|This guidance is currently being updated to reflect the new designation of the Criminal Records Agency (CRB) as the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and associated reduction in the scope of roles that require a Disclosure check.|
1.1 For all vacancies the University advertises, the application process includes declaring any ‘unspent’ criminal convictions as defined in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. However, where the post involves regulated activity involving contact with children or vulnerable adults and in certain other cases, the University is entitled to make enquiries about the applicant’s entire criminal record and will seek a disclosure through the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) to do this. Regulated activity will also require the appointed candidate to be registered with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) and for employers to check registration on appointment. The ISA is the decision making body for the Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) introduced by the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, which makes it a criminal offence for the University to knowingly employ a barred individual to undertake regulated activity.
1.2 Guidance on the CRB disclosure process and the procedure for recruiting where disclosure applies is outlined in section 5.2 below. The requirement for employers to check ISA registration for new recruits will come into force during November 2010 and further guidance on this process will be included here in due course.
1.3 Having a criminal record does not necessarily preclude an individual from working at the University of Bristol. This will depend on the nature of the job, the outcome of any CRB disclosure or ISA registration check, and/or the circumstances and background of the offences. The University encourages self-disclosure by applicants.
1.4 For the majority of University posts CRB disclosure and ISA registration will not be required and applicants are only required to declare unspent criminal convictions. The procedure for considering any declared unspent convictions is outlined in section 4 below.
1.5 The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 was introduced to ensure that ex-offenders who have not re-offended for a period of time since the date of their conviction are not discriminated against when applying for jobs. The Act enables ex-offenders to ‘wipe the slate clean’ of their criminal record, except for the most serious offences, after a specified time (ie the conviction becomes 'spent'). The Act defines time periods after which different types of convictions become spent. It also makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against an ex-offender on the grounds of a spent conviction.
1.6 These guidelines apply irrespective of how the University becomes aware of an applicant’s criminal convictions, and therefore includes self-disclosure by the applicant, CRB disclosure and ISA registration checks.
 The CRB is an executive agency of the Home Office and its primary purpose is to help employers make safer recruitment decisions and appointments. By conducting checks and providing details of criminal records and other information (i.e. the disclosure report), the CRB will help identify applicants who may be unsuitable for certain work and positions, especially those involving contact with children or other vulnerable members of society.
2.1 Information provided in a CRB disclosure report must be kept confidential and on a need-to-know basis. Such information will be handled in accordance with the University’s Policy statement on the secure storage, handling, use, retention and disposal of disclosures and disclosure Information. Any other information regarding offences must be kept securely and in accordance with the University’s Guidelines on the Data Protection Act.
2.2 Applicants need to feel confident that information about their convictions will not be disclosed to colleagues unless there is a specific reason for doing so. You should ensure that when you appoint an individual with a conviction, they are advised as to who within the organisation knows of their conviction and the reasons why the information has been disclosed.
3.1 Personnel Services work with schools and departments to identify posts that require CRB disclosure and such posts are formally flagged as requiring a CRB check as part of the recruitment process. Personnel Services will be undertaking an audit in the summer of 2010 to identify all posts across the University that involve regulated activity and so will be subject to a check to ensure that new recruits are registered with ISA from November 2010.
3.2 The majority of posts at the University do not involve regulated activity; examples of the sorts of roles where regulated activity is likely to apply include:
3.3 Even where a post has some contact with children or vulnerable adults, in many cases, for instance staff working at summer schools or undertaking normal teaching duties, this will not meet the definition of regulated activity and so would not be subject to ISA registration. There may be a small number of posts for which CRB disclosure is deemed to be appropriate but ISA registration is not required, for instance security staff or staff working with animals. A definitive list of roles at the University that will require CRB disclosure and/or ISA registration will be available here soon.
3.4 CRB disclosure for University clinical staff who have an honorary contract with an NHS Trust for their clinical responsibilities will be obtained by the Trust and not the University.
3.5 Further advice on the circumstances in which regulated activity applies or CRB disclosure may be required can be obtained from the Recruitment Manager.
4.1.1 The University’s job application form requires applicants for all posts to provide details of any unspent criminal convictions. This information is sent directly to the Recruitment Manager, and is not forwarded to departments with the application form. Where an unspent conviction is declared, a covering letter is attached to the application form indicating that the department should contact the Recruitment Manager if the applicant is short-listed for interview – however, no information on the nature of the unspent conviction will be provided at this stage.
4.1.2 If the role is an Hourly Paid Teacher and a selection process is not involved, on receiving a declaration of an unspent conviction the Recruitment Manager will initiate the process outlined in section 4.3 below.
4.2.1 The first step in any selection process is to make an assessment of all applicants’ relevant skills, experience, qualifications and ability to do the job on the basis of their application, the job description and the selection criteria. The fact that an applicant has declared an unspent conviction is not for consideration at this stage.
4.2.2 If you decide that an applicant should be short-listed, and on contacting the Recruitment Manager receive confirmation that they have an unspent conviction, you should proceed to interview the applicant alongside the other short-listed applicants. All applicants must be judged on merit in the normal way: Do they meet the requirements identified in the selection criteria? Do they have the relevant qualifications and can they demonstrate the required experience and skills? Are they likely to show commitment to the job and a willingness to make a success of it?
