7.8 Guide to Safe Recruitment of Staff and Volunteers

All organisations that employ staff or volunteers to work with children must adopt safe recruitment practices. Safe recruitment makes sure staff and volunteers are suitable to work with children and young people, and helps protect them from harm.


Regulated activity in relation to children

Regulated activity is work that a barred person must not do. It is defined in the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (SVG) Act 2006 and the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (Northern Ireland) Order 2007, both as amended (in particular by, respectively, section 64 and Schedule 7, Protection of Freedoms Act 2012).

Work that a barred person must not do in relation to children comprises

  • unsupervised activities: teach, train, instruct, care for or supervise children, or provide advice/ guidance on well-being, or drive a vehicle only for children;
  • work for a limited range of establishments (‘specified places’), with opportunity for contact: e.g. schools, children’s homes, childcare premises. Not work by supervised volunteers.

Find out more in Regulated activity in relation to children: scope.

Safer recruitment policy

A safe recruitment policy sets out an organisations commitment to recruiting staff and volunteers who are suitable to work with children. It should set out the organisation's commitment to:

  • safeguarding and protecting all children and young people by implementing robust safer recruitment practices
  • identifying and rejecting applicants who are unsuitable to work with children and young people
  • responding to concerns about the suitability of applicants during the recruitment process
  • responding to concerns about the suitability of employees and volunteers once they have begun their role
  • ensuring all new staff and volunteers participate in an induction which includes child protection
  • a list of the supporting procedures that accompany the policy
  • the date the policy comes into force and when you will review it.

More information on writiing safeguarding policies is available from the NSPCC.

Safer recruitment procedures

For any role working with children and young people, both the job description and the person specification should highlight the importance of understanding safeguarding issues.

When advertising a role, include a statement about the organisation's commitment to keeping children safe. If criminal record checks are required, state this in the advert.

Applicants should be asked to provide at least two referees and references should be checked as part of the checks on an applicant before offering them a job. 

Shortlisting should be carried out by at least two people, and at least two people should be on the interview panel. Involving children and your people in the recruitment process can be an option. Ask the candidates the same set of questions, which should be planned in advance. 

During the interview candidates should show that they are able to:

  • establish and maintain professional boundaries and professional integrity
  • establish and maintain relationships with children
  • take action to protect a child.

Vetting candidates and DBS checks

Referees should be asked abou the candidate's suitability and ability to work with children, and their knowledge and experience of child protection and safeguarding.

Follow up on any discrepancies or concerns.

Discloure and Barring Service (DBS)

If you are employing or assessing someone to do work that is regulated activity with children you can request an Enhanced DBS check with a children’s barred list check.

Referrals can be made online or by post. Call the DBS on 03000 200 190 or see the referral flow chart at www.gov.uk/government/publications/dbs-referralsreferral-chart

Anyone who is barred from work with children is committing an offence if they apply for, offer to do, accept or do any work which constitutes Regulated Activity. It is also an offence for an employer knowingly to offer work in a regulated position, or to procure work in a regulated position for an individual who is disqualified from working with children, or fail to remove such an individual from such work.

Disclosure and Barring Service Update Service

The DBS Update Service is an online subscription that lets employers carry out a free, instant online check to view the status of an existing standard or enhanced DBS certificate.

This can only be done if:

  • the employer has the individual’s consent
  • the employer could legally request a new DBS check for the role that the individual is applying for
  • it is for the same workforce, where the same type and level of criminal record check is required

This is because the employer is initially responsible for understanding and applying the relevant legislation to each role that they are recruiting for.

An individual can show their certificate to anyone because it contains their information, and they can give consent to an employer to view their status on the Update Service, as mentioned above.

Find out more.

Criminal record

If an applicant has a criminal record, employers must make a judgement about their suitability, taking into account only those offences which may be relevant to the post in question. In deciding the relevance, they should consider, the nature of the appointment and the nature of the offence; the age that they were when the offence took place; and the frequency of offences.

Overseas checks

If a candidate has been resident overseas for three months or more over the past five years, you should check the candidate’s criminal record in that country. The Home Office provides guidance on applying for criminal records checks for overseas applicants (Home Office, 2017).


Organisations are responsible for making sure the people they employ as staff and volunteers have not been disqualified from working with children. The Department for Education has statutory guidance to help organisations comply with their responsibilities.


If the vetting/DBS process reveals concerns about a person’s history, the organisation must assess whether or not they are suitable to work with children and young people. If necessary, information should be passed on to the relevant authorities.

Further information

Local information

LADO Case Responsibility Protocol for Use with Other LADO Authorities

This page is correct as printed on Sunday 14th of April 2024 05:09:19 AM please refer back to this website (http://hipsprocedures.org.uk) for updates.