Safer Recruitment – Supporting the Future of your Business


All organisations that work with or provide services for children and/or vulnerable people have a duty to safeguard and promote children and vulnerable adult welfare. Safer recruitment and selection procedures should be implemented effectively to identify and reject unsuitable applicants who pose a threat to their welfare.

To ensure current employees who are involved in the recruitment process can successfully assess a candidate’s ability, knowledge and experience, your organisation must offer them:

  • Safer recruitment and selection training
  • Supervised experience of recruitment
  • Periodic evaluation of recruitment performance
  • Refresher and update training

Recruitment and selection is a very intricate and lengthy process so here are some key points to consider when carrying out safer recruitment.

Selection and Recruitment

1. Job advertisements

Your safer recruitment policy should include a statement regarding your commitment to safeguarding and this should underpin your recruitment and selection procedures. This statement should be included and/or inform information in the following places:

  • Publicity materials
  • Recruitment
  • Websites/company recruitment page
  • Advertisements
  • Candidate information packs
  • Person specifications
  • Job descriptions
  • Competency frameworks
  • Induction training
  • Contract
  • Staff handbook
  • Policies and procedures  

The job advertisement should refer to successful candidates being subject to Enhanced Disclosure via DBS, and that the check is a condition of the appointment.

2. Job descriptions

Job descriptions must state the main duties and responsibilities of the post, including their responsibility to safeguard and promote child/vulnerable adult welfare, who they will have contact with and who they are responsible for.

3. Person specifications

Person specifications for safer recruitment need to cover the following areas:

  • Required qualifications and experience, and any other requirements necessary to work with children/vulnerable adults
  • Describe competencies and qualities a successful candidate can demonstrate
  • Relevant issue from references are discussed at interview, if short-listed
  • Assessment for motivation to work with children/vulnerable adults
  • Ability to develop professionally appropriate relationships and understand personal boundaries
  • Emotional resilience and attitude of authority and maintaining discipline

4. References

References should be used to support the appointment decision. Acquiring references pre-interview is essential and enables you to discuss any concerns during the interview. A reference request should include questions in the following areas:

  • Referees relationship with the candidate, length of time they have know them and in what capacity
  • Referees view regarding candidate’s suitability and ability to undertake the role
  • Referees view regarding candidate’s suitability to work with children, and if not, the reasons for this
  • Confirmation of details of candidates current post, salary and sickness record
  • Specific verifiable comments about the candidates performance history and conduct
  • Any disciplinary procedures and sanction enforced that are current or historical
  • Any disciplinary procedures and sanction enforced specifically around safeguarding issues, that are current or historical
  • Allegations or concerns discovered about the candidate in relation to safeguarding issues and behaviour towards children/vulnerable adults. Including how they were investigated, concluded and remedied

By Law, any reference provided must be accurate, should not contain material misstatements or omissions and must be relevant factual information.

5. Selection and interviews

The best practice approach to selection panels means panels should be made up of at least two individuals, as a minimum. Wherever possible, the panel should be balanced by gender and race. Furthermore, there must be one panel member who has safer recruitment and selection training, and one member who has experience with of working with children/vulnerable adults.

Scrutiny is essential to whittle out the weaker applications and also identify any potential concerns during the short-listing process. It is important to focus on the consistency of the information and pay due attention to any questionable patterns of employment or gaps in their history. All candidates should be assessed consistently and systematically against the criteria of the person specification to allow the panel members to cross reference and compare to agree a final short list of candidates for interview.

Pre-interview, candidates should be required to provide documentary evidence to identify who they are and any qualifications held.

