Mr Justice Fordham approves Social Work England Interim Suspension Orders (ISO).

In Social Work England v Dean [2023] EWHC 2520 (Admin), the social worker sought to be removed from the Social Work England (SWE) register as part of the SWE ISO’s extension application.

Fordham J however noted that “I do not have the function of deciding to cancel the registration, nor of determining the disciplinary proceedings or bringing them to a halt, nor of making decisions about the investigative and disciplinary process.”

He went on to express concern “about the passage of time” saying:

I record that I am not impressed with the progress in this case during 2023. Nor am I impressed with the description of various features of the case which are said to have caused the delay. I do agree with Ms Bass that this is a case calling for sensitive handling. But it is also a case calling for proper and active progress.”

He limited the extension to only 8 months, saying:

I will extend the ISO for a further 8 months. That gives the right signal. It supervises SWE in the right way. It is necessary and also proportionate. I am conscious that there is a bigger picture, and a wider SWE workload. But I am not prepared to give the Court’s endorsement to any lengthier time frame. If there is an absence of progress, and if a further extension is said to be needed, SWE will have to come back to this Court. I am not seeking to encourage that course. Far from it. By giving a much shorter extension to the one that is sought, there is in my judgment an important signal, safeguard and incentive. Now that the ISO is being extended, and unless a speedy resolution is found, there will in due course be a review mechanism.”

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In the other case, Social Work England v Anderson [2023] EWHC 2519 (Admin), Fordham J approved a 6-month Interim Conditions of Practice Order (“iCOPO”) extension sought by SWE, saying:

“I am also satisfied as to the extension, the nature of the interim order being extended, and the 6 months duration sought. These are all justified as necessary in the interests of public protection and the public interest, including public confidence.”

The allegations which are the investigated concerns in this case include a December 2020 incident outside the work environment, the response to a local authority employer and to the police, and accessing confidential local authority files within the work environment. There is also an issue as to alleged dishonesty.

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