5.1 Safe Recruitment, Selection and Supervision of Staff
RELEVANT LINKSRELATED CHAPTER
AMENDMENTIn October 2021, this chapter was updated to reflect legal changes following EU exit, including guidance on checking the past conduct of individuals who have lived or worked overseas.
This procedure has been developed by Sheffield Children Safeguarding Partnership to provide a framework for partner agencies to ensure that all staff, volunteers and contractors are recruited and supervised in a manner that best ensures the safety of children and young people in Sheffield.
All safeguarding partners have a responsibility to:
- Co-ordinate what is done by each person or body represented on the Board for the purpose of Safeguarding and Promoting the Welfare of Children in the area of the authority;
- To ensure the effectiveness of what is done by each such person or body for that purpose.
To ensure delivery on its functions, SCSP must develop procedures which include the recruitment and supervision of people who work with children. It must ensure that safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children are an integral part of all employment processes. However, whilst SCSP has a co-ordinating role to ensure effectiveness of local organisations in relation to safeguarding children, it is not accountable for their operational work.
The SCSP has a duty to monitor their work by a process combining peer reviews, self-evaluation, performance indicators and joint audits. This will include work on safer recruitment and employment practices.
Following the The Bichard Inquiry Report national guidance was issued to ensure that those employed in all areas of education were safe to work with children. All safeguarding partner agencies, including the voluntary and faith sector, need to ensure that they adhere to this guidance in their own practice. Many other non-education partner organisations of SCSP already have robust and effective employment policies and procedures in place. This now needs to extend to all agencies where workers come into contact with children as defined above. It is also recommended that this procedure be followed when recruiting staff who, whilst not having direct contact with children, have access to related sensitive information.
Guidance for Safer Working Practice for Adults who work with Children and Young People in Education 2019 states that the underpinning principles are that:
- The welfare of the child is paramount;
- Staff should understand their responsibilities to safeguard and promote the welfare of pupils;
- Staff are responsible for their own actions and behaviour and should avoid any conduct which would lead any reasonable person to question their motivation and intentions;
- Staff should work, and be seen to work, in an open and transparent way;
- Staff should acknowledge that deliberately invented/malicious allegations are extremely rare and that all concerns should be reported and recorded;
- Staff should discuss and/or take advice promptly from their line manager if they have acted in a way which may give rise to concern;
- Staff should apply the same professional standards regardless of culture, disability, gender, language, racial origin, religious belief and sexual orientation;
- Staff should not consume or be under the influence of alcohol or any substance, including prescribed medication, which may affect their ability to care for children;
- Staff should be aware that breaches of the law and other professional guidelines could result in disciplinary action being taken against them, criminal action and/or other proceedings including barring by the Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) from working in regulated activity, or for acts of serious misconduct prohibition from teaching by the Department for Education and Teaching Regulation Agency;
- Staff and managers should continually monitor and review practice to ensure this guidance is followed;
- Staff should be aware of and understand their establishment's child protection policy, arrangements for managing allegations against staff, staff behaviour policy, whistleblowing procedure and their safeguarding procedures.
For the purpose of this procedure these standards should apply to staff and volunteers in all SCSP partner organisations, not just educational establishments.
The term 'children' will denote all children and young people under the age of 18 years old.
Each SCSP partner organisation should have its own recruitment procedures. This procedure does not replace those; it is guidance as to what they should include. Further advice about information and support available to those recruiting and supervising staff, contractors and volunteers, should be available from their own human resources department or management committee and should include advice in accordance with the Disclosure and Barring Service regulations particularly in relation to what constitutes a Regulated Activity.
All SCSP partner agencies and their commissioning processes need to ensure that the terms of any contract oblige the contractor to adhere to this guidance. It also requires monitoring of their compliance with the guidance by the partner agency. This should be audited internally by the respective organisation; for some organisations it may be part of an external inspection e.g. OFSTED or the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
The Disclosure and Barring Service checks
The contractor is responsible for ensuring any sub-contractors adhere to this procedure, and staff are checked in the same manner. The SCSP partner organisation must be informed of the outcome of the check, in writing by the nominated manager from the contractor. The host organisation must also be provided with a list of direct employees and sub-contracted staff at least 20 days prior to commencement of their work. The requirement to confirm the identity of contract staff lies with the contractor. Without such written confirmation, work should not commence or workers have to be supervised by a member of staff/volunteer who has already undergone checks.
Contract staff who are not undertaking Regulated Activity or Work with Children and do not come within the DBS Eligibility Criteria e.g. maintenance or building contractors carrying out work in a school, do not have to obtain DBS Disclosures. However if a contractor has the same person working in one children's establishment with frequent opportunity for contact with children then there is a requirement for a DBS check.However, any contractual staff undertaking Regulated Activity or Work with Children should undergo the checks appropriate for the level of work undertaken.
Volunteers are defined as:
"a person who is engaged in any activity which involves spending time, unpaid (except for travelling and other approved out-of-pocket expenses), doing something which aims to benefit someone (individuals or groups) other than or in addition to close relatives".
Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 as amended by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.
When applying for a standard or enhanced DBS check, whether for paid or voluntary positions, it is necessary to consider if the position applied for is eligible – see the Eligibility Criteria:
To qualify for a free-of-charge volunteer check, the applicant must not:
- Benefit financially from the position for which the DBS application is being submitted;
- Receive any payment (except for travel and other approved out-of-pocket expenses);
- Be on a work placement;
- Be in a trainee position or undertaking a course of study that will lead to a full time role/qualification;
- Be a paid foster carer or a member of a foster carer household.
Under no circumstances should a volunteer who has not provided an Enhanced DBS Disclosure be left unsupervised with children.
In certain circumstances Human Resources Department, Children's Social Care, Sheffield City Council may be able to process DBS checks as a registered body on behalf of voluntary sector organisations. However, an administrative charge may apply. Please contact the department on 0114 205 6737 for further information. Schools should ring 0114 250 6775 for further information.
1.4 Guidance and Good Practice
SCSP partner organisations will have their own recruitment and employment policies and procedures. This document is not intended to supersede them, but to act as good practice guidance for organisations to check against their own standards. It is not intended to be a substitute for training on recruitment and employment. It is strongly advised that all those involved in recruitment and supervision of staff undergo appropriate training courses in this field. For larger organisations human resources departments will be the first point of contact, for training, advice and support. For smaller organisations, advice is available from a number of different quarters. Key documents and websites can be accessed at the top of this chapter.
The Sheffield City Council Schools Recruitment Team offers Safer Recruitment Accredited workshops.
For further information on safer recruitment training please contact the SCSP Training Department, or SCSP partner agencies human resources departments or management committees.
1.5 Summary of Safer Practice in Recruitment
Reference to safeguarding children and child protection should now be considered by SCSP partner agencies at all stages of the recruitment process. A commitment to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children needs to be made clear throughout. Adhering to a consistent process of collating, analysing and evaluating information about job applicants is also a vital part of the commitment to safeguarding children.
This should include:
- Ensuring the job description refers to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children;
- Ensuring the person specification refers specifically to working with children, or in a setting where children are present;
- Obtaining comprehensive information from applicants, this should be scrutinised, particularly for any discrepancies or anomalies. These should be checked until a satisfactory outcome is reached;
- Obtaining and verifying independent professional and character references, that specifically request information about an applicant's suitability to work with children, or around, children and take up any concerns;
- Verify an applicant's identity;
- Verify the applicant has the professional or vocational qualifications as claimed;
- Check their employment history and other experience since leaving secondary school and establish the reason for any time gap, which is unaccounted for;
- Verify they have the levels of health and physical capacity required for the post;
Obtain the required checks, undertaking a mandatory check of DBS children's and adults' barred lists, and where appropriate an Enhanced DBS Disclosure.
1.6 Continuing Awareness
Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children does not end when a person is appointed who is suitable to work with children and is committed to their safety. It should be extended throughout the employment and includes issues such as training, supervision, whistleblowing and other aspects of maintaining a safe working culture.
Whilst the vast majority of staff and volunteers are committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, there is a minority who abuse their positions. Some may purposefully seek employment in posts with access to children for the purposes of doing harm. Others may react spontaneously and without thinking, in situations of stress for example, when harm to a child is then committed as a result.
Both situations are abusive, and should be investigated following Allegations against Persons who work with Children (including Staff, Carers and Volunteers) Procedure. Although it is an area of particular difficulty and sensitivity, it is vital that all staff and volunteers are aware of such possibilities, and that these may occur even with experienced colleagues of some standing. Everyone should always seek advice if they have any concerns
The Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) is responsible for overseeing all allegations against a member of staff or volunteer.
2. Safer Recruitment Practice
See also Keeping Children Safe in Education
See Appendix 2: Process for Safer Recruitment more information.
All SCSP partner agencies should have written recruitment and selection procedures that adhere to national and local guidance. These should clearly link to their child protection or safeguarding policy and procedures and have a written statement outlining their commitment to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.
"This authority/school/college is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and expects all staff and volunteers to share this commitment."
The word 'organisation' or similar can be substituted accordingly for other partner agencies. This statement should be included in:
- Publicity materials;
- Recruitment websites;
- Candidate information packs;
- Person specifications;
- Job descriptions;
- Competency frameworks;
- Induction training.
2.2 Planning and Advertising
Detailed planning of all stages of the recruitment process is vital to ensure that the successful applicant is the right person for the job, and is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. It is essential that adequate time is allocated for all associated tasks so that safeguarding issues are not overlooked or skimped upon. For example, the date of interview should be set to allow adequate time for references on candidates to be obtained prior to their attendance at interview.
Once membership of the interview panel has been agreed upon, a timetable should be drawn up at this stage of what is to be done when and by whom. It is good practice to include one member of the panel who has been accredited or trained in safer recruitment, a mandatory requirement in all school appointments. It is also recommended that the panel members are involved at all stages of the recruitment process, to ensure continuity. This should also reduce the possibilities of errors or oversights being made.
