This chapter provides information about the recruitment and employment processes which organisations should use to safeguard adults from abuse and neglect.


Disclosure and Barring

Person / People in Positions of Trust (PIPOT) – Multi-Agency Practice Guidance


1. Introduction

Safer recruitment, induction and supervision of staff are essential to the safeguarding of adults with care and support needs. All organisations should have generic recruitment policies and procedures in place. This chapter provides additional, specific guidance in relation to safer recruitment practices at each step of the generic recruitment process, which aims to prevent unsuitable persons from working with adults, either as a paid member of staff or volunteer whether they are permanent, temporary or agency staff or recruited from abroad. In addition, it applies to staff / volunteers who are seen by adults with care and support needs as trustworthy and / or have access to confidential information. This may include administrative staff, caretakers, and maintenance workers for example.

Commissioners should ensure the principles of safer recruitment and employment are included in service level agreements or contracts drawn up between them and service providers. A service level agreement or contract should also contain the service’s safeguarding statement (see Section 2.1 Commitment to safeguarding).

2. Safer Recruitment Practices

2.1 Commitment to safeguarding

All organisations should have a statement about their commitment to the prevention of abuse and neglect and promoting the wellbeing of adults with care and support needs, to which it is expected all staff and volunteers will abide and embed in their daily practice. This should include that robust recruitment and selection procedures are in place to identify and deter people who might abuse or neglect adults with care and support needs or who are otherwise unsuitable for employment / volunteering. The statement should be included in recruitment material such as job adverts, candidate information packs and person specifications.

2.2 Safeguarding policies

Organisations should publish a safeguarding policy for staff which clearly relates to these Safeguarding Adults Procedures, and sets out the responsibilities of all staff. It should include information on:

  • identifying adults who are particularly at risk;
  • recognising risk from different sources and in different situations and recognising abusive or neglectful behaviour from other service users, colleagues, and family members;
  • routes for making a referral and channels of communication within and beyond the agency;
  • organisational and individual responsibilities for whistleblowing (see Whistleblowing chapter);
  • assurances of protection for whistleblowers;
  • working within best practice as specified in contracts;
  • working within and co-operating with regulatory mechanisms;
  • working within agreed operational guidelines to maintain best practice in relation to:
    • challenging or distressing behaviour;
    • personal and intimate care;
    • control and restraint;
    • gender identity and sexual orientation;
    • medication;
    • handling of people’s money;
    • risk assessment and management (read risk guidance for people living with dementia).

Organisations should also produce guidance outlining the rights of staff and how employers will respond where abuse is alleged against them within either a criminal or disciplinary context (see Person / People in Positions of Trust (PIPOT) – Multi-Agency Practice Guidance)

2.3 Job adverts

The advertisement should include the organisation’s policy statement (see Section 2.1, Commitment to safeguarding). It should also include reference to the requirement for the successful applicant to undertake a Disclosure and Barring Service check, as appropriate.

2.4 Job description

The job description (JD) should be specific about extent of contact and levels of responsibility the post holder will have for adults with care and support needs, including prevention of abuse or neglect at operational and / or strategic levels.

2.5 Person specification

The person specification (PS) should include any other requirements the post holder will need in order to perform the role in relation to working with adults with care and support needs, including experience specific to the post, for example working with adults with learning disabilities or dementia. The successful candidate should be able to demonstrate such required competencies and qualities.

2.6 Candidate information pack

The information pack should also highlight that a robust selection process is in place, and include reference to the organisation’s safeguarding adults’ policy. It should state proof of identity will be required, as well as a Disclosure and Barring Service check, as appropriate.

2.7 Application form

Employers should only use their own application forms for applicants. It is not good practice to accept curriculum vitae (CVs) instead of an application form as this may only contain information the person wants to present rather than all the information the organisation requires to enable shortlisting. The applicant form should again include reference to the organisation’s commitment to safeguarding adults with care and support needs.

2.8 Shortlisting

Application forms should be scrutinised for any unexplained gaps in employment history, or other potential concerns in relation to safeguarding adults. References should be sought on all candidates who are shortlisted for interview.

2.8.1 Requesting references

Where an applicant is not currently working with adults with care and support needs, but has done so previously, a reference should also be obtained from the last such employer, in addition to the current / most recent employer. This should include confirmation of the reason why the applicant left the post.

The referee should state:

  • whether they are satisfied the applicant has the ability and is suitable to undertake the job, and if not why;
  • whether they were the subject of any disciplinary sanctions or any allegations made against them, which relate to adults (including outcomes).

2.9 Interviews

The interview should assess the merits of the candidate against the JD and PS, and explore their suitability to work with adults with care and support needs.

The panel should state to each candidate there will be a requirement to complete an application for a Disclosure and Barring Service check, confirm their identity and receive satisfactory references.

One member of the panel should be trained in safer recruitment practice.

