'Safer recruitment' developed out of the Bichard Inquiry Report into the Soham tragedy in 2002, when two school girls were murdered by a school caretaker, Ian Huntley. At that time, many schools did not have established professional recruitment procedures and the vetting of applicants to determine their suitability to work with children was sporadic. Recommendations from Bichard resulted in the creation of a detailed and prescriptive regulatory framework for staff recruitment in schools, known as 'safer recruitment' with which schools must still comply.
In December 2017, the Charity Commission first published guidance called Safeguarding and protecting people for charities and trustees which requires trustees to take reasonable steps to protect from harm anyone who comes into contact with their charity. This includes a duty to make sure that the trustees, staff and volunteers they appoint are suitable and legally able to act in their positions. As a result, the concept of 'safer recruitment' has been extended to all charities.
A charity must therefore establish a reasonable and proportionate recruitment process which allows it to take objective 'safer recruitment' decisions.
What steps are reasonable will depend on a number of factors, including:
There are significant differences in expectations of charitable organisations, given the significant variation in their size, resources, objectives, beneficiaries and the sectors in which they operate. As a consequence, what is an appropriate recruitment process for one charity may not be for another, or the process for one role may be different for another. Each charity should therefore determine what is appropriate by reference to its own particular circumstances.
We have produced more guidance on approach and risk factors to take into account when considering recruitment within charitable organisations in a note which can be accessed free of charge - Safer recruitment for charitable organisations.