All documentation that forms the candidate application pack should clearly state the extent of relationships and contact with children required for the post and the degree of responsibility that such involvement takes.
Advertisements should clearly state the organisations commitment to safeguarding and the need for a DBS check, as well as the usual information in relation to job title, salary, and qualifications etc.
2.3 Application Form
Application forms should be used in preference to curriculum vitae. In some organisations, CVs are not accepted. Applicant packs should contain guidance stating this, and instructions on how to complete the application form. This ensures that a core set of data is available for each candidate. Discrepancies or anomalies are, therefore, more easily spotted.
Application forms should require the following:
- Identity details: full current and former names, date of birth, current address, and National Insurance number. All of these help to ascertain a candidate's correct identity. It is recommended that details of date of birth are also included on the equal opportunities monitoring form, in order to avoid age discrimination. Responsibility for checking this should be assigned to one member of the selection panel;
- Relevant academic/professional/vocational qualifications, date and awarding body, including registration with professional bodies, which will be checked;
- Full chronological history of full or part time employment since leaving secondary school, including voluntary work, education and training. Reasons for leaving jobs should be requested, and any gaps should be clearly accounted for;
- A declaration of any family or close relationships to existing employees or employers, including voluntary workers;
- Two referees, one of which should be the current or most recent line manager. If an applicant is not currently working with children but has done previously, a reference should be obtained from their line manager from that employment. It should be made clear that references will not be acceptable from relatives or from people clearly writing as just a partner or friend. Personal references should be considered as a last resort;
- A statement should be requested in relation to the candidate's suitability for the post. They should state what qualities and experience they have that, they believe, makes them suitable for the post. It should clearly relate to the person specification for the post.
The application form should state that the post is a 'regulated position' and therefore the Exceptions Amendment Order of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 applies. Therefore any convictions, cautions, bind-overs that would normally be considered 'spent' should be declared for the purpose of applying for the post. Any such details disclosed should be sent with the form in a separate envelope marked 'confidential'. Note that, since 29 May 2013, certain old and minor cautions and convictions are no longer subject to disclosure – see the Disclosure and Barring Service Filtering Guide.
A statement should be signed by the applicant to state that they are not on the Children's Barred List, subject to sanctions imposed by a regulatory body, for example the General Medical Council (GMC), or the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), and that they are not disqualified from working with children. It should also state that:
- The successful candidate will be required to provide an Enhanced DBS Disclosure check;
- References will be sought on those short listed and that previous employers may be approached to verify details provided before interview;
- If the candidate is currently working with children, or has done in the past, either on a paid or voluntary basis, employers will be asked if there have ever been any disciplinary offences against children or there have been any child protection concerns. If so, the outcome of the enquiry or disciplinary procedure needs to be ascertained;
- Providing false information is an offence which could result in the application being rejected or summary dismissal if the applicant has already taken up the post. The matter could be reported to the police. For further advice please contact the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO);
- The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) will be contacted, to ensure that an applicant has not been barred from working with children or adults;
- Where a role involves engaging in regulated activity relevant to children, a statement should be included in the application form or elsewhere in the information provided to applicants that it is an offence to apply for the role if the applicant is barred from engaging in regulated activity relevant to children.
2.4 Job Description
The job description must clearly state the main duties and responsibilities of the post, as well as the post holder's responsibilities in terms of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people with whom they come into contact. The degree of responsibility for safeguarding children held by the post holder must be clearly outlined.
2.5 Person Specification
- Include details of qualifications, experience, and any other pre-requisites for the post in relation to working with children or young people;
- Outline the competencies and qualities that the successful applicant should be able to evidence;
- Describe how the above will be assessed at interview along with issues of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, such as:
- Motivation for wanting to work with children, where appropriate;
- Building and maintaining appropriate relationships with children, including issues of boundaries;
- Coping strategies for working with, or around children, with challenging behaviours;
- Attitudes concerning the use of authority and discipline when working with children.
2.6 Candidate Information Pack
The candidate information pack should include a number of standard documents such as the application form, with explanatory notes to assist with completion, job description, person specification, terms and conditions, and information about the organisation. However, the candidate information pack should also state other information in relation to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. This should include:
- Policies regarding the recruitment of ex-offenders;
- The organisation's child protection or safeguarding policy statement.
SCSP partner organisations human resources department can provide guidance in how to compile the candidate information pack. For example the Human Resources Department, Children's Social Care, Sheffield City Council, (SCC) has a safeguarding toolkit available for use.
2.7 Scrutinising and Short Listing
It is advised that one person from the short listing panel is nominated to scrutinise all applications for gaps or anomalies, before the actual short listing takes place. Schools and colleges should ensure that at least two people carry out the shortlisting exercise (it is recommended that those who shortlist carry out the interview for a consistent approach).
