Attending a Hearing
Our fitness to practise hearings are held remotely or in person at our offices in Belfast. Hearings are usually held in public although in some cases a hearing will be heard, or part heard, in private.
Observing a Hearing
Members of the public and the media are allowed to attend hearings which are held in public, whether they are being held remotely or in person. There is a limit to how many members of the public can attend so if you wish to attend a hearing, you should contact us at least 24 hours in advance by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. An observers’ protocol is in place which you will need to read and agree to in writing before being able to attend. Places are allocated on a first come, first served basis. Please dress appropriately as these are formal proceedings. Please note that hearings can be subject to last minute cancellation or postponement.
Hearings normally start at 9.30 am. You should arrive in good time as you will not be able to enter the hearing room whilst proceedings are ongoing. You will not be able to leave the hearing room until the Committee retires. The Committee will retire to deliberate in private at several points throughout the day, and their deliberations may last for any time between 10 minutes and 3 hours depending on the type of decision they are making. Unfortunately, we will only be able to provide you with an approximate time for the hearing to finish.
No filming, digital recording or photography of any description is permitted. Action may be taken against anyone who films, digitally records or photographs any aspect of the hearing. All mobile phones and other electronic devices must be switched off whilst in the hearing room. You may take a manual note if you wish to do so.
It is not possible to interview the Committee, Social Care Council staff, or any of the parties involved in the hearing. You are not permitted to approach the registrant, representatives, or any witnesses to discuss the hearing. However, if you have any questions about the proceedings, please speak to the Committee Clerk.
As a matter of courtesy, all of those in the hearing room are required to stand when the Committee enters and leaves the hearing room. Please respect this courtesy unless you have a disability which would not permit you to do so.
Names of witnesses and service users may not be divulged outside of the hearing room to respect their privacy. Any publication of their names will be in contravention of the Social Care Council’s Fitness to Practise Disclosure and Publication Policy and may be treated as a breach of confidentiality and data protection legislation.
No food or drink should be consumed in the hearing room.
Please remain silent during the proceedings so that the Committee and others in the room are not distracted. Observers are not permitted to address the Committee.
We publish information about the date, time and location of a hearing at least 7 days in advance. We do not provide any further information other than the registrant’s name, registration number and the nature of the allegation(s). The nature of the allegation(s) will be one or more of the following categories:
– Lack of competence
– Physical or mental health
– Conviction or caution for a criminal offence
– Determination by a relevant regulatory body that the registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired
– Inclusion on a list maintained by the Disclosure or Barring Service.
No other information will be published or provided on the specific allegation(s) which the registrant is facing in advance of the hearing.
Following the hearing, a Notice of Decision will be published on the Hearings and Decisions page of our website. Some information may be redacted but the Committee’s decision will always be published. Further details on how we manage fitness to practise information can be found in our Fitness to Practise Disclosure and Publication Policy.
No additional information will be provided to anyone not involved in a hearing before, during or after the hearing regarding any aspect of the hearing until the Notice of Decision has been published on our website.
All media enquiries should be directed to our Communications team by email to email@example.com.