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Our mission is to support & advocate for people with criminal records to be able to move on positively in their lives. Find out more

Social worker (and other health and social care professions)

Social workers and social work students are required to declare criminal convictions when registering with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) . You must also inform the HCPC of formal criminal charges that are pending.

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, which allows some convictions to become spent after a fixed period, does not apply. The law expects prospective social workers to declare convictions even if they are spent (unless they are protected by the filtering regime). The HCPC will then examine the disclosed information case by case, assessing how this affects your suitability to be a social worker or social work student.

Once registered, social workers and students are obliged to tell the HCPC of any new convictions or charges as soon as they occur. Registrants are also required to notify the HCPC of other changes in their circumstances, such as change of address or change of employer. This is a requirement of registration and failure to do so can be considered a conduct matter and could lead to you appearing before a conduct committee.

Other roles that are covered by the HCPC include:

  • arts therapists
  • biomedical scientists
  • chiropodists / podiatrists
  • clinical scientists
  • dietitians
  • hearing aid dispensers
  • occupational therapists
  • operating department practitioners
  • orthoptists
  • paramedics
  • physiotherapists
  • practitioner psychologists
  • prosthetists / orthotists
  • radiographers
  • social workers in England
  • speech and language therapists

The HCPC maintain a register.

More details about the ‘Character’ element of registration are available here.

A criminal record does not automatically bar you from working with young people and vulnerable adults, even if it involved violence. You are required to declare all your cautions and convictions, even if they are spent, unless they are eligible for filtering.

If you would like more information regarding social work employment with a violent past conviction, there is a useful report and case study that was published in 2013 on the Community Care website.


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Photo of Head of Advice, Debbie Sadler
Debbie Sadler
Head of Advice

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