Each form should be checked to ensure it has been accurately and fully completed. If not, it should be rejected and returned to the applicant. Any anomalies or gaps should be noted to check with the candidate if they are invited to interview. Gaps in employment, frequent changes in employment without a career or salary progression, or a move from permanently working with children to temporary, agency or supply work also need to be explored with the candidate.
All applicants should be assessed according to the criteria contained in the person specification, and the same standards applied to each application.
In schools and colleges, shortlisted candidates should be asked to complete a self-declaration of their criminal record or information that would make them unsuitable to work with children. Self-declaration is subject to Ministry of Justice guidance on the disclosure of criminal records, further information can be found on Pre-Employment Screening Guidance for Applicants (GOV.UK)
- If they have a criminal history;
- Whether they are included on the barred list;
- Whether they are prohibited from teaching;
- Whether they are prohibited from taking part in the management of an independent school;
- Information about any criminal offences committed in any country in line with the law as applicable in England and Wales, not the law in their country of origin or where they were convicted;
- If they are known to the police and children's social care;
- Have they been disqualified from providing childcare; and
- Any relevant overseas information.
This information should only be requested from applicants who have been shortlisted. The information should not be requested in the application form to decide who should be shortlisted.
Applicants should be asked to sign a declaration confirming the information they have provided is true. Where there is an electronic signature, the shortlisted candidate should physically sign a hard copy of the application at point of interview.
The purpose of a self-declaration is so that candidates will have the opportunity to share relevant information and allow this to be discussed and considered at interview before the DBS certificate is received.
References are an integral part of checking a candidate's suitability to work with children, by obtaining accurate and impartial information about their work history and character. Referees should always be approached directly by the agency who is conducting the interviews, not via the applicant. References should always be sent to a named individual, who should respond in writing. This should be a senior person with appropriate authority (if the referee is school or college based, the reference should be confirmed by the headteacher/principal as accurate in respect to disciplinary investigations).
Two references should be requested, one from the current or previous employer, and one other who can objectively comment on the applicant's character, for example another previous employer, or an educational referee. References from relatives or from people writing solely as friends or partners are not acceptable. In the case of an applicant who is not currently working with children but has in the past, a reference from that period of employment should be obtained.
It is essential that adequate time is allowed in the recruitment process so that references can be obtained prior to interview. If references have not arrived prior to the interview day, every effort should be made to obtain them including receiving them by email in order to have all necessary information on which to assess candidates, ensuring that electronic references originate from a legitimate source.
In the event that references do not arrive prior to interview, no offer should be made, informal or otherwise, until they have been received and assessed to be satisfactory. Interviewing organisations will respect if a candidate does not want their current employer contacting for a reference prior to interview. However, the candidate will need to agree to proceed to seek references immediately after interview. This should be pursued without making any offer of employment at this stage.
Referees must be contacted to clarify content where information is vague or insufficient information is provided. The information on the application form must be compared with that in the reference and any discrepancies taken up with the candidate. The reason must be established for the candidate leaving their current or most recent post, and any concerns must be resolved satisfactorily before appointment is confirmed.
2.9 Checks before Interviews
Any other information that the applicant has included on their application form that cannot be verified by references, should be checked independently prior to interview. This may include specialist qualifications, or previous employment experience working with children for example. In such cases, telephone enquiries should be made requesting written confirmation to be sent to the interviewing agency. Membership of professional bodies should also be verified at this time. This should be done prior to an offer of appointment.
2.10 Involving Children and Young People
It is recommended that the recruitment process involves children and young people, whenever possible. This may take the form of separate interview panels of young people, supervised and observed by a member of staff. Another option would be for candidates to conduct a session with children or young people as they would be expected to do so if they were employed. At the least it should involve a young person giving a tour of the establishment to prospective employees, accompanied by a member of staff, or experienced volunteer.
2.11 Invitation to Interview
The letter of invitation to interview, as well as practicalities such as time, venue, directions, panel members etc. should detail the structure of the interview and make reference to the specific methods of assessing candidates' suitability to work with children. This may be an interview panel with young people, leading a session, or giving a presentation for example, which will be used as part of the recruitment process.
The letter should also emphasise if a DBS Disclosure is required, the successful candidate will be required to complete the DBS form immediately after accepting the offer of employment. It should also state that identity checks will need to be undertaken and what documentation is, therefore, necessary to bring to the interview. This should be either a current passport, or photo driving licence, or full birth certificate with an accompanying recent utility bill or financial statement with candidate's name and current address. Where appropriate, documentation to substantiate a change of name should be provided to the panel. (See Appendix 1: Safer Recruitment Acceptable Identity Documents for a list of acceptable documents.)
Original certificates of professional, vocational and academic qualifications should only be accepted. If originals cannot be produced by the candidate, the candidate should obtain a replacement document or written confirmation from the awarding body.
Copies of all identifying documents and certificates must be taken by the interview panel and kept in the applicants' files.
