We recently received an update from the Safer Recruitment Consortium (with whom FusionHR our sister company, are Accredited Safer Recruitment Trainers), relating to the collection of criminal information from candidates during a recruitment process. Incorrect advice has been circulated by an employment law firm who are stating that schools are no longer permitted to gather criminal information from candidates via a self-disclosure section of the application form or by means of a separate disclosure form. This advice is incorrect.

The Safer Recruitment Consortium has sought confirmation, from the DfE, that their current advice is correct; criminal self-disclosure is an important part of safer recruitment but must be approached with care. They have also been in communication with Unlock and NACRO to ensure that the consortium’s position balances the rights of individuals with criminal history to be treated fairly with our duty to ensure unsuitable people are not appointed to work with children.


  • Should not ask applicants to disclose criminal history in the body of the application form;
  • Should try to avoid having a “have you ever committed an offence” tick box on the application form;
  • May have a self-disclosure section on the application form which is removed before short-listers have access; or
  • May have a separate self-disclosure form which is submitted with the application but is not shared with short-listers (this may be what you already do with the Diversity Monitoring Form?); or
  • May send the Self-disclosure Form to shortlisted candidates with their invitation to interview, with a requirement that it is submitted prior to interview day; or
  • May only ask the successful candidate to self-disclose and then, if any relevant criminal history is disclosed, bring the candidate in for a second interview to discuss this;
  • Must not ask candidates to disclose all spent and unspent convictions – the law changed in 2013!
  • Must instead give candidates clear information regarding their right to withhold ‘protected’ or filtered offences, and that these will not be taken into consideration by recruiters;
  • Should avoid asking a general question in interviews (e.g. “Do you have any criminal history that you have not yet disclosed?”) unless the panel is very confident on the application of filtering and understand which offences they can and cannot discuss with the applicant;
  • Should ensure that all staff who handle self-disclosed information are aware of their responsibilities under the DBS code of practice and ROA 1974 to treat candidates fairly and to keep criminal information strictly confidential;
  • Should ensure that all involved in recruitment have a comprehensive understanding of the 2013 amendments to ROA 1974 which allowed for certain offences to be protected and not taken into account by employers.

Any relevant criminal information disclosed by candidates should be shared with the recruitment panel in advance of the interview (unless the process of self-disclosure after interview is adopted) to ensure that the candidate is asked about their criminal history and given an opportunity to explain context, etc. If the candidate is offered a post, the information shared on the self-disclosure and at interview should be compared with the information on the DBS certificate when this is received.

If you need help with Safer Recruitment, take a look at the training our sister company FusionHR run. Their next Safer Recruitment Accredited training session takes place on the 10 January 2019. For further information click on this link  or call 01924 827869.

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