Skip to main navigation

Skip to main content

Privacy notice


About this privacy notice

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) set out your right to be informed about the processing of your personal data. We provide this information through privacy notices such as this one. We may provide other privacy notices at different times when collecting your data, to explain our approach.

If you need this information in another format, or you can’t find the information you are 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 aims, objectives, powers and responsibilities are set out under the Children and Social Work Act 2017 and the Social Workers Regulations 2018.

If you give us your personal data through this website or through other means, Social Work England becomes the data controller for that information.


The purpose of this privacy notice

This privacy notice gives you 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.

Personal data

What personal data means

“Personal data" means data which can be used to identify you. This might be, for example, your name and address, or something more sensitive such as your bank details or health data. Data which falls into some of these more sensitive categories is called “special category data" and we have extra obligations about how we keep it safe.


We use your information to support our regulatory functions.

What we use your personal data for

We use your personal data for the activities we carry out, such as:

  • regulating social workers
  • regulating education and training courses and qualifications for social workers
  • understanding and resolving questions, queries and complaints
  • responding to requests
  • ensuring we operate effectively
  • complying with our legal requirements
  • decision making
  • service planning
  • statistical research including in relation to equal opportunities and diversity


We collect most personal data directly from you, for example if you contact us with an enquiry, respond to a consultation or survey we are conducting or set up an online account and register with us as a social worker. We may also collect your personal data through observation, including when you visit our website. For more information about this, please refer to our  cookie policy.

We may also receive information about you from:

  • people who contact us with an enquiry, complaint or concern about a social worker
  • people who are involved in a case we are investigating about a social worker, such as witnesses, employers, members of the public and fellow social workers
  • people who respond to our surveys and consultations

We may not have any control over the personal data sent to us (and received by us) in this way. However, in this privacy notice we have described the main types of 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).

When you contact us through the forms on our website, the list below contains some of the information we might ask you for:

  • personal contact details, including your name, address, telephone number and email address
  • data that helps us identify you, so that we can be confident we’re talking to the right person. This may include data such as social worker registration number, email address or date of birth
  • personal or professional opinions - for example, as part of a survey or consultation, or when you talk to us on the phone. You may choose to state explicitly your political views, or these may be inferred from the information you provide (or which others provide to us)

From time to time we may conduct surveys, or invite you to complete online forms. This may involve asking you for a variety of information, including to help us evaluate equality, diversity and inclusion in the work we do, and to help meet our duties under the Equality Act 2010. You do not have to provide this information.

Find out more about the information we collect about your visit to our website.


How long we keep your personal data

We retain all of our information in accordance with our legal obligations and official functions, taking into account the purpose for which the data is held and any applicable statutes of limitation.

Where we store your 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, data will be processed in other EEA countries (where the EU General Data Protection Regulation applies) and in some cases it may be processed outside the EEA (in which case we will ensure that appropriate GDPR-compliant safeguards apply). Your data will 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 we have appropriate contractual provisions in place where we transfer your data to another 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, but will include:

  • Legal obligation
    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

  • Public task/interest
    As a public body, we collect and use personal data where this is necessary to perform tasks that are in the public interest or part of our official functions

  • Vital interests
    We collect and use information to protect the vital interests of you or of another individual, for example there is a matter of life or death for you or another person

  • Legitimate interests
    We are also entitled to process your personal data where it is in our legitimate interests to do so, or the legitimate interests of a third party. An example of this could be disclosing your data to a relevant authority to enable the investigation of alleged criminal or fraudulent activity.

  • Consent
    We may on occasion need your consent to process your personal data. In such circumstances, you can withdraw or adjust your consent by contacting us (see below) or manage your preferences within your online account if you have one (please note that online accounts are only available to social workers).

When we process data which is considered to be more sensitive (special category data), such as information about your health, we need an additional lawful basis for doing so.

The Information Commissioner’s Officer provides further information about the lawful bases for processing special category data.


Who we share your personal data with, or who we receive it from

We may share your personal data, depending on the circumstances, with the following:

  • Our employees
  • Consultants
  • Legal advisors and representatives
  • Social workers (for example, this may be necessary where concerns are raised about a social worker)Healthcare professionals, including health assessors
  • Local authorities
  • Local and central government bodies
  • Courts and tribunal services
  • Law enforcement, including the police and prosecuting authorities
  • Survey and research organisations
  • Safeguarding teams, if something in the information we receive indicates a serious risk to you or another person
  • Other public authorities
  • Non-departmental public bodies such as the Disclosure and Barring Service.

In accordance with Section 54 of the Children and Social Work Act, subject to the requirements of the Data Protection Act 2018, the GDPR or other legal requirements, the Department for Education has the right of access to any information relating 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.