2.12 Interview Panel
In most cases it is recommended that at least three interviewers sit on the panel, as this allows for a wider range of opinions on each candidate. This lessens the possibility of disagreements over what a candidate said, or differences of opinion in a person's suitability to work with children.
It should be ensured that panel members:
- Are sufficiently senior to make decisions about appointments;
- Are suitably trained to interview for posts that involve working with children, i.e. That one panel member has undertaken safer recruitment training;
- Have met prior to interview to ensure that they are all in agreement about the necessary standards for the post; have agreed what questions to ask candidates and who will pose which questions; and have agreed how to assess candidates against the person specification;
- Establish specific supplementary questions for each candidate based on issues arising from application form or references, if appropriate.
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.
Face to face interviews should always be conducted, even if there is only one suitable candidate. Competency based interviewing should now be used. This requires that a standard set of questions are compiled to ask all candidates, but that supplementary queries can be used to drill down further to ascertain candidates suitability for working with children and their attitudes to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. Hypothetical questions should be avoided, because they allow theoretical answers. It is more useful to ask competency based questions, to ascertain how they have responded to certain situations in the past, or to assess their level of understanding of particular issues. In certain circumstances, such as residential homes, additional questions should be asked (Warner interviewing). Please contact Human Resources, Children's Social Care, Sheffield City Council for further information.
Advice about how to undertake a competency based interview should be available from human resources departments of SCSP partner agencies. Voluntary organisations should contact Council for Voluntary Services for details of training and/or advice. Competency based interview training is available from schools recruitment team.
2.14 Scope of Interview
As well as ascertaining each candidate's suitability for the post through structured interviewing, and any other assessment procedure, it is essential that the panel should also examine:
- The applicant's attitude towards children and young people;
- Their capacity to endorse the organisation's stance on safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children;
- Any anomalies or concerns arising from the application form;
- Any gaps in employment or study since leaving secondary school.
Candidates should be asked if they wish to declare anything prior to a DBS Disclosure being requested. They should also be asked if there are any issues they wish to discuss in relation to references, if they have not already been received.
All information considered in decision making should be clearly recorded along with decisions made.
2.15 Pre-appointment Checks
Once a decision has been made on the most suitable candidate, the process of ensuring that they are committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children should continue. It is recommended that no offer, conditional or otherwise, is made until all of the following have been received, if they have not been provided prior or at interview:
- Two satisfactory references (see Section 2.8 References);
- Confirmation of the candidate's identity (see Appendix 1: Safer Recruitment Acceptable Identity Documents);
- A check of the Children's and Adults Barred Lists (see Section 2.17, DBS Disclosure) and, if required, a satisfactory Enhanced DBS Disclosure;
- Confirmation of medical fitness as required for the post e.g. Physical activities with children;
- Confirmation of qualifications;
- Confirmation of membership of a professional organisation;
- Confirmation of the person's right to work in the UK.
It should be noted that it can be some time before DBS Disclosures are completed. If it is essential for an employee to start work before such checks are received, please see Appendix 3: Safer Recruitment DBS Risk Assessment Pro-forma: Employees and Volunteers. Also please see Appendix 1: Safer Recruitment Acceptable Identity Documents for a checklist of suitable documents to confirm identity.
If any information is received about a candidate at this stage, which disputes anything they previously stated, clarification about the situation should be sought by the human resources/personnel department of the organisation. For voluntary sector organisations, the manager should discussion it with their management committee.
All checks should be confirmed in writing, and records kept in the candidate's personnel file.
If any of the following occur, the candidate must be reported to the police:
- Their name is on the Children's or Adults' Barred Lists and/or a DBS disclosure states they have been disqualified by a court from working with children;
- There are serious concerns about his/her suitability to work with children.
The police may also be contacted if an applicant has provided false information on their application form. However, this depends on the particular circumstances. Please contact the Local Contacts Local Authority Designated Officer for further information and advice.
The candidate should also be reported to the agency's relevant government department e.g. Department for Education Safeguarding Unit.
The employer must ask for proof of identity, to confirm that the candidate is who s/he claims to be. Identifying documents such as passport, driving licence or birth certificate must be provided in conjunction with documents that prove current address. In summary, proof of identity must include name, date of birth, and address. Some form of photographic identity should also be seen. See Appendix 1: Safer Recruitment Acceptable Identity Documents, for a list of acceptable documentation.
2.17 DBS Disclosures
Certain posts and voluntary work are subject to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 Exceptions Amendment Order 1975 (as amended). These include the following 'regulated positions':
- Any work in schools, youth or children's centres or other places of work where children and young people are present;
- Any post that requires unsupervised contact with children made under arrangements by the child's parents/carers, the child's school or registered day care providers;
- A position of governor or member of management committee for an organisation that regularly works in the presence of, or care for, children, or training, supervising or being in sole charge of children;
- Any post which involves regularly caring for, training, supervising or being in sole charge of children under the age of 18;
- The minimum age at which someone can be asked to apply for a DBS check is 16 years old.