4.2.3 Only after such an assessment has been completed, and a decision taken that the candidate who has declared an unspent criminal conviction is the best candidate, should the conviction and it’s relevance to the specific role be explored and discussed in more detail. This process will take place before an offer of employment is made.
4.3.1 All discussions relating to convictions must take place after the selection process has been completed and will involve the chair of the selection panel and the Faculty Personnel Manager. As part of the decision-making process they will normally meet with the individual; the aim of this meeting will be to obtain further information and to achieve a structured, well-managed, open and honest discussion between the three parties.
4.3.2 Any convictions which are for a road traffic offence for which the individual received a fixed penalty fine with a maximum of three penalty points should be disregarded, unless driving is a core activity of the post.
4.3.3 The suitability for employment of a person with a criminal record will clearly vary, depending upon the nature of the job and the details and circumstances of any convictions. The decision should be made on the basis of a risk assessment to enable the applicant’s criminal record and circumstances to be assessed in relation to the tasks he or she will be required to perform and the circumstances in which the work is to be carried out.
4.3.4 The following job-related factors should be taken into account:
4.3.5 The assessment is also likely to include consideration of the following factors relating to the individual’s offence(s):
4.3.6 Having considered carefully and thoroughly all these matters, and obtained any further information from relevant bodies such as the Probation Service, a decision can then be taken as to whether the individual should be appointed. If the decision is not to appoint, a letter will be sent to the individual confirming the reasons for this decision.
4.3.7 The above process will also be followed in the event of an unspent criminal conviction coming to light after the formal offer of employment has been made or during employment. In such cases the University would reserve the right to withdraw the offer of appointment where appropriate or terminate employment in line with the University’s Conduct procedure.
5.1.1 Where the University is recruiting to a post that involves regulated activity (see section 3 above), the job advert and further particulars will confirm that a CRB disclosure and (from November 2010) ISA registration will be requirements of the appointment.
5.1.2 As with all University vacancies, applicants are required to self-disclose any unspent convictions. However, as outlined in section 4.2 above, this information will not be considered as part of the selection process.
5.1.3 When the best candidate for the post has been identified, the verbal and written offer of appointment will be made subject to a satisfactory CRB disclosure report and (from November 2010) confirmation of ISA registration.
5.2.1 Applications for a disclosure can only be made by CRB registered bodies and the University has this designation. A designated CRB countersignatory must authorise the disclosure application and there are a number of countersignatories in Personnel Services.
5.2.2 The selected candidate will be sent a CRB disclosure application form and guidance by Personnel Services with the formal offer of appointment. The completed disclosure form and associated ID documentation must be verified in person. This can either be done by the line manager or, more usually, the individual making an appointment bringing the documents into Personnel Services to be checked by a countersignatory. The countersignatory will check the form is fully completed, confirm which type of disclosure is required (ie whether the post is working with children, vulnerable adults or both), countersign and forward to the CRB.
5.2.3 The CRB will then process the application and return a disclosure report to the countersignatory, with a copy also sent to the individual. The published CRB turnaround time is for 95% of disclosures to be sent out within 4 weeks.
5.2.4 The CRB charge a fee for producing a disclosure report, which is paid for by the University from a central budget held by Personnel Services.
5.2.5 The disclosure report provides information on spent and unspent convictions, plus any cautions, reprimands, final warnings or other non-conviction information held by police.
5.2.6 Wherever possible the CRB disclosure should be obtained prior to the individual commencing employment, but sometimes this may not be possible. In such cases, if its not feasible to delay the start date, the individual can commence employment but only on a supervised basis for those aspects of the job involving contact with children or vulnerable adults until such time as a satisfactory disclosure report is received.
5.2.7 In some cases, an applicant may already have received a satisfactory disclosure report for their current or a previous position at the University. It may be appropriate to use the existing report to assess suitability for the post, taking account of the date the report was produced and similarities between the two positions. The Recruitment Manager should be consulted on such cases.
5.2.8 Disclosure reports for applicants with a substantial record of overseas residence, including current UK residents and British nationals, may not include information on convictions from outside the UK. In most circumstances however, a disclosure report should still be sought. The CRB can also offer guidance on the availability of criminal record checks in a variety of foreign countries and the applicant can be requested to obtain the equivalent checks from the country in question, where available.
5.3.1 The system for checking whether an applicant is ISA registered will be implemented in November 2010 and further guidance on this process will be included here in due course.
5.3.2 If an applicant is not ISA registered at the time of the appointment, the University and the applicant will be able to apply for both ISA registration and a CRB disclosure using the same form from July 2010.
5.3.3 As it is a criminal offence for the University knowingly to permit a barred individual to undertake regulated activity, an applicant who applies for a vacancy that involves regulated activity, and who is barred under the ISA scheme, must be automatically rejected.
The Countersignatory will make an initial assessment of the content of the disclosure report. If the report provides no evidence of convictions or any other related information, the individual will be sent a letter confirming their appointment.
If the report confirms a conviction or any other related information, the Recruitment Manager will make an initial assessment of whether the information provided has any potential relevance to the post. If there is clearly no potential relevance, the individual will be sent a letter confirming their appointment.
If the report confirms a potentially relevant conviction or any other potentially relevant information further exploration will be required following the process outlined in section 4.3 above.
 Disclosures for employment outside of the University are not portable, in line with CRB policy.