12.3 Arrangements Regarding Recruitment and Selection of Staff
Keeping Children Safe in Education: for schools and colleges (updated October 2019).
- Choice of Candidate
- Quality of Job Description and Person Specification
- References from Previous Substantive Employers
- References with respect to Agency Staff
- Selection Methods
- Disclosure and Barring Checks
- Persons Prohibited from Working or Seeking Work with Under Eighteens
- Seeking Disclosures from DBS
- Overseas Criminal Record Disclosure
- Reporting Systems for Unsuitable Staff
This chapter identifies good practice in safer recruitment and selection. It is not intended to replace the recruitment policies and procedures of individual agencies. It is simply intended to enhance policies and act as a good practice guide for safer recruiting.
For further detailed information on recruiting safely see Recruiting Safely, Safer Recruitment Guidance Helping to Keep Children and Young People Safe.
So as to minimise the risk of employing or engaging an individual who poses a predictable risk to them, all agencies should consider, with respect to candidates (including agency staff, students and volunteers) who will be working with children:
It is a criminal offence for a barred individual to take part in Regulated Activity, or for an employer/voluntary organisation knowingly to employ a barred person in a Regulated Activity role.
Before an organisation considers asking a person to apply for a criminal record check through the Disclosure and Barring Service, they are legally responsible for ensuring that they are entitled to submit an application for the job role. See DBS Guide to Eligibility.
Choice of Candidate
Agencies should develop detailed internal procedures for jobs that involve working with children and young people which clarify allocation of 'human resource' tasks outlined below:
Quality of Job Description and Person Specification
All job descriptions and person specifications should clearly describe the role, responsibilities, accountabilities, knowledge, skills and experience required for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people.
It is good practice to ensure that each employee's specific duty of care and personal responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people are built into job descriptions, Codes of Practice, contracts of employment and disciplinary procedures.
All stated requirements must be expressed in terms sufficiently explicit to allow a candidate's experience, achievements or capabilities to be evidenced.
The person specification should explain how the requirements will be tested and assessed during the selection process. For example: 'In addition to a candidate's ability to perform the duties of the post, the interview will also explore issues to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, e.g. motivation to work with children and emotional resilience to working with challenging behaviour'.
References from Previous Substantive Employers
References are an important part of the safer recruitment process, their purpose being to obtain objective and factual information to support appointment decisions.
All agencies committed to these procedures should have explicit arrangements for provision within reasonable time-scales, of properly structured references from previous employers, which should ordinarily be issued in the name of the head of service (though they may be drafted by a more junior member of staff who has the necessary knowledge and experience).
If a candidate is not currently working with children, but has worked in the past with children - a reference must be sought from that former employer. Refusal or reluctance by an applicant for a former employer to be contacted should be explored further.
For those who have not worked before, consider obtaining a reference from any voluntary organisation they have worked with or from someone in authority such as a lecturer.
Any reference being sought should wherever possible:
An employer reference should also be obtained in respect of internal candidates for posts involving direct contact with children.
So that information of comparable weight is obtained for all candidates, references on all short-listed candidates should wherever possible be obtained prior to final selection.
References should offer a full and frank disclosure of all matters considered relevant by the author - e.g. candidate's reason for planning to or actually leaving her/his post. If all questions have not been answered or the reference is vague or unspecific, the referee should be contacted and asked to provide written answers or further information as requested.
References should be obtained directly from the referee. Prospective employers should not rely on references and testimonials provided by the candidate, or open references and testimonials, i.e. 'To Whom it May Concern'.
References with respect to Agency Staff
Given the proportion of staff currently engaged via specialist employment agencies, it is important that there are systems in place to ensure that only those which can offer safe selection processes are used by those organisations committed to these procedures.
References from any previous substantive employers should be sought as described above and requests to agencies should seek confirmation:
The agency should also be asked to confirm:
All interview panels involved with the appointment of staff to work with children should have a least one panel member who is knowledgeable and experienced in safeguarding and child protection issues. They should also be balanced wherever possible by gender and race and may benefit from the inclusion of independent person(s) as well as immediate line managers and more senior staff.
Interviews may usefully be underpinned by practical exercises, which simulate the working environment e.g. anonymised real-life situation (with precautions taken to ensure no unfair advantage to internal candidates).
Such practical exercises may include:
Disclosure and Barring Checks
The DBS now provides two sorts of certificates, which are of relevance to employers (standard and enhanced disclosures), and one or other must be sought with respect to all candidates who seek to work with children. (Note that the DBS will send the certificate listing the results to the applicant.)
A standard disclosure is available for posts involving regular contact with children (and vulnerable adults), certain professions in health, pharmacy and the law.
