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Guidance for survivors of child abuse while in care in Scotland

This section provides information for survivors of child abuse while in care and their families or friends who may want to raise a concern about a social service worker.

We can consider concerns about:

  • people who work in social services and who are registered with us
  • workers who are applying to register
  • social workers who may no longer be working but are still on our Register.

We can’t consider concerns about:

  • people who work in social services but are not registered with us
  • people who have retired from work in social services except social workers who are still on our Register
  • people who worked in social services but who have now passed away
  • the care service where you experienced abuse.

You can check if a worker is registered by searching the Register or by calling us on 0345 60 30 891.

If you have a concern or wish to complain about a registered care service you can contact the Care Inspectorate.

You can still raise a concern whether or not you:

  • reported the abuse to anyone else in the past
  • reported the abuse to the SSSC in the past (but only if you have new information)
  • have claimed compensation
  • were involved in a police investigation or any court case
  • have given evidence to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry is looking at the abuse of children in care in Scotland. You can find details of how to contact the Inquiry team on their website.

What does the SSSC do?

We are the regulator for the social service workforce in Scotland. Our work means the people of Scotland can count on social work, social care and children and young people services being provided by a trusted, skilled and confident workforce.

We protect the public by registering social service workers, setting standards for their practice, conduct, training and education and by supporting their professional development. Where people fall below the standards of practice and conduct we can investigate and take action.

What action can the SSSC take?

We will consider allegations that a registered worker, or a worker applying to register with us:

  • carried out abuse
  • did not report abuse when they had a responsibility to do so.

If the allegations date back many years it may be difficult for us to obtain the evidence necessary for us to take action. This is because records may no longer be available or because witnesses are either not available or their memory of events has faded due to the passage of time.

If we are investigating allegations that a worker did not report abuse when they had a responsibility to do so then we will consider the worker’s practice against the standards of practice in place at that time.

If we do decide a worker’s practice fell below the standards in place at that time, we then need to decide if that affects their current fitness to practise. There may be cases where a worker’s practice fell below the standards in place, but we decide this does not affect their current fitness to practise. In those cases, we can’t take any action.

Our role is to make sure everyone on our Register is fit to practise. We can only take action if we decide that a worker’s current fitness to practise is impaired.

If we decide the worker’s fitness to practise is impaired the possible outcomes can include the following:

  • A sanction on the worker’s registration which can include:
    • a warning
    • a condition
    • a warning and condition
    • suspension
    • removal from the Register
  • In exceptional cases, take no action.

If the concern should be reported to another body we will do so, for example the police, social work child or adult protection teams or other regulators.

What action can the SSSC not take?

We cannot force the worker to apologise, award compensation or convict anyone of having committed a crime. We can’t help you recover your records or find out about your past.

What will the SSSC do with my information?

We understand the information you give us is sensitive and personal. We will handle your information securely and with sensitivity.

We will let the worker know that we have received the complaint and ask them for their comments. During our investigation, the worker may receive a copy of all relevant information we receive so that they can understand and respond to the allegations against them. You should tell us if there is anything you would prefer we do not send to the worker. We will consider this request but may still need to provide the information. We will not share any information that might compromise a criminal investigation.

Who can I contact for advice and support?

You can contact the following places for advice and support.
Local GP
Breathing Space
Victim Support Scotland
Future Pathways
Wellbeing Scotland
Police Scotland
Rape Crisis Scotland
The Law Society of Scotland

You can find contact information for all of these places in Support and Advice Services LINK.

The links and contact information above relate to external independent websites and organisations. The SSSC cannot guarantee that this information is up to date and we would recommend you contact any organisation directly. The SSSC has not directly vetted these organisations and is not responsible for the content of their websites.

How can I raise a concern about a registered worker?

Before we can consider a concern:

  • we must be able to identify the worker
  • the worker must be registered or applying to register with us
  • there must be an allegation that the worker’s fitness to practise is impaired.

We understand that it can be painful and distressing to talk about your experiences, and you may find it difficult to remember some information. If you cannot remember the worker’s name but can tell us where and when the abuse took place we can try to trace the worker. The more detail that you can give us the better we can consider your concerns.

You can submit your complaint anonymously but it may stop us from being able to investigate the matter fully and result in the investigation being closed. We often have further questions and may need to contact you.

To make a complaint about a registered worker or a worker applying to register please click on the button below to access the form.

Access the form here

If you wish to complain anonymously or do not wish to complete the form please email us at or contact us on 0345 60 30 891 and select the option for the Fitness to Practise department.

The Rules and our decisions guidance

View the documents that set out how we carry out our regulatory function and provide guidance to decision makers on when to apply the different sanctions available to them.

The Codes of Practice

Revised Codeds of Practice came into effect on the 1st of November 2016. The Codes set out the standards of practice and behaviour expected of social services workers and their employers.