Section 11: Safer Recruitment

Section 11: Safer Recruitment


All organisations, which employ staff or volunteers to work with children, should adopt a consistent and thorough process of safer recruitment in order to ensure that people who are unsuitable to work with children and young people are prevented from doing so.

The North Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Board will help and encourage partners to implement safer recruitment and selection practices by providing access to relevant government guidance, examples of good practice guidance, and model policies and procedures where needed.

Safer recruitment practice should include those persons who may not have direct contact with children, but because of their presence and familiarity in certain settings will still be seen as safe and trustworthy. The principles of safer recruitment should be included in the terms of any contract drawn up between the organisation and contractors or agencies that provide services for children and young people for whom the organisation is responsible. The organisation should monitor compliance with the contract, which should also include a requirement that the provider will not sub-contract to any personnel who have not been part of a safer recruitment process.


All organisations involved in the selection of adults to work with children should ensure that designated staff undertake appropriate safer recruitment training specific to their organisational needs.

The North Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Board will monitor the take up of any such training through the NYSCB Workforce Development Subgroup.

Safer Recruitment Practice

Safer recruitment practice should be applied at all stages of the recruitment process:

  • Advertising and information for applicants
  • References
  • Other checks before interview
  • Selection of candidates
  • Interviewing short-listed candidates
  • Offer of appointment to successful candidate
  • Induction and supervision of newly appointed staff

Induction and Supervision of Newly Appointed Staff

Advertisements and Information for Applicants

Organisations should demonstrate their commitment to safeguarding and protecting children by ensuring that all recruitment advertising material contains a policy statement to this effect. All information given to the interested applicant should highlight the importance placed by the organisation on rigorous selection processes.

The information should stress that the identity of the candidate, if successful, will need to be checked thoroughly, and that where a Disclosure and Barring Service check is appropriate the person will be required to complete an application for a DBS Disclosure to the appropriate level straight away.

The job description should clearly set out the extent of the relationship with, and the degree of responsibility for, children with whom the person will have contact.  The person specification should explain:

  • The qualifications and experience needed for the role.
  • The competencies and qualities that the applicant should be able to demonstrate.
  • How these will be tested and assessed during the selection process.

The application form should ask for:

  • Full personal information, including any former names by which the person has been known in the past
  • A full history of employment, both paid and voluntary, since leaving school, including any periods of further education or training. This should include:
    • Start and end dates,
    • Explanations for leaving, and
    • Reasons for any gaps in employment
  • Details of any relevant academic and/or vocational qualifications
  • A declaration that the person has no convictions, cautions, or bind-overs, including those regarded as spent. This should also include referral to or inclusion on the DBS Children’s or Adult’s Barred List or regulatory body restricting or preventing them from working with children or vulnerable adults.

Curriculum vitaes, drawn up by applicants in place of an application form are not acceptable because these will only contain the information the applicant wishes to present and may omit relevant details.


The application form should request both professional and character references, one of which should be from the applicant’s current or most recent employer. Additional references may be asked for where appropriate. For example, where the applicant is not currently working with children, but has done so in the past, a reference from that employer should be asked for in addition to that from the current or most recent employer if this is different.

References should be sent wherever possible to business addresses, not a home address.

Wherever possible references should be obtained prior to the interview so that any issues of concern raised by the reference can be explored further with the referee and taken up with the candidate during interview.

References should contain objective, verifiable information and in order to achieve this, a reference pro-forma with questions relating to the candidate’s suitability to work with children and young people should be provided.

References should include:

  • length of time the person has known the applicant and in what capacity;
  • post held with dates , salary and reasons for leaving;
  • ability and suitability to work with children and young people;
  • skills, strengths and weaknesses and how these have been demonstrated;
  • any current disciplinary investigation and/or sanction;
  • any  allegations and/or disciplinary investigations relating to the safety or welfare of children and young people and the outcome of these (including where  any sanction has expired);
  • details of any criminal convictions, cautions or bind-overs;
  • sickness record;
  • if the referee would re-employ the applicant and, if not details of why; and
  • verification of the identity of the referee.

The referee should be asked to confirm whether the applicant has been the subject of any disciplinary sanctions and whether the applicant has had any allegations made against him/her or concerns raised which relate to either the safety or welfare of children and young people or about the applicant’s behaviour towards children or young people. Details about the outcome of any concerns or allegations should be sought.

Open references or testimonials should not be accepted.

Other Checks before Interview

If the applicant claims to have specific qualifications or experience relevant to working with children and young people, which may not be verified by a reference, the facts should be verified by making contact with the relevant body or previous employer and any discrepancy explored during the interview.

Selection of Candidates

There are standard procedures for short listing to ensure that the best candidates are selected fairly. All applicants should be assessed equally against the criteria contained in the person specification without exception or variation.