Standard disclosures indicate if there is nothing on record or show details drawn from the police national computer of:
Standard disclosures are issued to the individual and copied to the body registered to seek them.
The Enhanced Disclosure in addition to the information provided by a standard disclosure may contain non-conviction information from local police records, which a chief police officer thinks, may be relevant to the position sought.
The requirement to seek an enhanced DBS disclosure currently applies to all those who employ or use volunteers in types of activity called 'Regulated Activity and other Work with Children'.
The definition of 'Regulated Activity and other Work with Children' Enhanced checks will be undertaken where the activities will fall within the definition of Work with Children or Regulated Activity, as used by the Disclosure and Barring Service. The concept of Work with Children includes, but is wider than, Regulated Activity. The term has been adopted by the DBS from 2014 to give a single definition of roles which will be subject to an Enhanced check, which were previously dealt with under various provisions. The term does not alter the relevant activities, it merely clarifies the situation.
The term covers anyone working closely with children or vulnerable adults, either paid or unpaid, on a frequent, intensive or overnight basis. Frequent means once a week or more (except in health or personal care services where frequent means once a month or more); intensive means on four days or more in a single month. Regulated activity can include, but is not limited to:
Persons Prohibited from Working or Seeking Work with Under Eighteens
Both standard and enhanced disclosures will show whether the person is included on the Disclosure and Barring Service's Barred Lists and therefore prohibited from working or seeking work with individuals under the age of eighteen.
It is a criminal offence for individuals barred by the Disclosure and Barring Service to work or apply to work with children or vulnerable adults.
An employer who knowingly employ someone who is barred to work with those groups is also committing a criminal offence.
Seeking Disclosures from DBS
For organisations registered with the DBS, applications by potential employers who can provide a reference number may be made by phone on 0870 90 90 844.
An optional online Update Service is operated by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), designed to reduce the number of DBS checks requested.
Instead of a new criminal records/Barred Lists check being necessary whenever an individual applies for a new paid or voluntary role working with children/Vulnerable Adults, individuals can opt to subscribe to the online Update Service. This will allow them to keep their criminal record certificate up to date, so that they can take it with them from role to role, within the same workforce.
Employers do not need to register, but can carry out free, instant, online status checks of a registered individual’s status. A new DBS check will only be necessary if the status check indicates a change in the individual’s status (because new information has been added).
Registered organisations with 'payment on account status' can order paper disclosure application forms through the registration line on 0870 90 90 822 (also available for general enquiries). Requests must include the name, address and date of birth of the applicant.
If a disclosure reveals that an applicant is prohibited from seeking or working with under eighteens, it is an offence to employ her/him and the Safeguarding Investigations Unit must be informed without delay of the individual's attempt to seek employment.
Overseas Criminal Record Disclosure
Checking via the DBS
The DBS cannot access criminal records held overseas, but it is possible to submit an application while the applicant is overseas.In a small number of cases, overseas criminal records are held on the Police National Computer and these would be revealed as part of a criminal record check. You must still verify the identity of an overseas applicant.
As the DBS cannot access criminal records held overseas, a criminal record check may not provide a complete picture of an individual’s criminal record. For more information please see the Home Office Guidance Criminal Records Checks for Overseas Applicants.
Checking via Embassies
If you are recruiting people from overseas and wish to check their overseas criminal record, you should contact the embassy or High Commission of the country in question. You can find contact details for embassies and High Commissions in the UK on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) website.
You can also contact the FCO Response Centre Helpline on 020 7008 1500.
If the foreign check needs translating, the embassy of the country concerned may be able to help.
The DBS is not involved in the processing of applications made by individuals to overseas authorities and will not be responsible for the contents or the length of time taken for information to be returned.
Certificates of Good Conduct
You should try to obtain a certificate of good conduct and any other references from potential overseas employees. The standard of foreign police checks varies. To find out the standard, you should contact either the authorities in a particular country, or their embassy.
Either you or the employee should obtain a certified translation of the certificate of good conduct. The DBS does not offer a translation service.
The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure
The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) provides protective security advice. This is for companies and organisations that deliver the UK’s essential services.You can find information about overseas criminal records checks on the CPNI website.
These checks should be made clear to candidates at interview. Any offer of employment should be a conditional offer subject to satisfactory clearances being received and checked. When a decision has been made and a successful candidate notified they should be encouraged to contact the staffing team as soon as possible to start their pre-employment checks.
Only when all of these checks are completed and returned should an offer of employment be confirmed. Do not offer a candidate an unconditional offer at any point.
Reporting Systems for Unsuitable Staff
Each agency must have a nominated 'human resource' or service manager whose responsibilities include reporting to the Disclosure and Barring Service and the relevant professional body, any member of staff who (following an enquiry) it concludes to be unsuitable to work with children.