regarding our work.
We use specialist software to help us to manage our stakeholder relationships. We use it to create email distribution lists and to produce reports on our activities, and to assess how successfully we have engaged stakeholders with our work. Access to the information stored in the stakeholder management software is restricted to staff members who have stakeholder management responsibilities as part of their roles.
The information we gather includes (any of the following):
- name of the stakeholder
- contact details including telephone number(s) and email address(es)
- place(s) of employment or appropriate linked organisation(s)
- the type of organisation they work for (e.g. professional network, trade union, local authority, government)
- geographical region
- positions held (job titles)
- the type of role done by the person (for example, whether they are a senior manager)
- information about the person’s area of work (e.g. adult social work, children and families social work, higher education)
- a stakeholder category (Engaged, Priority, To Engage)
- details of Social Work England and external projects and activities with which the individual is engaged
- details of meetings held, including dates, the name(s) of the person(s) at Social Work England with whom it was held, and any notes relating to the meeting
- emails sent to the stakeholder, and whether the email was opened or not
Working for Social Work England
Personal data we might collect or otherwise process if you apply to work for, currently work for, or have worked for Social Work England
If you apply to work for Social Work England, we will ask you for personal data as part of that process. You will be able to see the data we ask for in the forms you complete during the process. The information we may collect or otherwise process about you during the application process may include (any of the following):
- your name
- full contact details, including address(es), email address(es) and telephone number(s)
- date of birth
- gender identity
- eligibility – nationality and immigration status
- details relating to your current employment, including your current salary
- employment history
- details of any self-employment
- qualifications, licences and professional memberships
- application form information which enables you to tell us a bit more about you, including things such as why you are interested in the role, and the skills from which we and the public would benefit if you joined our team
- details of previous employment, including your role(s), responsibilities, work, achievements, and start and end dates
- details of unspent criminal convictions, motoring offences, and police cautions
- details of insolvency or bankruptcy
- details of any time spent outside of the UK
- contact details for your referees
- references provided by your referees
- National Insurance number
- Guaranteed Interview Scheme details and reasonable adjustment requirements.
Upon attending an interview, we may ask you to provide (and we may then collect and process) evidence of your identity and right to work in the UK. For example, your passport, utility bills and other documentation.
During the course of an interview and afterwards, we may make notes of your responses, and record our assessment of your responses and interview performance.
If you are successful in your application to Social Work England, and you are offered the job and come to work for us, we may collect additional information about you. This includes (any of the following):
- the terms and conditions of your employment
- information about your pay and benefits, including any entitlement to a pension and life insurance
- bank account details to enable us to pay you and so that we have a record of the account(s) into which payments were made
- information about your next of kin and emergency contacts, including their relationship to you
- details of periods of leave, including the reasons for the leave
- details of any disciplinary or grievance procedures, in which you have been involved, including any warnings or sanctions issued to you
- assessments of your performance, including in one-to-one meetings, probationary reviews, appraisals, performance reviews and performance improvement plans
- information about your career aspirations and objectives
- plans for your training and development, and details of any training and development undertaken
- information about your health, to enable us support you during or after illness. This could include requests to, and reports from, Occupational Health, a GP, and/or specialist referrals
- information on any disabilities or support requirements you may have, in order for us to provide reasonable adjustments
- if you are asked to have your photograph taken (or to provide one), the photograph and/or image
- if you are included in a recording of a staff meeting, event or initiative, the recording
- information related to your work, such as emails, documents and messages you send or receive
Extra purposes we collect and process your personal data for if you apply to work for, are working for, or have worked for Social Work England
The purposes for which we may process your personal data if you apply to work for, work for, or have worked for, Social Work England include (any of the following):
- managing recruitment. This covers things such as processing your application form, reviewing your application, arranging and conducting interviews and conducting any checks we may need to make, such as Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks.