Safer recruitment means that all applications should additionally be:

  • Checked to ensure that they are fully and properly completed. Incomplete applications should not be accepted and should be returned to the candidate for completion.
  • Scrutinised for any anomalies or discrepancies in the information provided.
  • Considered with regard to any history of gaps, or repeated changes in employment, or moves to supply work, without clear and verifiable reasons.

All candidates should be instructed to bring with them documentary evidence of their identity, either a full birth certificate, passport or photo card driving licence and additionally a document such as a utility bill or bank statement that verifies the candidate’s name and address. Where appropriate, change of name documentation must also be brought to the interview.

Candidates should also be asked to bring original or certified copies of documents confirming any necessary or relevant educational and professional qualifications. If the successful candidate cannot produce original documents or certified copies written confirmation of his/her relevant qualifications must be obtained from the awarding body.

Interviewing Short-listed Candidates

Questions should be set which test the candidate’s specific skills and abilities to carry out the job applied for.

The candidate’s attitude toward children and young people in general should be tested and also their commitment to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in particular. At least one member of the interview panel should be trained in how best this can be done.

Any gaps and changes in employment history should be fully explored during the interview, as should any discrepancies arising from information supplied by the candidate or by the referee.

All candidates should bring to interview documentary evidence as detailed in the Asylum and Immigration Act and in line with DBS requirements. Where relevant, change of name documentation must also be brought to the interview.

Offer of Appointment to Successful Candidate

Any offer of appointment should be conditional upon pre-employment checks being satisfactorily completed, including:

  • Where the role is considered to be working with children, either in regulated activity (see or in a supervised role, a DBS check appropriate to the role.
  • Verification of the candidate’s medical fitness.
  • Verification of any relevant professional status and whether any restrictions have been imposed by a regulatory body such as the Teaching Agency (TA) and the General Medical Council (GMC).

All checks should be confirmed in writing and retained on the candidate’s personnel file, together with photocopies of documents used to verify his/her identity and qualifications.

DBS Checks

There are three levels of DBS checks, Standard, Enhanced and Enhanced with barred list checks. DBS checks cannot be obtained by members of the public directly but are only available to organisations and only for those professions, offices, employments, work and occupations listed in the Exceptions Order (1975) to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 as amended by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.

Standard DBS Check

Standard certificates reveal details of any convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings the applicant has received.

Enhanced Disclosure

This includes the same as the standard check plus any additional information held by local police that’s reasonably considered relevant to the workforce being applied for (adult, child or ‘other’ workforce).  ‘Other’ workforce means those who don’t work with children or adults specifically, but potentially both, e.g. taxi drivers. In this case, the police will only release information that’s relevant to the post being applied for.

Enhanced Disclosure with Barred List Check

This includes all of the information normally included in an Enhanced Disclosure but also identifies whether the person is barred from working in regulated activity with the group they are applying to work for, for example, whether they are barred from working with children.

Under DBS regulations, DBS disclosures can usually only be kept for 6 months, but a record should be kept of the date the disclosure was obtained and who by, the level of the disclosure and the unique reference number.

DBS Update Service

The Disclosure and Barring Service Update Service is a subscription service that lets applicants keep their DBS certificates up to date online.  The service allows employers to check a certificate online without the need to make the applicant apply for another check.  In order to use the service you must:

  • be legally entitled to carry out a check
  • have the applicant’s permission

Record Keeping

A record should be kept of evidence to show that such checks have been carried out in respect of supply staff and volunteers whether recruited directly or through an agency.

Satisfactory references must be kept on the candidate’s personnel file or, in the case of supply staff or volunteers not recruited through an agency, on a central record within the organisation.

Where information gained by the employer from either references or other checks calls into question the candidate’s suitability to work with children, or where the candidate has provided false information in support of the application the facts should be reported to the Police and/or the DBS as appropriate.

Induction and Supervision of Staff & Volunteers

The induction of all newly appointed staff should include an introduction to the organisation’s child protection policies and procedures. This should include being made aware of the identity and specific responsibilities of those staff with designated safeguarding responsibilities.

New staff members should be provided with information about safe practice and given a full explanation of their role and responsibilities and the standard of conduct and behaviour expected.

They should also be made aware of the organisation’s personnel procedures relating to disciplinary issues and the relevant whistle blowing policy.

The programme of induction should also include child protection training at a level appropriate to the member of staff’s work with children. Senior managers should ensure that their staff and volunteers are adequately and appropriately supervised and that they have ready access to advice, expertise and management support in all matters relating to safeguarding and child protection.

The Department for Education has released guidance on supervised activities with children, this can be accessed from:

Appropriate safeguarding controls must be in place for all staff and should be reviewed on a regular basis.  Supervision of those undertaking supervised activities must take place “on a regular basis” and means that supervision must not, for example, be concentrated during the first few weeks of an activity and then tail off thereafter.

 Last updated 18/11/2013

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