Disclosure of any convictions, cautions, bind-overs which they have received should be requested on the job application form. Any such details must be declared even if they would be considered 'spent' in other circumstances. If a person who has made such disclosures is selected for appointment, they should ask be asked to apply for an Enhanced DBS Disclosure to verify their declarations.
Note that, since 29 May 2013, certain old and minor cautions and convictions are no longer subject to disclosure – see the Disclosure and Barring Service Filtering Guide.
Organisations who are entitled to use the DBS checking service can ask successful job applicants to apply for one of the following types of check depending on the job role.
- Standard check;
- Enhanced check;
- Enhanced with a barred list check.
Find out more about the types of criminal record check available through the DBS.
For more information see Appendix 3: Safer Recruitment DBS Risk Assessment Pro-forma: Employees and Volunteers.
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.
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 Eligibility guide for standard DBS checks (GOV.UK).
2.18 Commencing Employment Awaiting DBS Disclosures
If a person is on the Children's Barred List, details of this will be included on an Enhanced DBS Disclosure, provided the appropriate box has been ticked on the DBS application form. A separate check of the Children's Barred List will not be necessary unless the DBS Disclosure has not been received at the commencement of employment. If employment is commenced before the DBS Disclosure is obtained, the new member of staff/volunteer may need supervision when working with children, depending on what is already known about them, their previous experience and level of responsibility. If little is known about them and references have provided limited information, the level of supervision prior should be high. For those with more experience, and comprehensive satisfactory references the level of supervision may be less. See Appendix 3: Safer Recruitment DBS Risk Assessment Pro-forma: Employees and Volunteers.
Whatever level of supervision is required should be planned at the commencement of employment, communicated to the new member of staff/volunteer as to the level of supervision, why this is necessary and who will be the supervisor. This should be reviewed every two weeks until the Disclosure is received.
2.19 Portability of DBS Disclosures and the Disclosure and Barring Service Update Service
It is good practice for organisations to only accept checks that have been carried out by them. A new check should also be conducted for an existing employee or volunteer if there is a significant change in duties, or level of access to children There is no official expiry date for a criminal record check issued by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
Any information revealed on a DBS certificate will be accurate at the time the certificate was issued. Organisations should check the date of issue on the certificate to decide whether to request a newer one. In certain employment sectors a new criminal record check may be required periodically.
It should be noted that the Disclosure and Barring Service state that organisations accepting previously obtained Disclosures do so at their own risk. Organisations may also be required by law to carry out a fresh check of the DBS children's and/or adults' barring lists in accordance with sector-specific guidance. A comprehensive risk assessment, as outlined above, (Appendix 3: Safer Recruitment DBS Risk Assessment Pro-forma: Employees and Volunteers should be undertaken. See DBS Code of Practice for further details.
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/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).
2.20 DBS Disclosure for Visitors
It is not required to obtain DBS Disclosures for visitors who will only have contact with children on an ad hoc or irregular basis for short time periods. But it is recommended that they sign in and out of visitor books, and are accompanied whilst on the premises by a member of staff or volunteer. The Children's Barred List should be consulted in such circumstances.
Examples of people who do not need DBS Disclosures are:
- Visitors to the organisation, who have brief contact with children and will be accompanied by a member of staff or volunteer;
- Visitors or contractors who come on site to carry out repairs or maintenance and who will not be in the company of children unsupervised;
- Volunteers, including parents, who accompany staff on one off trips, outings, or events e.g. Sports days, school fetes etc. that do not include overnight stays;
- Children under the age of 18 who are undertaking work placements in another establishment e.g. in a school. However, there may be some exceptions as some children do have criminal records. The placing organisation should ensure that the child is suitable for the placement and the host establishment is entitled to ask for evidence of a check if there is any concern;
- People who are on site after hours, when children are not on the premises e.g. cleaners, or people hiring the accommodation for local events.
2.21 Children's Barred List and DBS Disclosures on Overseas Candidates
Children's Barred List checks and DBS Disclosures should be obtained on all overseas candidates who are being considered for appointment. This includes applicants who were born in the UK, but whose most recent period has involved living abroad.
In addition, criminal records checks should be undertaken with countries where the candidate has lived or worked. This should take the form of a certificate of good conduct. These will usually be in the administration language of the country, and therefore may require translation into English. The candidate is responsible for bearing the cost of obtaining the certificate of good conduct from their embassy, as well as the translation. Advice can be obtained from the DBS Check Requests Guidance for Employers (GOV.UK website) in relation to criminal record checking overseas.
Following the departure of the UK from the EU, the TRA (Teaching Regulation Agency) Teacher Services system will no longer maintain a list of those teachers who have been sanctioned in EEA member states. This came into effect on 1st January 2021 and therefore with immediate effect candidates from overseas must undergo the same checks as all other staff in schools, including obtaining an enhanced DBS certificate with barred list information. This still applies even if the candidate has never been to the UK.
