Last updated: 08.03.23

What is Safer Recruitment?

Safeguarding during recruitment is key to protecting the welfare of vulnerable individuals further down the line. Plenty of cases of abuse or mistreatment in institutions could have been prevented if the perpetrators had not been allowed to work or interact with the vulnerable people in the first place, so safer recruitment helps to stop this abuse from occurring by keeping dangerous and predatory individuals away from potential victims.

Education providers, social work teams and any other employers that hire people to work with children and young people need to have an understanding of the Safer Recruitment policy, as these are the main areas where this practice and its relevant legislation apply. In this article, we explain what safer recruitment involves, how to establish a safer recruitment policy and the applications of this in education. 

What is Safer Recruitment?

Safer Recruitment is designed to protect children's welfare at every point where they come into contact with professionals in a safeguarding role. It enforces pre-employment checks for all prospective staff to identify and deter or reject individuals from jobs or opportunities if they are deemed to not be suitable to work with children and vulnerable young people.

Every employer should already have a recruitment policy in place to ensure job applicants are considered equally and fairly, and are not discriminated against based on their race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, marital or civil partner status, disability or age. Safer Recruitment takes this further.

Safer Recruitment pre-employment checks make sure that applicants' references have been cross-checked and that they have proof of identity. It also ensures that criminal convictions have been declared and that candidates have an up-to-date DBS certificate that they can provide evidence of at the interview stage.

Why is Safer Recruitment Important?

Safer recruitment practices are a key part of creating safe environments for children, young people and vulnerable adults. By ensuring the safety of the staff and volunteers that work in places like schools, the people that need to be safeguarded have access to places where they can feel confident that they will be safe from harm.

It’s also important to establish safer recruitment standards and procedures because it is one of the most effective ways of preventing abuse or mistreatment in a variety of institutions. If individuals that are predatory or dangerous cannot get access to children and vulnerable adults, they cannot do them any harm.

Establishing a safer recruitment process also demonstrates that you are committed to keeping the people in your institution safe, which sets a high standard for others and helps to eradicate damaging behaviour and unsafe practices in these kinds of places.

The Safer Recruitment Process

In contrast with a typical hiring process, safer recruiting requires a variety of additional steps and amendments to usual practices.

These will be detailed fully during any safer recruitment training that you attend, but the primary steps in the process that you should be aware of include the following:

  • The job description created when the position is opened must always make specific reference to the fact that it involves working with children and young people in an educational setting and the responsibilities to safeguarding that this involves.
  • When writing the person specification, you must include the fact that there must be a suitability to work with children and young people as part of it.
  • Comprehensive information about the candidate’s identity and general details must be sought throughout the process.
  • References sought from previous employers, or character references, must include specific questions about the candidate’s suitability to work with children and young people.
  • The interview should similarly contain specific questions about the candidate’s suitability to work with children and young people.
  • You must ensure that the candidate goes through the relevant DBS check, and potentially further safer recruitment checks if, for example, they are a foreign national.

Complying with Safer Recruitment Legislation

The Safer Recruitment legislation states that the recruitment and selection of staff should be conducted in a professional, timely and responsive manner, and in compliance with current employment legislation, as well as relevant safeguarding legislation and statutory guidance (including KCSIE 2022 and Prevent Duty Guidance).

Education providers must also ensure compliance with all relevant legislation, recommendations and guidance including the statutory guidance published by the Department for Education (DfE), Keeping Children Safe in Education - September 2022 (KCSIE), the Prevent Duty Guidance for England and Wales 2016 (the Prevent Duty Guidance), and any guidance or code of practice published by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

They are also legally required to meet their commitment to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people by carrying out all necessary pre-employment checks. Hirers have a responsibility to measure each candidate's experience and merit against the job description and person specification, but also to collate and analyse information from and about them, such as their DBS certificate.

What is a DBS Application?

A DBS application is designed to check a candidate’s criminal record. It can be used for a variety of purposes, but is generally used when checking a candidate’s suitability to work with children.

A DBS check used to be known as a CRB check or CRB application, until the Disclosure and Barring Service was established. As an employer, you can request an application, have the candidate complete it, and then the DBS will return their certificate to the candidate. You must request to see their DBS certificate to ensure that they have been approved by the service and are safe to work with children or vulnerable adults.