- Monitoring the effectiveness of our recruitment processes. This could include research into the experiences of applicants
- undertaking pre-employment checks before you start in a role with us, such as obtaining references
- managing your pension
- complying with the Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS), which involves verifying your identity, nationality, immigration status (so that we understand your entitlement to work) and employment history (usually by speaking with people whose details you provide to us so that they can act as referees)
- maintaining information to enable us to manage your pay, leave, absence and performance
- ensuring the continuity of our organisational functions. For example, if you leave employment with us, your work-related emails, documents and other information may need to be transferred to another team member, or another team member may need to be given access. This is so that, for example, we can continue to manage the work you were doing
- investigating incidents, ensuring information security and searching for information. If an internal incident or event arises which we need to investigate, or to ensure the ongoing security of information or monitor compliance with our policies and procedures, or where we need to find specific information (for example to respond to a Freedom of Information request or subject access request), it may be necessary to search, access and manage your work-related emails, documents and other information. This will be done by giving you notice beforehand where appropriate in the circumstances
- business planning and improvement activities
- communicating with you about our activities and matters relevant to your work at Social Work England
- responding to Freedom of Information requests. We may remove the names of our less senior members of staff from the responses we provide, but may publish the names of our senior managers, directors, and board members
Parties with whom we would share your personal data for if you apply to work for, or work for, Social Work England
If you are applying to work for, or work for, Social Work England, then your personal data may also be shared with:
- The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)
- Any third parties supporting our recruitment process
Your rights in relation to your personal data
Your individual rights in relation to your personal data are set out in law as follows:
- To be informed about the data we process about you
- To request a copy of the data we hold about you (known as a ‘subject access request’)
- To ask for inaccurate data to be rectified
- To ask for data to be erased (also sometimes called ‘the right to be forgotten’)
- To restrict the processing of your data
- To object to the processing of your data
- To request data portability, so as data is received in a readable format by another person or organisation
In circumstances where we are relying on your consent to process your personal data, you have the ability to withdraw your consent. If we are relying on an alternative lawful basis for processing your data, such as the public interest or compliance with a legal obligation, which does not rely on your consent, and so there would be no associated right to withdraw.
These rights may be subject to conditions. The Information Commissioner’s Office provides more information about your individual rights.
We will usually respond to requests to exercise your individual personal data rights within one month. We may extend the deadline for responding by two further months if necessary, taking into account the complexity and number of requests.
See your data
Upon request, you are entitled to a copy of the personal data we hold about you, subject to any exemptions set out in law. We may be unable to disclose information which would reveal the personal data of a third party (see paragraph 16 of Schedule 2 of the Data Protection Act 2018). We may refuse to disclose information which would be likely to prejudice our fitness to practise functions (see paragraph 7 of Schedule 2 of the Data Protection Act 2018).
Learn more about making a subject access request.
Correcting your data
If you have an online account with Social Work England, you may update and correct some of your personal data yourself. Otherwise, if you would like to make updates or corrections, please contact us. In some circumstances, we may not be able to agree to requests to change data. If we do not, we will explain why.
Stop us using your data
You may have the right to:
- object to data processing and ask us to stop using your personal data
- ask us to erase your personal data
- ask us to restrict the processing of your personal data.
For more information about these rights, please see the links provided above under 'Your Rights'.
If you want to ask about or exercise any of these rights, please contact us. We will respond to requests within one month. We may not be able to agree to your request, but if we do not, we will explain why. Whether or not we are able to agree will depend on the reasons we are processing your data. For example, we have to use certain types of information to carry out our regulatory functions set out at law.
Automated decision making and profiling
Our applications processes include those for applying to work at Social Work England, join the register, or renew registration as a social worker. We do not use solely automated decision making in any of our applications processes. You must, however, submit all of the documents we need before we can assess any application you make.
Please read the application forms carefully. We sometimes use personal profiles in our research, in particular to help us assess the impact of our work on different groups of people.
Please contact us if you would like to receive copies of your information electronically. We may not be able to agree to all requests. If we cannot agree, we will explain why.
How to contact us
Address: Social Work England, 1 North Bank, Blonk Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S3 8JY
ICO registration number for Social Work England (the data controller): ZA498223
Email address (including to contact the Data Protection Officer): [email protected]
What you can do if you have a complaint
If you raise a query or complaint with us about the handling of your personal data, we will do our best to address and resolve it. You also have the right to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office:
Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)
Version history of this privacy notice
Original date of drafting (version 1): 8 November 2019
Last reviewed: 25 August 2023
Owner: Head of Data Protection and Information Governance
Approval: Executive Director, Regulation