Third parties

Information about the processing of your data by third parties

We will only share personal data with third parties when the sharing has one or more appropriate legal bases and is carried out in a way which upholds data protection principles. This includes ensuring that there are adequate legal, technical and operational protections in place when we share your data.

We sometimes use external lawyers to carry out work on our behalf, for example in relation to investigations and fitness to practise proceedings and hearings. Your personal data may be provided to them as necessary for those purposes.

We share information with other people or organisations to carry out our statutory functions and in the public interest. This will include other regulators and authorities.

We may share information with third parties such as Universities and research companies to enable them to carry out surveys or analysis for research purposes. We anonymise data where it is not necessary to share information which could identify you personally. Where we share information with third parties, we will ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place (detailed elsewhere in this privacy notice).

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 or under contract with us. We ensure that all contractors have a legally binding, written contract with sufficient guarantees, as required by the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018.

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 be registered 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 from you (or from others about you), and retain or otherwise process information about you, including your:

  • personal contact details including your name, any former name(s), address, previous address(es), telephone number, 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
  • employment details such as roles, departments, start dates and end dates
  • work history
  • personal or professional opinions from you about others or from others about you. For example, we will collect this information when we conduct consultations about our work, or in email/telephone communications you have with us, or if you raise a concern. Within these communications you may choose to state explicitly your personal opinions or political views, or these may be inferred, from the information you provide
  • information about issues which may affect your fitness to practise. This may include, for example, information about your health, criminal cautions or convictions and any regulatory proceedings initiated by other regulators, and the outcome(s)
  • records of your training and qualifications
  • 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 them to us as part of a concern or complaint

We may ask you for equality and diversity information, which we use to help meet our duties under the Equality Act 2010 and to meet the expectations of the Professional Standards Authority. This may include publishing anonymised statistics to promote discussion. The data we collect will be accessible by our IT and analytics teams, but we restrict access to it and it will not be used to inform any decisions about your registration or fitness to practise. You do not have to provide this information. Some of this information may not be collected routinely, but we may invite you to provide it, or it is possible that 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). This includes (where applicable) information relating to your:

  • race
  • ethnic origin
  • disabilities
  • marriage or civil partnership
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • gender reassignment
  • political opinions
  • religious or philosophical beliefs
  • sexual orientation
  • family, lifestyle and socieconomic circumstances, such as parental and caring responsibilities.

If you are involved in fitness to practise proceedings, for example because a complaint is made about you, it is possible that we may receive additional personal data from you (or from others about you) that we do not collect routinely, but which is sent to us as part of that process.

The nature of the information we receive 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 our investigation. The information we may process about you, depending on the circumstances, may include:

  • 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 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

  • genetic information
    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

  • biometrics (where used for ID purposes)
    Again, depending on the nature of the allegations, this may include, for example, a voice pattern analysis of a recording alleged to belong to a social worker

  • medical information
    for example from toxicology screening, for example if you are subject to fitness to practise proceedings involving the unlawful use of drugs. Depending on the nature of the allegations, we may sometimes ask you to agree to toxicology screening, but would provide further information about this if at the time should it become relevant

  • sex life
    This will depend on the nature of the allegations made but may apply in some cases.

Extra purposes we use your personal data for if you apply to become, are, or have been a registered Social Worker in England

The purposes for which we may process the personal data we hold about you if you are applying to become, are, or have been a registered social worker, include:

  • administering your online account, including during the process of signing up for it
  • processing and managing your application:
    • to register as a social worker,
    • to renew your registration as a social worker,
    • to restore your registration as a social worker, or
    • for social worker register annotation,
    including 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 or amend your registration details
  • publishing your details including your name, registration number, town of employment and registration status, on the public register of social workers and making this register available in different formats to those who may need it, such as employers or other regulators or authorities
  • 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 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 or questions raised or complaints made, about you or by you.
    This may include assessing and verifying information related to your fitness to practise or registration. We may share your personal data and the information you provide (or provided about you) with third parties (such as education and training providers, qualification awarding bodies, other regulators, employers, other authorities such as the police, relevant NHS organisations, external lawyers and witnesses to any incident that is alleged to have taken place) in accordance with our functions as a regulator.
  • publishing schedules of forthcoming fitness to practise hearings in the public domain, which may include information such as your name, registration number, town of employment and the subject of any allegations made against you
  • 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 representatives, external lawyers or individuals involved in proceedings
  • publishing the outcome(s) of any fitness to practise determination on our website
  • checking your identity
  • conducting surveys and research, including inviting you to participate therein
  • enabling you to make payments through
  • 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 your fees have been paid
  • processing details of your training and qualifications
  • quality assurance of training and education courses and providers
  • investigating and assessing details of incidents you report to us
  • assessing and acting in accordance with your choices and preferences as regards the communications you receive from us, where our sending of the communication 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 CPD and the administration, review and assessment of your CPD records
  • compiling statistics
  • monitoring our own performance and helping to ensure the success thereof
  • assessing applications for reasonable adjustments, for example, in relation to your CPD requirements

CPD records

How we process 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 as part of processing the renewal of your registration. We will use the information you provide in your records to make sure you have carried out appropriate CPD.

