Safer recruitment means thinking about the safeguarding of adults, and promoting their welfare, at every stage of the recruitment process – to minimise the risk of employing unsuitable staff to work and care for adults with care and support needs by having robust selection and recruitment procedures in place. There should also be processes in place for when it becomes apparent that an employee is unsuitable to continue working in the care sector.

Safer recruitment requires a consistent and thorough process of obtaining, collating, analysing, and evaluating information from and about applicants. It should start with the planning of the recruitment process; if the post is advertised, the advertisement should make clear the organisation’s commitment to safeguarding and promoting good practice.

Selection processes should be based on best practice to select the most suitable candidate for the job whilst ensuring equality of opportunity for all applicants, but, excluding or rejecting those who may be unsuitable to work with our service users. Employers should expect candidates to understand their duties and responsibilities in relation to safeguarding as it applies to the post for which the candidate has shown an interest.

As a minimum standard, the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Safeguarding Adult Boards expect organisations to have the following Safer Recruitment practices in place (these are taken from the Safeguarding Adults Self- Assessment Toolkit):

All staff who have contact with adults with care and support needs are properly selected and have appropriate checks in line with current legislation and guidance:

  • At least 2 references are taken up and checked
  • Identity and qualifications are verified
  • Face to face interviews
  • Previous employment history is checked
  • Any anomalies or discrepancies are checked
  • Necessary DBS checks are carried out –

Organisations have an accessible safer recruitment policy which covers how to safely recruit staff who have contact with adults at risk.

For statutory organisations only – Staff involved in recruitment are suitably trained (e.g. at least one member on the short listing / interview panel must have been on safer recruitment training)

The Care Quality Commission (CQC)

When assessing providers of care, The CQC must consider section 19 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014

The intention of this regulation is to make sure that providers only employ ‘fit and proper’ staff who are able to provide care and treatment appropriate to their role and to enable them to provide the regulated activity. To meet this regulation, providers must operate robust recruitment procedures, including undertaking any relevant checks. They must have a procedure for ongoing monitoring of staff to make sure they remain able to meet the requirements, and they must have appropriate arrangements in place to deal with staff who are no longer fit to carry out the duties required of them.

Employing unfit people, or continuing to allow unfit people to stay in a role, may lead CQC to question the fitness of a provider.

If CQC considers that a breach of this regulation is also a breach of another regulation(s) that carries offence clauses, then they can move directly to prosecution without serving a Warning Notice. For example, in situations where the care and treatment is provided without the consent of a person using the service or someone lawfully acting on their behalf, and where it is unsafe, does not meet the person’s nutritional needs, results in abuse, or puts the person at risk of abuse.

CQC must refuse registration if providers cannot satisfy them that they can and will continue to comply with this regulation. For more information about CQC –

Processes for when there are concerns that a staff member maybe unfit to work with adults with care and support needs

As a minimum standard the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Safeguarding Adult Boards expect organisations to have the following practices in place (these are taken from the Safeguarding Adults Self- Assessment Toolkit):

  • There are clear and accessible procedures for handling complaints and allegations against staff.
  • Organisations have a policy detailing how records are maintained which include allegations made in respect of staff and for how long.
  • In the case of an allegation against a staff member the organisation ensures that immediate consideration is given to how best safeguard the adult at risk (e.g. suspension or not working unsupervised).
  • There is a named senior person to whom allegations or concerns should be reported

When should an employer refer to the DBS?

An employer must refer someone to the DBS, where it is clear that their employee has harmed a vulnerable adult and the nature of the incident/their behaviour leads them to conclude the employee is not suitable to work in the care sector. This is likely to apply when the behaviour of the employee has been sufficiently serious to warrant their dismissal from the service and they need to be prevented from working in the care sector in the future. Where an employee is dismissed in connection with any ill treatment of a vulnerable adult it is the responsibility of the employer to report the facts to the DBS. Where the employer is uncertain they must contact the DBS for advice as well as consulting with their own HR advisers. If the DBS are satisfied that the evidence shows that the ex-employee is unsuitable, they are placed on a barred list. This list should be checked by all employers when recruiting a new employee. It is an offence to work in the care sector if you are on the barred list. For most cases, the DBS only has the power to bar a person who is, has been, or might in the future engage in regulated activity.

(The DBS’ website is and provides a range of materials to help you understand what is a regulated activity and when to consider or make a referral. You can also contact the DBS Helpline on 01325 953795 for information or advice about making a referral).

Other relevant professional bodies

Other professional bodies have:

  • professional standards that their members are expected to adhere to,
  • disciplinary processes which can disbar members from eligibility to practice,
  • lists of who is registered which can be checked against in cases where there is any doubt regarding an individual’s qualifications to practice.

Where serious concerns are identified regarding an individual health or social work professional’s suitability, it may be appropriate to refer or consult with the relevant professional body in addition to reporting to the DBS. Concerns could relate to an individual’s practice, their mental health, or involvement as a perpetrator in a safeguarding matter.

(There is currently no regulatory body responsible for the regulation of unqualified social care staff)

Further measures to prevent unsuitable people from working with adults who have care and support needs

On occasion, information about an individual workers private life may be highlighted which may raise questions about their suitability to work in a health or social care setting.

Below are some examples:

  • A worker is cautioned following an incident of violence or drug possession or dishonesty or drink driving.
  • A worker has had their children removed from their care due to physical abuse.
  • A worker is understood to be a perpetrator of domestic violence.

This information should be managed in line with the organisations Persons in a Position of Trust Policy.