1.1 Samaritans actively promotes equality of opportunity for all and welcomes applications from a wide range of applicants.
1.2 Samaritans is committed to safeguarding those that use our service, which includes carrying out background checks on certain volunteer and staff roles.
1.3 Samaritans recognises the contribution that people with criminal records make as employees and volunteers and welcomes applications from those with a criminal record.
1.4 This policy explains how we use criminal records as part of our recruitment and selection process.
- SCOPE OF THIS POLICY
2.1 This policy applies to all Samaritans Volunteers (including Branch Trustees and Central Charity Trustees) and a small number of staff roles where there may be direct contact with callers
2.2 This policy applies to the UK, Republic of Ireland and all Crown Dependencies. Procedures are detailed for each nation or jurisdiction in the Criminal Records Procedures.
- THE POLICY
3.1 Processing principles
3.1.1 Samaritans is committed to best practice when recruiting people with a criminal record and complies fully with the DBS, PVG and Garda Vetting codes of practice.
3.1.2 Samaritans undertakes to treat all applicants fairly. It is essential that people do not face unfair discrimination in any role within the charity, whether paid or voluntary
3.1.3 A criminal record will not normally prevent an applicant from being appointed as an employee or volunteer. We will judge each case on its merits and not discriminate unfairly against any applicant on the basis of a conviction or criminal record information disclosed to us
3.1.4 We will rely on consent as our legal basis for the collection and processing of data in order to carry out these checks and assess the suitability of applicants. The collection and processing of this data is necessary in order to protect the interests of the users of our service.
3.1.5 We will retain the data provided in order to complete the necessary checks and in line with our Record Retention schedule.
3.1.6 Information relating to criminal records will only be shared with authorised people, which may include Branch Director/Line Manager, Branch Safeguarding Administrator and Samaritans Branch and Volunteer Services team
3.2 Recruitment and advertising
3.2.1. For each vacancy at Samaritans, we will make it clear in the role description whether the position is covered by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (and so only requiring the disclosure of unspent offences) or whether it is exempt (and so requiring the disclosure of all convictions and cautions, even if they are spent, unless they are filtered).
3.2.2. For roles where a criminal record check is identified as necessary, all application forms, role descriptions and adverts will make clear what level of check will be required.
3.3 Criminal Record checking process
3.3.1. To ensure we recruit purely on skills and experiences, we do not ask for criminal record details at application stage.
3.3.2. Criminal records should be disclosed at the point of completing a criminal record application. We will ask applicants to disclose any unspent convictions or cautions.
3.3.3. For relevant volunteering roles, applications will be completed after a volunteer has been selected at the early stages of volunteer training. For relevant employment roles this will take place after a conditional offer of employment has been received.
3.3.4. Applicants have the option to self-disclose to their Branch Director/Line Manager before completing their criminal record application in case they wish to discuss this, however this is not mandatory. For those potential volunteers who have convictions that may present a safeguarding concern (a serious crime against a child or adult), we encourage individuals to disclose this at the earliest opportunity, so that all options can be explored.
3.3.5. Where information is identified on a criminal record check, a volunteer or employee may not be able to continue in their role until the decision-making process below has been followed, depending on the role being applied for.
3.3.6. Criminal record checks will be repeated at a maximum of three-year intervals unless the organisation identifies a need to carry out a check sooner – for example, we become aware that a volunteer or employee may have received a caution or conviction since their previous check.
3.4 Decision making process
3.4.1. Samaritans has a clear and transparent decision-making process upon identifying any criminal records information, in accordance with relevant Rehabilitation of Offenders legislation.
3.4.2. When a criminal records check returns with disclosed information, a referral will be made to Samaritans Central Charity who will assess the information. For potential volunteers with convictions that may present a safeguarding concern, a leaflet with more detailed information about our vetting and decision-making process, is available by emailing [email protected]
3.4.3. Samaritans ensures that all those within Samaritans who are involved in the recruitment process have been suitably trained to identify and assess the relevance and circumstances of offences, as well as training in relevant legislation relating to the employment of those with criminal records.
3.4.4. For any information disclosed, cases will be looked at on an individual basis. Samaritans may request additional information from an applicant, and will take into account details such as:
- Whether the offence is relevant to the position applied for
- Relevant details of the offence (s)
- The length of time since the offence (s) or since release into the community
If appropriate, Samaritans may request a reference from a relevant professional who knows the applicant.
For questions or support with the policy, please contact [email protected], or contact the relevant DBS, PVG or Garda Vetting scheme.
- APPROVAL AND REVIEW
This policy was prepared by the Volunteer Development Manager and approved by Samaritans Board of Trustees to provide a framework for the management of the criminal records vetting process. It will be reviewed annually to ensure continuing appropriateness.