England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales each have specific legislation and guidance relating to safer recruitment.
Safer recruitment procedures
Across the UK, statutory guidance highlights the responsibility of those in the education, community and care sectors to have policies and procedures in place that ensure they only employ suitable people to work or volunteer with children.
In England, the statutory guidance is Working together to safeguard children (Department for Education, 2018c). This highlights the responsibility of all organisations working with children to have safe recruitment practices in place.
English schools and colleges must follow Keeping children safe in education:
Statutory guidance for schools and colleges (Department for Education, 2018b).
- This gives school governing bodies the responsibility to ensure safer recruitment practices are put into place.
- Part 3 gives guidance on safer recruitment.
- Part 4 covers managing allegations against teachers and other staff.
The Department for Education (DfE) has provided draft statutory guidance about disqualification under the Childcare Act 2006 for local authorities, maintained schools, academies and free schools (DfE, 2018a).
In Northern Ireland, the key guidance is Co-operating to safeguard children and young people in Northern Ireland (Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, 2017). This states that:
- organisations providing services specifically to children and young people must have robust recruitment, selection and training procedures for staff and volunteers
- this includes making sure staff and volunteers have an early induction in safeguarding training before they have contact with children.
Schools in Northern Ireland must follow Safeguarding and child protection in schools: a guide for schools (Department for Education, 2017). This states that the designated governor for child protection is responsible for the recruitment, selection, vetting and induction of staff. It gives guidance on recruiting and vetting staff and volunteers, as well as dealing with allegations of abuse made against a member of staff.
In Scotland the Care Inspectorate has published guidance on safer recruitment to help employers meet safer recruitment requirements (Care Inspectorate, 2016). The guidance is aimed at those in:
- social care
- early education and childcare
- social work.
The principles will be helpful to any employer who needs to make sure they are recruiting the right people to work with children.
In Wales, the All Wales child protection procedures highlights the responsibility of all agencies working with children to have robust recruitment and selection procedures that create a high threshold of entry to deter abusers from seeking employment or voluntary work with children and families (All Wales Child Protection Procedures Review Group, 2008).
Welsh schools must follow Keeping learners safe:
the role of local authorities, governing bodies and proprietors of independent schools under the Education Act 2002 (Welsh Government, 2015). It states that is the role of school governing bodies to ensure safer recruitment practices are put into place.
In England and Wales, Section 5 of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 sets out what is “regulated activity”.
In addition, Section 64 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 restricts the scope of certain activities, so that activities which are supervised by another person who has undergone all the relevant disclosure and barring checks do not count as “regulated”.
In Northern Ireland, “regulated activity” is defined in Article 9 of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (NI) Order 2007.
The Department of Education Northern Ireland (DENI) published a circular in 2012 which states that volunteers working in schools are not working in “regulated activity” as long as a school can ensure they are being reasonably supervised on a regular basis (DENI, 2012).
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Department for Education has provided statutory guidance for schools, childcare establishments, colleges, youth groups, sports clubs and other organisations working with children and young people about how to supervise activities which would be classed as ‘regulated activity’ if they were unsupervised (Department for Education, 2013).
In Scotland “regulated activity” is defined in Schedule 2 of the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007.
Vetting and barring checks
The Disclosure and Barring Service provides detailed guidance for employers in England and Wales on the process of applying for DBS checks.
nidirect (2018b) provides guidance, forms and templates for AccessNI employers carrying out checks in Northern Ireland .
Guidance on using the Protecting vulnerable groups (PVG) scheme in Scotland is available from Disclosure Scotland (2010).
Information about how to apply to foreign countries for criminal records checks is available from the Home Office (2017).
Across the UK, it is an offence for an individual who has been barred to apply for a regulated position. It is also an offence for an employer to knowingly employ someone in a regulated position if they are barred from doing so. Employers must refer any information about employees or volunteers who (may) have harmed children while working for them to the relevant barring service for their nation.
In England and Wales, the legislation for this is the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006.
The Department for Education (DfE) has provided statutory guidance about disqualification under the Childcare Act 2006 for schools and local authorities(Department for Education, 2018a).
In Northern Ireland, the legislation for this is the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (NI) Order 2007.
In Scotland, the legislation for this is the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007.
Disqualification by association
In England, Regulation 9 of the Childcare (Disqualification) and Childcare (Early Years Provision Free of Charge) (Extended Entitlement) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 states that if somebody lives in the same household as another person who has been disqualified from working with children, they can be disqualified from working with children in domestic premises. The Department for Education’s statutory guidance for schools and local authorities on disqualification under the Childcare Act 2006 covers disqualification by association (Department for Education, 2018a).
In Wales, if somebody lives in the same household as another person who has been disqualified from working with children, they can be disqualified from working with children regardless of the setting under Regulation 8 of The Child Minding and Day Care (Disqualification) (Wales) Regulations 2010.
There are some differences in the way allegations should be handled in each nation of the UK.
In England, the national guidance is Working together to safeguard children: a guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. (Department for Education, 2018c).
Local safeguarding partners will also have child protection procedures.
There is separate statutory guidance for schools in England: Keeping children safe in education: statutory guidance for schools and colleges (Department for Education, 2018b)
In Northern Ireland, the national guidance is Co-operating to safeguard children and young people in Northern Ireland (Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, 2017). Section 7.2.10 covers allegations of abuse by a person in a position of trust.
DENI has also published a circular advising school principals and governors on how to manage an allegation of abuse against members of staff (DENI, 2015)
In Scotland, Safer recruitment through better recruitment (Care Inspectorate, 2016) includes guidance on dealing with concerns or allegations about a worker’s fitness to practise or harm to a user of a service.
In Wales, volume 5 of Working together to safeguard people deals with handling individual cases to protect children at risk, including managing allegations of abuse.
Keep up to date with new legislation and guidance by signing up to CASPAR, our current awareness service for policy, practice and research