Why do we need a witness statement from you?
We may ask you to provide a witness statement if:
- you have reported an incident about a social service worker
- your name has been given to us as a possible witness by your employer or another person
- we think you have other information that is important.
Witness statements help us understand the facts and circumstances of each case.
Find out more about why we investigate social service workers on our What is fitness to practise page.
Do you have to provide a witness statement?
Witness information is vital to our investigations. Without information from witnesses we may not be able to take action to protect the public, or maintain public trust and confidence in the social service profession.
We understand this process may be difficult and worrying. The caseholder will discuss any concerns you may have before taking your statement.
If you are a registered worker we expect you to cooperate with our investigations and provide statements or other information we ask for to allow us to investigate. This is outlined in our Code of Practice for Social Service Workers.
How do we take a witness statement from you?
We phone or write to you. If you are a social service worker, we may contact your employer first so that they are aware and can support you.
We usually take statements over the telephone. But we can meet in person if we or you feel that a meeting is appropriate.
We will always try to do this on a date, at a time and/or at a place that is convenient for you.
What happens when you give a witness statement?
The caseholder will explain the fitness to practise process and tell you why they need to speak to you. They will let you know that we take notes of responses.
The caseholder will ask for your contact details and employment history, and may ask about your experience and qualifications, if relevant to the case. This helps us understand about roles and responsibilities. We will ask about what you saw, heard or did. We ask detailed questions as we need to have the clearest picture of what took place, so that our investigation is fair. To achieve this, we need you to tell us as much as you can about what happened.
We may also ask you to provide documents.
After the call or meeting, the caseholder will send your statement to you to check and sign. It is important that our record of what you said is accurate and correct. We will ask you to return it to us as soon as possible to avoid any delay in our investigation.
Will the worker we are investigating know that you have given us a witness statement?
The worker knows that we are investigating. We usually tell them if we are taking witness statements but do not normally list all witness names. They may already be aware of this from their employer’s investigation. If we decide that your statement is relevant to the case, we may send it to the worker because it is very important that the worker we are investigating knows what information we have about them, and how we are going to use it. This allows the worker to answer the case against them and give their own explanation.
Will I need to attend a Fitness to Practise Panel hearing as a witness?
Giving a statement does not necessarily mean you will need to attend a hearing. Not every case results in a hearing. If we decide your statement is relevant and a hearing is necessary, then we may invite you to attend a Fitness to Practise Panel hearing to give evidence based on your statement. The caseholder will discuss this further with you nearer the time. You can also view our section on attending a hearing as a witness.
Why do we need a witness statement if you have already given one to your employer?
We must carry out our own independent investigation to establish whether the information we have received affects a worker’s fitness to practise.
A statement that you have given to an employer will be relevant to their process which will have a different purpose to ours.
Can you have someone present when you are giving a witness statement?
Yes. You can have a person supporting you during the call or meeting if it makes you feel more comfortable. This cannot be the worker or another witness in the case.
The person supporting you is not allowed to have any input into your statement.
The incident took place a long time ago. What if you cannot remember what happened?
It is important for you to tell us all that you can remember and in your own words. The caseholder will not expect you to remember every detail.
The caseholder will help you by asking questions, and have copies of documents available which may help you.
Who can you contact if you want more information?
You can contact the caseholder asking you to provide a witness statement if you would like more information or if you would like to discuss the evidence in your statement.