Safe recruitment is central to the safeguarding of children and young people. All organisations which employ staff or volunteers to work with children and young people have a duty to safeguard and promote their welfare. This includes ensuring that the organisation adopts safe recruitment and selection procedures which prevent unsuitable persons from gaining access to children.
The following guidance for is based on current legislation, guidance and best practice and aims to promote consistent practice. It is the responsibility of each agency or organisation, including within the voluntary and community sector, to consider how these principles can be embedded in and applied to their organisation. Where appropriate, this will be in consultation with their personnel or human resources adviser or other advisory bodies.
Throughout this procedure, 'children' refers to any child under the age of 18 years.
'Staff or Volunteers' refers to any adult who is employed, commissioned or contracted to work with or on behalf of children, in either a paid or unpaid capacity.
For additional guidance, see Allegations Against Persons who Work with Children Procedure.
This guidance applies to all adults who have contact with children, young people and Adults at Risk through their work whether in a paid or voluntary capacity. It applies to permanent, temporary and agency staff and to those recruited from overseas. It also applies to staff who do not have direct responsibility for children, but who will have contact with children within the organisation and will be seen as safe and trustworthy and/or have access to confidential and sensitive information e.g. administrative staff, receptionists, caretakers, maintenance workers.
The principles of safe recruitment should also be included in the terms of any contract or service level agreements drawn up between the organisation and contractors or agencies that provide services for, or staff to work with, children and young people. Any service level agreement or contract should contain a safeguarding statement, which makes explicit the standards expected. The agreement should be regularly reviewed.
Section 11, Children Act 2004, sets out the arrangements for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and applies to all key local bodies named under section 11(1) of the Act. One of the key features of these arrangements is ensuring safe recruitment procedures are in place.
Organisations should have a policy statement outlining their commitment to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, young people and Adults at Risk, which it is expected ALL staff and volunteers will share. It should convey that robust recruitment and selection procedures are in place to identify and deter people who might abuse children or are otherwise unsuitable for employment. They are to minimise the possibility of children and young people suffering harm from those in a position of trust.
Safer practice in recruitment means giving consideration to safeguarding arrangements at every step of the process.
It is important to be clear about the mix of qualities, qualifications and experience a successful candidate will need to demonstrate, and whether there are any particular matters that need to be stated in the advertisement for the post, in order to prevent unwanted applications. The recruitment process needs to be planned, including who will be involved, responsibilities and timescales.
The advertisement should include a statement about the employer's commitment to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, young people and Adults at Risk and reference to the need for the successful applicant to undertake an enhanced criminal record check where appropriate.
Once a post becomes vacant or a new post is created the job description and person specification need to be reviewed/agreed to ensure compliance with safe recruitment guidance.
This should clearly state:
*This includes where the post holder will work mainly or exclusively with adults. Some of these adults will be parents, grandparents or carers and will have contact with children and young people.
This should include:
All information given to interested applicants should highlight the importance of the rigorous selection processes and the duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people. It should be clear that proof of identity will be required, as well as a Disclosure and Barring Service check where appropriate.
The pack should include a copy of:
Employers should use an application form to obtain a common set of core data. It is not good practice to accept curriculum vitae in place of an application form because this will only contain the information the applicant wishes to present and may omit relevant details. The applicant form/information pack should refer to the organisation's commitment to safeguarding children. It should obtain:
The same selection panel should both short list and interview the candidate. At least one member of the panel should have undertaken safe recruitment and selection training.
If an applicant is not currently employed in working with children, but has previously done so, then it is advisable to check with the last relevant employer to confirm details of their employment and reason(s) for leaving.
Requests for references should ask:
Requests should remind the referee that they have a responsibility to ensure that the reference is accurate and that relevant factual content of the reference may be discussed with the applicant.
Requests addressed to a candidate's current employer or a previous employer should also seek:
On receipt of references:
A panel of at least two people is recommended, allowing one member to observe and assess the candidate and make notes, while the candidate is talking to the other. One member of the panel should be trained in safe recruitment practice.
The members of the panel should:
Governing bodies of maintained schools are required to ensure that at least one of the persons who conducts an interview has completed safer recruitment training.
In addition to assessing and evaluating the applicant's suitability for the post, the panel should explore:
The interview should also explore issues relating to safeguarding, including:
Children and young people can make a valuable contribution to the recruitment process and their participation should be considered for key strategic and managerial posts as well as posts where staff will have a high level of responsibility for children's day to day care e.g. residential staff.
The following considerations should be taken into account in planning children's involvement:
For posts requiring the post holder to work with highly vulnerable children, e.g. Looked After children, children with disabilities, or posts where staff will have sole care of responsibility for a child/group of children, e.g. staff taking children on residential trips, consideration should be given to the need for an additional safeguarding (Warner) interview. Such interviews were a recommendation of The Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Selection, Development and Management of Staff in Children's Homes (Warner, 1992). The aim is to address areas that are more difficult to assess in the formal interview setting.