- When recruiting, you must:
2.22 Managing Disclosure Information
If information is revealed on a DBS Disclosure, the panel should consult with their human resources department, DBS registered body or management committee. An assessment should be undertaken by a member of the panel. In making a decision about the relevance of disclosed information, the following should be taken into consideration:
- The nature of the conviction/caution etc.
- The nature and circumstances of the offence;
- The age at which the offence took place;
- The frequency of the offence.
2.23 Renewing DBS Checks for Existing Staff/Volunteers
Renewing DBS checks on existing staff/volunteers is at the discretion of the organisation. Good practice suggests that they should be renewed every three years, unless the individual has subscribed to the Disclosure and Barring Service Update Service. However, if information comes to light of any concern, an Enhanced DBS Disclosure should be requested immediately. See DBS website for further information.
Only when all checks have been made and the panel is satisfied that to the best of their knowledge the candidate is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, should an unconditional offer of appointment be made.
2.24 Retrospective DBS Checks
Whilst the majority of agencies will be carrying out DBS Disclosures on new staff, or renewing them for existing staff, there may be some circumstances when agencies will be undertaking retrospective checks on staff. In such situations, there needs to be agreement between personnel departments and senior management as to how this will be processed. This includes a definite list of which posts need to be retrospectively DBS checked, and a timetable for checking. Records should be kept of which staff have been checked, although the results of the Disclosures should not be included on the list. Dates of the next checks should be made, and a method of flagging such reminders established.
2.25 Childcare Disqualification
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 Children 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.
3. Post Appointment Induction
All newly appointed staff and volunteers should undergo an induction programme. This is specific to the organisation and, therefore, is regardless of previous experience. The induction period should be designed to:
- Provide training and information about the organisation's policies and procedures, particularly in relation to safeguarding children;
- Provide child protection training for new staff/volunteers;
- Support new staff/volunteers in the most appropriate manner for their position;
- Inform new staff/volunteers of the conduct and behaviour that is expected;
- Allow new staff/volunteers opportunities to discuss any problems or anxieties that may arise;
- Ensure that any concerns that the line manager or mentor may have about the person's suitability or capability to undertake the work is addressed from the outset;
- Ensure that any concerns about the person's commitment to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children are addressed immediately.
The range of policies and procedures in relation to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children will be dependent on the individual establishment, but should include those of the organisation, as well as Child Protection Procedures such as how to refer concerns about children who are likely to suffer Significant Harm - see Making a Referral following the Identification of Child Safety and Welfare Concerns Procedure following the identification of child safety and welfare concerns.
All new staff and volunteers should be aware:
- How to access organisational policies and procedures, as well as those agreed by SCSP. This should include those related to safeguarding, and also include disciplinary, capability and whistleblowing;
- What standards of conduct, behaviour and safe practice are expected by staff, volunteers and children;
- How to raise any concerns, and with whom.
4. Maintaining a Safe Culture
Safeguarding issues do not stop once someone has been successfully recruited. It is vital that all staff and volunteers are appropriately trained and inducted in relation to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. This ensures that they have a level of awareness appropriate to the type of job they are doing and the seniority of the post they hold. If they have any concerns about the welfare of children, they should feel confident that in raising such concerns they will be taken seriously.
All SCSP partner agencies should ensure that their staff and volunteers are adequately trained from the beginning of their employment, so that they can recognise when a child may need safeguarding, and know how to respond to such concerns. Staff, volunteers and managers should be able to work effectively within their own agency, as well as in the multi-agency arena. This will be best achieved by a combination of single agency and multi-agency training courses. However, it is recognised that not all SCSP partner agencies will be able to offer single agency training e.g. small voluntary sector projects. In such situations recourse to external safeguarding training courses should occur.
SCSP partner agencies should ensure that their staff involved in recruitment undergo safer recruitment training, to ensure that those employed are committed to safeguarding children.
For advice and information on all issues regarding safeguarding training please contact the SCSP Training Department on 0114 205 3485, or SCSP partner agencies human resources departments or management committees. The Sheffield City Council Schools Recruitment Team offers Safer Recruitment Accredited workshops. For more information contact the team on 0114 2930924. For more information see the SCSP training website.
All SCSP partner agencies, whose staff and volunteers work with children or families, must have policies that set out standards of formal supervision. Supervision should take place with a line manager, or designated other. If the supervisor is not the line manager, systems of communication should be agreed so that the line manager is fully aware of the progress of the member of staff/volunteer, or highlight areas of concern. Supervisors should be available to staff/volunteer to provide advice and expertise, and be able to make decisions in relation to areas of difficulty for their staff/volunteer. This may be dependent on their level of experience.
All concerns regarding the safety and wellbeing of children should be raised by the member of staff/volunteer immediately they become apparent, with the line manager. Ongoing child protection issues should be discussed in supervision, so that good practice of staff/volunteers in relation to safeguarding children can be maintained. Roles and responsibilities should also be discussed, to ensure that staff/volunteers are operating within their designated job descriptions. Managers or other supervisors with child protection responsibilities should also regularly audit case recording in files to ensure standards are maintained.
