Practical guidance – Checklist for recruiters

This guidance sets out a simple step-by-step checklist when dealing with criminal records as part of your recruitment process. Use this before advertising and recruiting for a specific vacancy.

Do we need to ask?

Determine whether criminal records disclosure is necessary – what is the purpose of collecting this information? Is there a clear need for it, or are you asking out of habit? This will be important in demonstrating compliance with your legal and data protection obligations.

Are the vacancy details clear?

Let applicants know whether you ask about criminal records. If you don’t ask, say so. If you do ask, explain what you ask and when. If the role involves a criminal record check, explain whether that’s a basic, standard, enhanced or enhanced with barred list check.

If the role involves regulated activity, include a statement that makes it clear which group (children, adults or both) the regulated activity is with, and explain that it’s an offence for someone barred from that group to apply for the role.

Have we provided guidance for applicants?

This is especially important if you are asking about criminal records. Remember that this question in itself can be a barrier if people are unsure how they need to answer it, or what their criminal record contains. Offer applicants a specialist source of advice (such as linking to the Unlock or Nacro helplines). You should also direct applicants to a source of guidance that explains your specific organisation’s approach to criminal records. Ideally, link to your Applicants with Criminal Records policy. Or, summarise your approach in clear terms.

Consider whether you are able to offer a confidential source of advice from your own organisation. This person should be able to explain your processes and answer questions about how an individual criminal record might affect an application.

Is it time to collect criminal record information?

If you have chosen your preferred candidate and made them an offer, you can now request a criminal record check. Make clear what level of check you will be requesting, and what the next steps are once this has been requested. The applicant can then provide the certificate to you on receipt. Don’t assume that delays in provision of a certificate indicate information being revealed.

Consider any information disclosed

This is where you make an assessment of their criminal record. The information may be old, minor or irrelevant so further assessment may not be necessary. If you have concerns, gather more information from the applicant and make an informed decision.

Document your decision

Think about how you will document your decision and any adjustments put in place if manageable risks have been identified

If you make the decision to appoint, keep relevant notes on file but separately from other personnel information. If the person is not appointed, be as clear as you can about why. Make them aware of your data retention policy and delete information that is no longer needed.


This guidance was last updated in April 2024
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