Safer Recruitment and Managing Staff
‘Regulated Activity’ is work which involves close and unsupervised contact with vulnerable groups including children. This is anyone who is teaching, training, instructing, coaching, supervising, or caring for children or young people. Workers in specified establishments are also considered as working in regulated activity, and these include (but are not limited to) schools, children’s homes, and nurseries.
For people applying for posts that only occasionally work in these places, like contractors or photographers, they would need to work in a regulated activity establishment more than three times in a 30-day period to be eligible for a DBS check.
All organisations hiring people to work in regulated activity must have robust and transparent recruitment procedures in place to ensure children, young people and vulnerable adults are safeguarded. Staff should also be familiar with the local Safeguarding Children Partnership policies and procedures.
Before recruiting staff (whether paid or unpaid), the following should be considered:
- The application process should include the organisations commitment to safeguarding in for example the Job Description and any other documentation
- Thorough checks should be made of an applicant’s identity, work history and references including any gaps in time;
- Proof of qualifications should be obtained
- Checks with the Disclosure and Barring Service should be undertaken
- A probationary period and supervision of the person should take place;
- References should be obtained and verified
This is not an exhaustive list but a framework for sound recruitment practice.
The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) helps employers to make safer recruitment decisions by preventing unsuitable people from working with vulnerable people, including children. The DBS provides a service that adopts the following functions:
- Checking – This part of the DBS allows employers to check and access the criminal record history of people working, or applying to work (whether paid or unpaid) n certain positions, especially those that involve working with children and vulnerable adults. The checks result in DBS certificates being issued, which the employer can ask to see. There are three levels of criminal record check: basic, standard, and enhanced, and all disclosures about potential employees for work with children and vulnerable persons must be at an enhanced level.
- Barring – This part of the DBS allows DBS caseworkers to make decisions about who should be placed in the child barred list and/or adults barred list and are then prevented by law from working with children or vulnerable groups. Employers can make a barring referral if they believe that an individual has caused harm or may cause harm to vulnerable groups, including children.
The DBS website provides a range of advice, guidance and relevant forms.
The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (SVGA) places a legal duty on regulated activity providers (employers, volunteer managers and personnel suppliers) to refer any person who has:
- Harmed or poses a risk of harm to a child or vulnerable adult;
- Satisfied the harm test; or
- Received a caution or conviction for a relevant offence.
The following groups have a power to make a referral to the DBS:
- Local authorities (safeguarding role);
- Education and library boards;
- Health and social care (HSC) trusts (NI);
- Keepers of registers e.g. General Medical Council, Nursing and Midwifery Council;
- Supervisory authorities e.g. Care Quality Commission, Ofsted.
Further information and guidance, including factsheets and instructions, can be found in the DBS guidance leaflets.
If the person to be referred to the DBS is a teacher in England, consideration should also be given to refer the case to the Teaching Agency. The Teaching Agency is an Executive Agency of the Department for Education, responsible for the regulation of teachers in respect of serious misconduct.
Find out more at the Teaching Agency’s website.
Every local authority has a statutory responsibility to have a Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) who is responsible for co-ordinating the response to allegations that a staff member who works with children may have caused or could cause them harm in the future. A ‘staff member’ is a person whose work brings them into contact with children in their setting. It, therefore, applies to all adults whether paid or working in a voluntary capacity (including supply/agency workers) on or off premises and sites.
The LADO works in Children’s Services and liaises with the Police, Social Care Teams, regulatory bodies such as Ofsted, and other organisations as needed and ensures a consistent, fair and thorough process for both child and adult.
The LADO will provide advice, guidance and help to determine whether a concern or allegation sits within the scope of safeguarding procedures. They have responsibility for ensuring the workforce is safe by managing allegations of abuse or misconduct of professionals working with children, offering advice and making referrals to the relevant bodies as appropriate. The LADO is responsible for raising awareness and understanding of safe working practices and safer recruitment, share learning based on experiences, to ensure that practice and services are constantly improved, help establish and aid an understanding of baselines from which we can measure the impact of services on children or young people. The LADO is also responsible for identifying gaps in service and service standards and reporting these to the Local Safeguarding Children Board.
The Pan-Sussex Child Protection & Safeguarding Procedures provides guidance to managing cases of allegations that might indicate that a person is unsuitable to continue to work with children in their present position, or in any capacity. The procedures should be used in respect of all cases in which it is alleged that an employee has:
- Behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or may have harmed a child,
- Possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child, or
- Behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates he or she would pose a risk of harm if they work regularly or closely with children, is unsuitable to work with children.
The procedures should be applied with common sense. It is imperative that everyone who deals with allegations of abuse maintains an open and inquiring mind, and that allegations are taken seriously. The rights of the child and member of staff must be considered, however, the child’s interests must be paramount as set out in the Children Act 2004.
All staff have a responsibility to report if they believe a member of staff is harming or using unacceptable behaviour towards a child. Information may come to light about behaviour outside of the workplace which could indicate a breach of acceptable professional conduct.
Following confirmation that there is some potential foundation, the employer should seek the advice of the LADO on the same day. The LADO will consider the information and whether it meets the criteria for consultation with the police and social care. In rare cases, allegations will be so serious as to require immediate intervention by children’s social work services and/or police. Others scenarios may seem much less serious and on the face of it will not warrant consideration of a police investigation or enquiries by children’s services. However it is important that they are examined objectively by someone independent of the employer concerned. Investigations must be dealt with quickly, fairly and impartially.
The employer must not commence an internal investigation before consulting with the LADO. It is the responsibility of the Police and the Children’s Services to investigate allegations of abuse involving children. Any such intervention at this stage could jeopardise a potential criminal investigation. The employer may make basic enquiries to determine whether there may be some potential foundation to the allegation. The enquiries should be minimal to establish the facts of the allegation, if these were not established or were unclear at the time of the concern being raised.
- Was the employee at work that day?
- Did the employee come into contact with the child?
- Have any other potential witnesses come forward?
The Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) is responsible for the oversight and management of allegations made against employees. Consequently they should be informed of all allegations that come to an employer’s attention.