Social Work England’s diversity data in relation to its fitness to practise process indicated that people of Black, African, Caribbean and Black British ethnicity over 40 are over-represented in fitness to practise cases.

The data was published as part of SWE’s initial analysis of diversity data of social workers in relation to its fitness to practise processes.

The initial analysis shows where there are higher numbers of social workers given their demographic group in the regulator’s fitness to practise process compared to the numbers of that group who are registered as a social worker in England.

The initial analysis indicates that the following social workers are overrepresented in the referrals they receive, as well as in cases that reach the hearings stage:

  • those aged 40 and over
  • males
  • people of Black, African, Caribbean and Black British ethnicity
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It also indicates these groups of social workers have higher progression rates from triage to investigation and from case examination to hearings in comparison to other progression rates*.

This analysis has been undertaken after 94% of social workers had shared information on at least one aspect of diversity with the regulator.*

The data will allow the regulator to identify how social workers might be impacted by inequality or discrimination and will show if there are any areas where it needs to address bias in our policies and processes. It will also support employers, leaders and policymakers to drive change and ensure their processes are equitable too.

The initial analysis has identified where there are variances. Further work is needed to understand the root causes of these variances, as there may be a number of reasons why these groups of social workers are overrepresented in fitness to practise processes. This further work is essential in helping Social Work England and the sector understand what can be done to reduce these differences in future.

Colum Conway, Chief Executive at Social Work England, commented:

“We stated in our strategy that we would share data and insights about the social work profession and how we regulate to support national policy development, workforce planning and policy research.

“The report represents a significant first step on a longer journey towards a comprehensive understanding of fairness in our processes and the actions we must take in response.

“We committed to collect diversity data so that we could understand where social workers might be impacted by inequality or discrimination. This will help us to make sure our processes are fair and understand how our policies can support this. We must ensure that our processes do not disadvantage people due to their characteristics.

“We did not wait for the additional diversity data before taking steps to increase confidence in the fairness of our processes and have taken actions which are set out in the report. However, we know there is much more work to be done. We will use the outcomes from our initial analysis as a foundation for further analysis and research, which in turn will lead to further action.”

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