What to Include in a Safer Recruitment Policy

In this section, we will look at what should be included in your Safer Recruitment policy. You should do this by looking at your other corporate policies and statements, including current recruitment policies and fair practices, to ensure that any new policy will work alongside and are aligned with any existing policies.

1. Purpose of Policy

Highlight your organisation's function and purpose and how this relates to its commitment to ensuring only suitable applicants are hired to work with children and young people.

2. Compliance with Legislation

Highlight the relevant legislation and regulations which impact your organisation. Underline your commitment to comply with these regulations and any actions which you take. You can also link to other statements and policies which your organisation holds.

3. Scope of Policy

Your safer recruitment policy should be clear about who this policy applies to, who monitors these safer recruitment procedures and the date this policy came into force. The policy should also explain how staff will be checked to ensure they are complying with the safer recruitment regulations.

Do I Need a Safer Recruitment Policy?

Safer Recruitment policies help to ensure that only suitable applicants are permitted to work with children and young people. This message will tell staff, applicants and the public that your organisation is very invested in the safety and protection of children.

Any organisation that works with children and young people in any capacity should have a well-defined Safer Recruitment policy. This policy should be tailored to your organisation and should have input from all areas of the organisation.

Safer Recruitment in Education

Normal recruitment processes are designed to test a candidate's ability to perform a job, which includes their previous experience, their skills, and their ability to fit within the team. For many job openings, this is entirely sufficient, but when it comes to working with vulnerable people, of which children and young people are one of the designated groups, these processes don’t do enough to ensure that the candidate is suitable.

All employers and employees working in an education setting with children and young people have a responsibility to help keep these vulnerable groups of people safe. This means that education providers are responsible for considering children's welfare at every stage of the staff or volunteer selection process, and for making sure their current staff are following the Safer Recruitment guidelines.

The following download outlines the responsibilities of all local authorities, schools and Further Education (FE) colleges in England to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people. It includes safer recruitment best practices and includes how to deal with allegations of abuse against members of staff, for the school, local authority, and FE education sectors.

Chapter 3 focuses on safer recruitment and selection in educational settings. This includes guidance on best practices and other human resources procedures which, whilst helping in the recruitment of skilled candidates in the education services, will also help to discourage, rebuff or identify unsuitable candidates.

It outlines all the steps in the safer recruitment process stages and describes the recruitment and vetting checks needed.

Download Resource

Please note: This guidance does not cover the new vetting and barring scheme which was introduced under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006.

If you want more information on Safer Recruitment in Education, you can read our article on the topic here.


What does safer recruitment mean?

Safer recruitment means ensuring that the staff and volunteers who are hired to work with children, young people and vulnerable adults have been suitably checked to prevent any harm being done to the people in their care. It helps to safeguard children and vulnerable people by preventing dangerous or predatory individuals from interacting with them and ensuring that institutions like schools remain safe places.

What are the key safer recruitment principles?

The two main principles of safer recruitment are to take all steps necessary to prevent people who might harm children or vulnerable adults from taking up positions where they could do so, and to follow all of the latest guidelines and best practices to keep the recruitment process safe, fair and consistent. By following these principles, safeguarding and hiring professionals can create recruitment processes that make it incredibly difficult for unsuitable candidates to get jobs working with vulnerable people.

What is safer recruitment training?

Safer recruitment training introduces safeguarding or hiring professionals to the official safer recruitment process and why it is necessary. They will learn how to ensure that their own recruitment processes are safe and effectively vet candidates for their suitability, and also which external checks are necessary before offering a candidate a job where they work or interact with children and/or vulnerable adults.


Safer recruitment is an essential aspect of safeguarding, especially when it comes to institutions where children and vulnerable adults rely on staff or volunteers for meeting their needs and are often left alone together. By receiving safer recruitment training and ensuring that your recruitment process meets relevant standards, you can keep everyone safe and avoid the risk of harm.

Anyone who is involved in recruiting for roles involving working with children needs training on how to implement Safer Recruitment. Our online training ‘Safer Recruitment’ course provides more information about this important piece of legislation and covers everything you need to know about establishing a safe recruitment process.