University of Sussex
Meleyal,_Lel_Francis.pdf (1.81 MB)

Reframing conduct: a critical analysis of the statutory requirement for registration of the social work workforce

Download (1.81 MB)
posted on 2023-06-07, 16:24 authored by Lel Francis Meleyal
The relationship between the statutory registration of a workforce and impact upon practice and practitioners is unclear. Little empirical research in relation to the efficacy of existing professional registers has been undertaken. No research has so far been undertaken in relation to the impact of UK legislated registration upon social work practice. A number of high profile cases in health care such as the Bristol, Shipman, Ayling and Allit inquiries (DH, 1994; Crown Office, 2001 & 2005) have drawn attention to the inadequacies of workforce registration systems. Regulatory approaches to modifying the behaviours of the regulated are widely viewed as problematic in a broad range of theoretical literature from diverse disciplinary bases and methodologies. Literatures caution that just as ‘markets’ may behave imperfectly, so may regulatory mechanisms such as workforce registration systems (Ayres & Braithwaite, 1992; Baldwin, Scott & Hood, 1998; Haines, 1999; Sparrow, 2000; Ashworth & Boyne, 2002; Johnstone & Sarre, 2004; Haines & Gurney, 2004; Walshe & Boyd, 2007). The UK Better Regulation Task Force cautions that some regulatory interventions can make a situation worse (2003b). The potential of professional registers generally and the social work register specifically to impact upon quality and improve protection has been questioned since 1982 when the first meetings about the development of a national social work regulatory council were held (Malherbe, 1982). The regulatory body for social work in England, the General Social Care Council (GSCC) came into being in 2002. The first UK register of social workers came into force in 2005 with protection of title implemented shortly after. The first three conduct cases applying sanctions to registrants were heard within a year of the social work register opening. Using a grounded theory approach, in the context of the first three conduct case outcomes, this study sought to elicit the perceptions of qualified social workers on the positive and negative impact(s) of the statutory requirement to register, for both the individuals and the organisations in which they work. This study finds that the first registration conduct case outcomes triggered a reframing of the concept of conduct and that as a consequence, respondents in this study re-positioned their allegiance to registration, and engagement with conduct matters in the workplace. The study considers the relevance of research findings in the context of a changing policy and political landscape.


File Version

  • Published version



Department affiliated with

  • Social Work and Social Care Theses

Qualification level

  • doctoral

Qualification name

  • dphil


  • eng


University of Sussex

Full text available

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date


Usage metrics

    University of Sussex (Theses)


    No categories selected


    Ref. manager