If a member of staff/volunteer has developed physical or psychological problems that they feel are having an effect on their professional competence, they have a duty to report this to their line manager. Personal and professional support should then be offered. However, confidentiality cannot be guaranteed if such difficulties raise concerns about the safety of children.
There may be particular circumstances in which additional support should be available, e.g. allegations against colleagues or complex cases of abuse.
Risk assessments should also be conducted in relation to staff/volunteer safety and wellbeing. Whilst it is the duty of employers to ensure that their staff/volunteers are safe, it is also the responsibility of employees to inform their managers of any concerns they may have in this area, so that remedial action can be taken.
4.3 Unsuitable Staff/Volunteers
If concerns are highlighted regarding a member of staff/volunteer's suitability to work with children, reference should be made to the Allegations Against Persons who Work with Children (including Carers and Volunteers) Procedure. Advice can be sought from the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO).
SCSP partner agencies should nominate a named officer whose responsibilities include reporting relevant staff/volunteers to the appropriate professional body, and the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). Such reporting should only occur after the enquiry has taken place.
4.4 Responsibilities of Management
Senior management and management committees/board of governors in all organisations should ensure that the following are in place for all staff and volunteers to safeguard and promote the welfare of children:
- Adequate training for all staff/volunteers working/in contact with children and families;
- Up-to-date child protection procedures that should be adhered to when there are concerns that a child is at risk of, or is suffering, Significant Harm;
- Formal support and supervision for those working with children and families. This should address practice standards, professional conduct, and issues related to working with children and families;
- Complaints and whistleblowing procedures for service users, staff and volunteers to raise concerns - see also Section 4.5, Whistleblowing.
All staff/volunteers have a duty to highlight matters of concern or suspicion regarding the behaviour of others to their managers (unless it is the behaviour of the manager that is concerning, in which case, contact a more senior manager). This may result in other agencies being contacted, if the concerns involve them. It is acknowledged that taking such action against any professional is very difficult, especially if there is a concern about harassment or victimisation should such allegations be made. But the safety of children is paramount and everyone has a statutory duty to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of Children. However concerned an individual member of staff/volunteer may be, this must never result in a child being unnecessarily put at risk. It is important to remember it is often the most vulnerable children who are targeted. They need vigilant staff/volunteers to act on their behalf. See also Allegations against Persons who work with Children (including Staff, Carers and Volunteers) Procedure.
DON'T THINK WHAT IF I'M WRONG: THINK WHAT IF I'M RIGHT
This guidance is for staff and volunteers working with children in any setting, but it should also be read in conjunction with individual SCSP partner agencies procedures on whistleblowing.
Grounds for whistleblowing action
All staff/volunteers have a responsibility to highlight concerns about behaviour or practice of others that they do not think is acceptable. This should help to ensure:
- That the situation is prevented from getting worse, or widening out;
- That other children and staff/volunteers are protected, or the risks to them are reduced;
- That oneself is not implicated.
Reasons that may stop staff/volunteers from whistleblowing
There are a number of reasons why staff/volunteers may not want to contact managers about concerns they have. These include:
- Concern that they will not be believed;
- Concern that they have got it wrong;
- Concern of any repercussions or that they will damage their own career;
- Concern about starting a chain of events which spirals out of their control;
- Concern about damaging relationships with colleagues;
- Concern about disrupting the work or project they and others are involved in.
However, it is vital that any member of staff or volunteer discusses the situation with their line manager. Children should never be put at risk as a result of a failure to raise concerns about the behaviour of others.
Once an allegation or suspicion has been raised
When a member of staff/volunteer has raised issues of concern with their manager or other appropriate person in the organisation, the following should occur:
- They should be kept informed of the nature and progression of any enquiries that are subsequently conducted;
- The line or senior management has a duty to protect them from victimisation or harassment;
- No action will be taken against the member of staff/volunteer who raised the concerns if they are proven to be unfounded but were raised in good faith.
However, malicious allegations may be considered a disciplinary offence.
If a member of staff/volunteer has developed physical or psychological problems that they feel are having an effect on their professional competence, they have a duty to report this to their line manager. Personal and professional support should then be offered. However, confidentiality cannot be guaranteed if such difficulties raise concerns about the safety of children.
Further advice and support
It is recognised the difficulties that whistleblowing can potentially bring. However, there are a number of different areas where support is available. These include line or senior management, human resources department or management committee, a relevant professional body, trade union. Advice can also be sought from a designated child protection officer in an SCSP partner agency.
Monitoring results for both the recruitment process and induction periods should inform practice in both areas, if feedback suggests elements of change would be beneficial. The attendance of new staff and volunteers at child protection training should also be monitored.
As well as recruitment and induction monitoring, the rate and reasons why staff leave should also be scrutinised. This can be done by exit interview or questionnaires. Any safeguarding issues identified through such research should be investigated further.