Safe Recruitment Process

This information is designed to help your organisation develop the best practice for recruiting and vetting individuals working and volunteering with adults at risk.

Your organisation is only as good as the people who work and volunteer with you. They should be committed to creating a setting in which everyone feels welcome and safe. Respect for equality and diversity should be embedded within your organisation’s culture, and it should be promoted and underpinned in your codes of conduct, policies, and procedures.

You have a moral and social obligation to demonstrate best practice when it comes to working with adults at risk. Your staff and volunteers have a responsibility to treat one another with dignity, respect, sensitivity, and fairness. Any discriminatory, offensive, and violent behaviour is unacceptable, and you must work together to ensure that any complaint or concern will be acted upon.

All of this is only possible when people are recruited as safely as possible. It is therefore essential that your organisation has an effective recruitment and selection procedure for both paid staff and volunteers.

Legally, anyone undertaking a role that involves contact with, or responsibility for, children or other vulnerable adults should be taken through a safer recruitment process. Some individuals may not be suitable to work with adults at risk due to gaps in their understanding, skills, or knowledge. There may also be some concerns about their previous conduct.

Good Recruitment Practice

If appropriate for the role, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) can disclose and check against their barred list. But this is only one part of a safe recruitment process. In all cases regarding the vetting of paid and voluntary staff, best practice dictates a thorough checking of a candidate’s training and qualifications.

All of the following should form the basis of safe recruitment and best practice when recruiting individuals to work with adults at risk:

  • Detailed application forms
  • Self-disclosure
  • Robust interviews that cover safeguarding, equality, and diversity knowledge and skills
  • Reference checks
  • A thorough induction process
  • Verification of qualifications and experience
  • Risk assessments

Once the person is in the role, there should be a probationary period and review, as well as regular safeguarding training that includes safeguarding adults at risk.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

The DBS was created in 2012 when the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) merged. A DBS check was formally known as a CRB check. It is a means of supplying your organisation with the information you need to help you make correct recruitment and placement decisions. This is particularly vital when it comes to positions involving children and adults at risk.

DBS checks are only one part of the recruitment process, and the eligibility for undertaking them primarily relates to social and health care activity. If your organisation does not operate in these areas, you should first and foremost follow the good practice guidelines detailed above.

A key point to remember is that, although an individual may have an opportunity to come into contact with children or adults with care and support needs, this in itself does not make them eligible for a DBS check. Their eligibility to apply for a check depends on the specific role they will perform while conducting their duties within your organisation.

All specific enquiries regarding DBS checks of staff and volunteers in your organisation should be directed through to the Disclosure and Barring Service. The following information is given as a basic guide for your organisation.

Types of DBS Checks

There are three types of DBS checks:

  • Basic – Contains details of convictions and conditional cautions considered to be unspent under the terms if the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
  • Standard – Shows filtered convictions, cautions, warnings, and reprimands that are held on the police national computer.
  • Enhanced – Shows everything that the standard check does, plus some additional discretional information.
  • Enhanced With Barred List Check – Shows everything that the Enhanced check does plus an additional check of the appropriate “barred list” for the work being done.

Your Organisation’s Legal Duties

  1. You must not knowingly allow a barred person to work in Regulated Activity (see below).
  2. You must inform the DBS if an individual is removed from Regulated Activity because they have harmed, or because they pose a risk of harm to vulnerable groups (including children).

Regulated Activity

Regulated Activity is a legal phrase used to describe specific circumstances where individuals are working or volunteering with children or adults who are at risk because of help or treatment they are receiving.

The definition of Regulated Activity is different for children and adults.

For adults, the type of activity that’s classed as Regulated Activity is clearly set out in government guidance. Unless individuals are undertaking these activities, your organisation should not request an enhanced DBS check.

The definition of Regulated Activity focuses on the type of activity and contact an individual may have with an adult at risk. Unlike the definition of Regulated Activity with children, the definition for adults does not stipulate a frequency requirement. For adults at risk, the activity alone means an individual is in Regulated Activity, and one instance is enough to qualify.

Types of Regulated Activity

Within the legal framework, an individual is defined as being in Regulated Activity with adults at risk if any one of the following six conditions is met:

  1. The individual is in contact with the person by providing healthcare. This only includes first aid when it is provided on behalf of an organisation dedicated to providing first aid, such as St. John’s Ambulance Service.
  2. The individual is in contact with a person by providing personal care. This can include physical assistance with eating, drinking, going to the toilet, washing, bathing, dressing, oral care, or care of the skin, hair, or nails because of the adult’s age, illness, or disability.
  3. The individual is in contact with the person in providing social work.
  4. The individual is in contact with the person in assisting with general household matters. Examples including managing the person’s cash, paying the person’s bills, or shopping on their behalf.
  5. The individual is in contact with the person in assisting in the conduct of their affairs. This can be as a result of:
    a)Lasting power of attorney under the Mental Capacity Act 2005
    b)Enduring power of attorney within the meaning of the Mental Capacity Act 2005
    c)Being appointed as the adult’s deputy under the Mental Capacity Act 2005
    d)Being an Independent Mental Health Advocate
    e)Being an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate
  6. The individual is in contact with the person in conveying. Any drivers and any assistants are in Regulated Activity if they transport an adult because of their age, illness or disability to or from places where they have received, or will be receiving, health care, relevant personal care, or relevant social work. However, “conveying” does not include licensed taxi drivers or licensed private hire drivers, and it does not include trips taken for purposes other than to receive health care, personal care, or social work. Pleasure trips, for example, are excluded.

Vetting Individuals Who Are Not in Regulated Activity

If the individuals at your organisation are not in regulated activity, but you feel there’s an opportunity for them to build up a relationship of trust with an adult at risk, what can you do to vet them?

Working With Adults With Care and Support Needs

It may be that people who are not in regulated activity are ‘working with adults’ if they meet the requirements that are set out in the Police Act (Criminal Records) Regulations 2002, as amended. Organisations should look into this if the majority of people are receiving a health care or social care are receiving a service. If the role satisfies the criteria then people will be eligible for an enhanced check with no check against the barred list.

Basic Checks

Basic checks are not dependent on roles and would show details of any unspent convictions.

Consider, On An Individual Basis, the Need to Conduct a DBS Disclosure.

This can only be used where there is eligibility to request it, and this is dependent on the role the individual holds.

You should first ensure that safe recruitment processes are in place.

Consider, on an individual basis, the need to conduct a DBS disclosure. This can only be used where there is eligibility to request it, and this is dependent on the role the individual holds.

The DBS states that organisations have the responsibility to assess whether a DBS certificate at either Standard or Enhanced level is necessary for a specific role in line with the relevant legislation, and also taking into account any sector-specific statutory guidance on the matter. However, job roles should be assessed individually to confirm whether they meet the eligibility criteria. You should not blanket-check all roles.

More Resources

Guidance for DBS Checks in Sport – Working with Adults (England and Wales). Find it here.

There is a good online tool for checking whether your organisation can check a person’s criminal record. Find it here.

The DBS also produces more specific guidance leaflets to sectors, including sport and activity and charities.

The eligibility guidance codes for DBS checks can be found on the DBS website.

Finally, you can contact the DBS customer service team with any queries at