We could take action, which may include imposing conditions on your registration or removing you from the register, if:

  • you do not give us the information needed in accordance with the requirements for your CPD records (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 reviewers, which may include third party reviewers, to assess your CPD submissions and information. 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. CPD records will usually be kept for two years after the due date for submission, but may be kept for longer, for example if they are found not meet our requirements and result in a fitness to practise process.

Raising concerns

If you raise a concern, we will ask you for relevant details, which may include, if not already known:

  • your contact details
  • if you raise a concern for someone else, their contact details
  • details of the concern, including relevant information to help us assess or investigate it
  • 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.

Our role is to protect the public through our regulatory functions.

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 will ask you for a statement and may ask you to attend a hearing. We will only use your personal information where it is necessary for the investigation or 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 share information about concerns and our investigations where it is in the public interest or we are legally required to do so. Wherever possible, we will try to take your views into account, such as when we first review your concern, to decide if we need to investigate further.

In deciding whether to share information, we weigh up and balance the wider public interest in disclosing information against individual rights to privacy. We look at this on a case by case basis. In doing so, we will 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 concern 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 that information in accordance with that duty. We will always do our best to tell you before we do so.

Depending on the circumstances, the information you provide may mean we are compelled to act, which could mean the information you provide or your identity is shared with or otherwise made known to the subject of the concerns, including by virtue of the circumstances of your concerns or the details you provide. If a complaint or concern is raised by or about you, we need to assess or verify information related to your fitness to practise or registration, or we need to investigate an incident alleged to have taken place, we may share your personal data and the information you provide (or provided about you) with third parties (such as referees, education and training providers, qualification awarding bodies, other regulators, employers, other authorities such as the police, relevant NHS organisations, external lawyers and witnesses to any incident that is alleged to have taken place).

We will not share your contact details with people or organisations you raised the concern about.

Feedback and enquiries

Personal data we collect or otherwise process if you contact us with feedback or an enquiry

If you contact us with feedback or an enquiry, the data we may collect or otherwise process may include:

  • the contact details you provide to enable us to respond to your request
  • the details contained within your request

Calls to our enquiries team

We keep records of phonecalls when you phone our enquiries helpline. 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 for seven days and then automatically deleted, unless we need to store them for training and quality purposes e.g. for verification of a change of address. If the 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 helpline number.

Freedom of information requests

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 and will redact or remove any other personal data mentioned in your request as appropriate, if applicable. For example, we may remove the names of our less senior members of staff, but may publish the names of our senior employees or board members, if you mention these. We endeavour to follow guidelines from the Information Commissioner’s Office in this regard.

Your rights

Your rights in relation to your personal data

The law sets out that your individual rights in relation to your personal data are as follows:

  1. To be informed about the data we process about you
  2. To request a copy of the data we hold about you (known as a ‘subject access request’)
  3. To ask for inaccurate data to be rectified
  4. To ask for data to be erased (also sometimes called ‘the right to be forgotten’)
  5. To restrict the processing of your data
  6. To object to the processing of your data
  7. To request data portability, so as data is received in a readable format by another person or organisation

In addition to the above rights, you also have the following:

  1. The ability to withdraw your consent, in circumstances where we are relying on your consent to process data (we may have 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)
  2. The right to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office, if you do not feel that we have resolved your query or complaint to your satisfaction.

These rights may be subject to conditions. The Information Commissioner’s Office provides more information about your individual rights.

See your data

Upon request, you are entitled to a copy of the personal data we hold about you.

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. We will respond to such requests within one month.

Stop using your data

Asking us to stop using your data

You 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 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; this 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 in law.

Automated decision making and profiling

We do not use solely automated decision making in any of our applications processes. You must, however, submit all the documents we need before we can assess any application you make (for example to work at Social Work England, or to join the register or renew your registration).

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.

Data portability

Please contact us if you would like copies of your information electronically. We may not be able to agree to all requests, but if we do not, we will explain why.

Contact us

How to contact us

Social Work England – 1 North Bank, Blonk Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S3 8JY
ICO registration number: ZA498223

Email address: [email protected]


What you can do if you feel that we have not addressed your query or complaint

If you feel that we have not addressed or fully resolved your query or complaint to your satisfaction, then you have the right to raise this with the Information Commissioners’ Office:

Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow, Cheshire
Phone: 0303 123 1113
Email: [email protected]

Version history

Version history of this privacy notice

Version: 3
Original date of drafting (version 1): 08/11/2019
Last reviewed: 30/06/2020
Owner: Head of Data Protection and Information Governance
Approval: Executive Director - Registration, Quality Assurance, and Legal