The Importance of Background Checks in Recruitment

Published: 02nd February 2010
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Conducting a comprehensive pre-employment process is becoming increasingly important for most employers. Ensuring that potential employees have the qualifications that they claim, are medically fit for a role, have the right employment history and do not have a criminal record that would exclude them from working with vulnerable people are increasingly becoming standard employment conditions. In addition, background checks such as media searches, professional body memberships, credit checks and right to work verification are also used to ensure that potential employees are exactly who they say they are and are able to undertake the required work.

Of all background checks perhaps the most important is the CRB check. CRB checks are becoming increasingly popular as part of the recruitment process, and are essential for any function that involves working with children or vulnerable adults. A CRB check looks at any official records held by the authorities that might indicate whether an individual is suitable to work in a particular role.

Why do I need a CRB check?

The topic of personal security for people who need to entrust their safety to others, such as looking after children or working with disabled adults, is currently quite popular in the mainstream media. Criminal breaches of the trust that society places in people are usually met with a strong media response. A recent example would be the case of Vanessa George, a nursery worker who was convicted in December 2009 of several offences against children at the nursery where she was employed. Every major newspaper and television channel picked up on the story, with headlines running from the initial investigation in June through to the conviction in December. Ultimately, the nursery at which Vanessa George was employed was closed for some time.

In addition to the considerable physical or emotional damage done to the victims of any criminal acts, the cost to businesses and the local community can be far reaching. It is clear, therefore, that having a thorough knowledge of the background of all employees is of the utmost importance for any business owner.

What does a CRB check entail?

There are 3 levels of CRB check: basic, standard and enhanced.

The basic CRB check, also termed a Basic Disclosure, is an investigation into any criminal records held for an individual. The basic CRB check looks for unspent convictions under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. Although CRB checks are usually carried out for those working with children and vulnerable adults, employers in other sectors may also require a basic CRB check for prospective staff.

A standard CRB check (Standard Disclosure) goes a little deeper than a basic check. The standard CRB check is necessary for anyone working with children or vulnerable adults, and in addition to checking previous convictions, also looks at any recorded cautions, reprimands or warnings held by the Police. There may also be checks made against the Protection of Children List, the Protection of Vulnerable Adults List and any information held under Section 142 of the Education Act 2002.

The enhanced CRB check, Enhanced Disclosure, is the highest level of CRB check available. It contains all of the checks made in the Standard Disclosure, but also includes any relevant information held by local police forces.

Nate Wood writes for Capita RVS. For more information about CRB checks and employee vetting services, visit our website.

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