Social Work England (SWE) promises action as figures show black and ethnic minority (BAME) social workers are over-represented in fitness to practice cases in England. 

SWE also promised action to address disproportionately low number of ethnic minority panel members making decisions about social workers’ suitability to practise.  SWE’s panels are disproportionately white compared with the profession.

In an interview with Community Care, SWE’s executive director for fitness to practise, Jonathan Dillon, said that it was clear from looking at the referrals it received that “social workers from minority backgrounds are disproportionately represented in our caseload”. 

Data published by Community Care showed that 80% of independent adjudicators sitting on the regulator’s fitness to practice panels are white, with 18% from Black, Asian, mixed-race or other backgrounds. 

The issue SWE is seeking to address is not new.  Prior to SWE taking over the regulation of social workers in England, the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC), that regulated the profession previously, published research in 2017 that confirmed that disproportionate representation of Black and ethnic minority social workers. 

SWE’s executive director for fitness to practise also said: “This is a really important issue for us and something that we are absolutely committed to work on in fitness to practice and at all levels of the organisation. Crucially, we need to get to the point that we can evidence that our regulatory processes do not impact disproportionately on people from a minority background. We are still in the process of developing a system that allows us to do that.”

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