The panel should explore with the candidate:

  • their attitude towards adults with care and support needs, including any specific needs of adults of the service, including reasons why they want to work with such adults;
  • their ability and commitment to the organisation’s agenda for safeguarding and promoting wellbeing;
  • any gaps in their employment history;
  • discrepancies / concerns in relation to any information provided by either them or a referee;
  • if they wish to declare anything in relation to applying for a Disclosure and Barring Service check;
  • their understanding of appropriate relationships and personal boundaries;
  • emotional resilience in working with in challenging situations.

2.9.1 Participation of adults with care and support needs

Adults who use the service can make very valuable contributions as part of recruitment of new staff positions. Their participation should be built into the process at all levels, from administration posts to senior positions. Their roles should be clarified with the adults who participate, so they understand how their views will be considered and what weighting they will be given.

2.10 Conditional offer of appointment

Offers of appointment will be conditional on receipt of satisfactory checks and references.

In the following circumstances the applicant should be reported to the police:

  • they are found to be on a list concerning their suitability to work with adults / have been disqualified from working with adults by a Court;
  • they provided false information in relation to their application;
  • there are serious concerns about their suitability to work with adults.

2.10.1 Disclosure and Barring Service checks

See also Disclosure and Barring Service chapter.

The level of Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check requested – either Standard or Enhanced – should reflect the nature of the post and degree of contact with adults or with confidential information.

Types of DBS check are as follows:

  • Basic check: The basic check can be used for any position or purpose. A basic certificate will contain details of convictions and cautions from the Police National Computer (PNC) that are considered to be unspent under the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974.
  • Standard check: This allows employers to access the criminal record history of people working, or seeking to work, in certain positions, especially those that involve working with children or adults in specific situations. A standard check discloses details of an individual’s convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings recorded on police systems and includes both ‘spent’ and ‘unspent’ convictions;
  • Enhanced check: This discloses the same information provided on a Standard certificate, together with any local police information that the police believe is relevant and ought to be disclosed;
  • Enhanced with barred list check: This check includes the same level of disclosure as the enhanced check, plus a check of the appropriate barred lists. An individual may only be checked against the children’s and adults’ barred lists if their job falls within the definition of ‘regulated activity’ with children and/or adults;
  • • Adult First check: adult first is a service available to organisations who can request a check of the DBS adults’ barred list. Depending on the result, a person can be permitted to start work, under supervision, with vulnerable adults before a DBS certificate has been obtained.

For guidance on which type of DBS check is appropriate for the role being advertised, please see the DBS website. 

A record of the following should be kept; date the disclosure was obtained, by whom, level of disclosure and unique reference number.

In relation to adults with care and support needs, it should be noted that in ‘signing off’ or agreeing a personal budget or personal health budget a local authority may add conditions such as a DBS check as part of its risk assessment of safeguarding in specific cases. The local authority may also require personal budget holders using direct payments to tell them who they employ.

2.10.2 Checks on overseas staff

The same checks should be made on overseas staff as for all other staff, however the Disclosure and Barring Service. cannot access criminal records held overseas, so a DBS check may not provide a complete view of an applicant’s criminal record if they have lived outside the UK.

Where an applicant has worked or been resident overseas in the previous five years, the employer should obtain a check of the applicant’s criminal record from the relevant authority in that country as well as information about their conduct. It should be noted that not all overseas organisations / countries are able to provide such information. The application process for criminal records checks or ‘Certificates of Good Character’ for someone from overseas varies between different countries. For further information, see GOV.UK – Criminal records checks for overseas applicants.

2.10.3 Agency staff

Written confirmation should be provided by the agency that the necessary checks have been undertaken and are satisfactory.

2.11 Record Keeping

In relation to each candidate who is appointed, records should be made of:

  • any specific information raised with them (for example gaps in employment history) and their explanation and any corroborating information;
  • the outcome of their Disclosure and Barring Service check including unique reference number and date (please note – DBS information should, in general, only be retained for six months after the recruitment decision, then destroyed);
  • reasons for decision to appoint despite criminal convictions, including risk assessment undertaken.

3. Induction

On starting in a new post, the member of staff should be given written information in relation to:

4. Supervision and Staff Review and Development

Regular supervision sessions should take place as per the organisation’s policies and procedures, as should annual staff reviews. Both processes aide both the organisation and member of staff by ensuring:

  • staff are up to date with current practices in relation to their specific area of work and safeguarding adults in general (both local and national issues);
  • identify areas for development;
  • provide opportunities to identify and address any concerns about behaviour and / or attitudes;
  • develop any required action plans and review arrangements.

5. Disclosure and Barring Service Rechecking

The DBS also provides an online Update Service, to which staff or volunteers can subscribe and renew annually for a small fee (free for volunteers). This helps them keep their DBS certificate up to date, so it can be taken with them from one job to another, as long as they remain within the same workforce (adults, for example). See Disclosure and Barring Service chapter, Update Service.

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