The Principles of Safer Recruitment
If you employ staff or even volunteers to work with children, young people or vulnerable adults, you have a duty to ensure that you’re protecting your charges by adhering to safer recruitment practices. The exact nature of these practices is laid out in statutory guidance such as Keeping Children Safe in Education 2018 but in this article we’re going to go through the underlying principles - with a view to introducing some best practice advice, and helping you to start working on your own safer recruitment plan.
Vetting prospective employees
First and foremost is the importance of vetting potential employees to identify and guard against people who could pose a threat to the children or other vulnerable people in your care. This means verifying every prospective employee’s identity; asking for written details of their qualifications and obtaining a declaration that states the person has no convictions, cautions before you interview them.
It also means ordering the appropriate Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks. In some cases these will be standard checks, but often an enhanced disclosure is preferable and may be mandated by law. Particularly if the employee will spend a lot of time interacting with young children and/or taking sole charge of young people.
Proper verification processes should also include steps to obtain at least two written references before an offer of employment is offered, so as to minimise the risk that you’ll accidently employ someone who has been asked to leave a previous position due to misconduct, or is otherwise trying to fabricate their experience.
According to guidance published by the London Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB), it’s wise to pair these investigations with in-person vetting, usually in an interview setting that allows you to test the candidates attitude toward children and young people, as well as probing their approach to safeguarding.
Creating a safe environment
The work doesn't stop once you’ve finished recruiting. The government’s safer recruitment guidelines set out the importance of creating a completely safe and secure environment for the vulnerable people in your charge, in an ongoing fashion. This means taking steps to ensure that all employees have a clean record and are safe to work with children and other vulnerable groups, but it also means developing a rigorous framework of internal processes that allows you to measure and monitor new staff in the first days, weeks and months of their new role.
These monitoring procedures will allow you to analyse your new employee’s commitment to basic safeguarding principles, and allow you to determine whether they’re a good fit for the vulnerable young people or adults in your care. It’ll also ensure that any issues are flagged up immediately, and help you to provide a completely secure environment, that’s free of any negative behaviours. According to the NSPCC’s safer recruitment guidelines, a probation period of at least 3 months will allow you to properly support your new employee, and highlight your own expectations in terms of safeguarding behaviour.
Engaging staff in the safeguarding process
Staff involvement is a principle part of the safeguarding process. Staff are well placed to spot troubling behaviour and report suspicious activity. They’re also the people that those you care for are most likely to confide in, which makes them an important asset when it comes to creating a safe and healthy environment for vulnerable individuals. According to the NSPCC, it's always worth engaging with your staff, and explaining that you are trying to follow government guidelines on safer recruitment. They will be able to help you keep an eye out on new hires, and enable you to create the kind of environment that the government’s guidelines recommend.Proper training is always important when it comes to safeguarding, and is often deemed mandatory. If you’re responsible for employing people that work with children, young people or vulnerable adults, you may be interested in our course on safer recruitment. Click here to read about what the course involves and who it’s suitable for. Virtual College is proud to be a leading provider of training for this important issue.