Screening volunteers and employees

Screening is used here to mean checking if someone has a criminal record. It is one way of reducing the risk of recruiting volunteers or staff who may be unsuitable to work with children or other vulnerable people.

All organisations can ask on their application forms if volunteers or staff have a criminal record. This is vital where volunteers will be working with vulnerable people and something to consider for volunteers going into people’s homes or with unsupervised access to money.

Ex-offenders normally have the right not to reveal spent (old) convictions. But where work involves contact with vulnerable people, organisations can require applicants to declare spent convictions too. Vulnerable people includes people under 18 or over 65, people with a mental or physical disability or chronic illness, alcohol or drug misuses.

The Disclosure and Barring Service (previously the Criminal Records Bureau) conducts what was previously called police checks and these are now DBS checks. There are:

  • Standard checks
  • Enhanced checks
  • Enhanced checks with children’s and/or adults barred list check

A DBS check may be needed for some voluntary work.

The Children Act

The Children Act 1989 in seeking to protect children, places certain responsibilities on childcare agencies. However the Home Office and Department of Health advise that these responsibilities do not extend to requiring that everyone in contact with children are screened. Those who have unsupervised contact or regular contact with children should be screened.

Most childcare providers caring for children under the age of eight must check to ensure whether they need to register with OFSTED.

Organisations working with any vulnerable people including children should ensure they have appropriate policies. Advice and information about this and other policies is available from One Community.

Useful contacts

DBS - tel: 0300 0200 190

One Community - tel: 023 8090 2400

OFSTED - tel: 0300 123 1231