As set out in regulations 33-33 of Chapter 4 of the Children's homes regulations and Quality Standards, the registered person must ensure that recruitment of staff safeguards children and minimises potential risk to them. The Bichard Report recommended the assessment of personal qualities during the selection process.
Areas of assessment include:
Training is essential for staff prior to undertaking these interviews.
An offer of appointment to the successful candidate should be conditional upon:
All checks should be:
These facts should be reported to the police and/or Disclosure and Barring Service (if they are not already aware). Anyone who is barred from work with children is committing an offence if they apply for, offer to do, accept or do any work which constitutes Regulated Activity. It is also an offence for an employer knowingly to offer work in a regulated position, or to procure work in a regulated position for an individual who is disqualified from working with children, or fail to remove such an individual from such work.
The level of disclosure requested, i.e. Standard or Enhanced, should reflect the nature of the duties of the post and degree of contact with children or young people or with sensitive, confidential information.
In considering asking a person to apply for a standard or enhanced DBS check, an employer is legally responsible for making sure the job role is eligible. This should be done before countersigning each DBS application form.
To determine which level of check a role is eligible for, refer to the DBS Eligibility Guidance.
Statutory Guidance: Keeping Children Safe in Education sets out detailed provisions on checks and levels of supervision for staff, volunteers, contractors and visitors in educational establishments.
A record should be kept of the date when the disclosure was obtained, by whom, level of disclosure and unique reference number. Disclosure and Barring Service checks should be:
Employers must make a judgement about suitability, taking into account only those offences which may be relevant to the post in question. In deciding the relevance the following should be considered:
Anyone who is barred from work with children is committing an offence if they apply for, offer to do, accept or do any work constituting Regulated Activity. It is also an offence for an employer knowingly to offer work in a regulated position, or to procure work in a regulated position for an individual who is disqualified from working with children, or fail to remove such an individual from such work.
The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), operate an optional Update Service which is 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/Adults at Risk, 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).
For staff who work in childcare provision or who are directly concerned with the management of such provision, appropriate checks must be carried out to ensure that individuals are not disqualified under the Childcare (Disqualification) and Childcare (Early Years Provision Free of Charge) (Extended Entitlement) (Amendment) Regulations 2018. Further information on the staff to whom these Regulations apply, the checks that should be carried out, and the recording of those checks can be found in Statutory Guidance: Disqualification under the Childcare Act 2006.
These 2018 Regulations remove 'disqualification by association' (living in the same household where another person who is disqualified lives or is employed) for individuals working in childcare in non-domestic settings (e.g. schools and nurseries). Disqualification by association continues to apply for individuals providing and working in childcare in domestic settings (e.g. where childcare is provided in a childminder's home).
The arrangements continue to disqualify individuals working in domestic and non-domestic settings if they themselves have been found to have committed a relevant offence.
The same checks should be made on overseas staff as for all other staff, (although it is not possible to conduct overseas Disclosure and Barring Service checks). A 'Certificate of Good Conduct' or equivalent should be obtained.
Where an applicant has worked or been resident overseas in the previous 5 years, the employer should obtain a check of the applicant's criminal record from the relevant authority in that country and seek additional information about an applicant's conduct. Not all countries provide this service and advice can be sought from the Disclosure and Barring Service. The application process for criminal records checks or 'Certificates of Good Character' for someone from overseas varies from country to country. For further information, see GOV.UK - Criminal records checks for overseas applicants.
Applicants from non EEA countries must have a Sponsorship Licence under the UK Visas and Immigration points-based system, and the employer must be registered UK Visas and Immigration to be able to issue such a Licence. For further information, see the UK Visas and Immigration website.
Where staff are recruited through an agency, written confirmation should be obtained that the appropriate checks have been undertaken. Similarly, safe recruitment practices need to be observed with sessional staff.
In relation to each member of staff appointed a record should be kept to show:
Records should be signed and dated by appointing manager/chair of the interview panel.
There should be an induction programme for all staff and volunteers. The purpose of the induction is to:
Maintaining an ethos of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children/young people/Adults at Risk can be achieved by:
Monitoring of both the recruitment process and induction arrangements will allow for future recruitment practices to be better informed. It should cover:
Annual staff reviews are important elements in ensuring safe practice. They should:
Further Disclosure and Barring Service checks on staff should always be considered when:
And in addition when:
A mechanism should be established for confidential reporting or whistleblowing of any behaviour towards children or young people which is abusive, inappropriate or unprofessional. This includes:
This mechanism should:
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