The same questions should be used for each candidate and always be based on the agreed person specification for the post. However, ‘drill’ questions can be used to probe each candidate further, when more information is required. Questions should be agreed in advance and all questions must be considered with regards to avoiding potential discrimination. The following areas should be explored when interviewed through safe recruitment to assess the candidate’s attitude to working with children/vulnerable adults:

  • Their motivation and reasons for working with children
  • Their attitudes and behaviour about control and punishment
  • Their perceptions about the boundaries of acceptable behaviour towards children
  • Their ability to form and maintain professional relationships
  • Their personal belief systems including attitudes to, perception of and sensitivity to sexual images of children
  • Their understanding of safeguarding children

An excellent approach to interview questions is to ask ‘open’ questions. So questions posed which require more than a ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘limited’ response. A good example of this is ‘can you give me an example of....’ or ‘how did you manage this situation, and what were the outcomes?’. This often requires the candidate to give a background to the situation, examples of how they dealt with things and the outcomes, allowing you avenues for further discussion to really begin to understand the candidate’s attitude, approach and experience. You must avoid leading the interview by providing the candidate with the answers through your questions.

6. Appointing the successful candidate

  • Offers of employment must be conditional upon pre-employment checks being satisfactory. These checks should include the following:
  • Two satisfactory references (if references have not been obtained before the interview, it is vital that they are obtained and scrutinised before a person's appointment is confirmed
  • Verification of the candidate's identity
  • Disclosure and Barring Service
  • Verification of the candidate's medical fitness
  • Verification of any relevant qualifications and professional status
  • Evidence of right to work in the UK for those who are not nationals of a European Economic Area country

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Checks

The DBS provides two levels of disclosures, a standard disclosure and an enhanced disclosure. One or the other must be sought for candidates who seek to work with children/vulnerable adults. The standard check indicates if there is nothing on their record and indicates if any of the following details are on the police national system:

  • Spent and unspent convictions
  • Cautions
  • Formal reprimands
  • Final warnings 

Enhanced disclosures may contain non conviction information that a chief of police may deem important, regarding the position sought. This information is in addition to the information given by the standard DBS check.


All documentation relating to candidates must be retained on file, including notes of candidate’s responses at interview. DBS regulations require DBS disclosures to be destroyed when no longer needed, usually after six months, but a record must be kept of the date the disclosure was obtained and who by, the level of disclosure and its unique reference number.

Any concerns regarding a candidate’s suitability to work with children or vulnerable adults must be reported to LADO, in the first instance.

Inductions and Review

It is essential to cover Safeguarding and promotion of children/vulnerable adult’s welfare for all new employees via their inductions. Due attention should be given to the organisation’s protection policies and procedures.

Their role and responsibilities must be fully explained, in line with safe practice, including the professional standard of conduct and behaviour expected. Furthermore, it’s paramount that the Whistle Blowing policy is explained and the importance of this process in mind of safeguarding obligations.

If any specific support, training or guidance has been identified as necessary during interview, this should be considered when tailoring the induction for that particular individual. 

Training, Supervision and Support

Regular supervision and review meetings between the appointee and their manager should occur during the probation period to communicate and address areas that require further support, guidance and training.

Your organisation has a duty to ensure the provision of:

  • Adequate training for employees working with and/or likely to come into contact with children/adults and families;
  • Clear and up to date procedures to follow in relation to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, including information sharing and what to do if they have concerns that a child has suffered or is at risk of suffering Significant Harm;
  • Ready access to advice, expertise and management support in all matters related to safeguarding children and child protection (including recognition of the need for additional support in particular cases or circumstances);
  • Systems to protect staff from violence, bullying and harassment including racial harassment and homophobia;
  • Systems to monitor that staff comply with expected behaviour and good practice through performance management and professional development arrangements;
  • Systems to recognise and respond to poor practice e.g. regular audits of cases which involve children/vulnerable adults;
  • Complaints and Whistle Blowing Procedure to allow service users and staff to highlight issues for consideration and resolution.

Reporting Unsuitable Staff

If any incidents or concerns arise from carrying out the safer selection and recruitment process, you should immediately contact your Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO), and inform them of your concerns.

Speak to us about reviewing and developing your procedures to ensure best practice is maintained and your organisation satisfies the requirements of employment law. If you have any questions or would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact Emplaw Solutions (insert link to contact page).

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