Pen and paperEmployers have to deal with and be aware of an enormous amount of legislation. This article deals with an important piece of law: the requirements of Criminal Record Disclosure when recruiting people in positions of trust.

Today, effective recruitment means that it is more important than ever to check the background of employment candidates. The Disclosure scheme, as described in this article, helps all employers (in both the profit and non-profit sectors) to make more informed recruitment decisions.

The Criminal Records Bureau

The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) was set up by the Home Office to help organisations make safer recruitment decisions. By providing wider access to criminal record information, the CRB helps employers in the public, private and voluntary sectors identify candidates who may be unsuitable for certain work, especially that involving contact with children or other vulnerable members of society.CRB

The CRB provides:

  • employees and volunteers with certificates detailing criminal convictions. Employers and voluntary organisations – many of whom are able to access such information for the first time – are able to take this information into account in judging people’s suitability for posts. This is especially important in relation to those working with children and vulnerable adults.
  • a service to employers and voluntary groups of all kinds, called Disclosure. An employer can use the Disclosure service to help establish whether a successful candidate has a background that might make him or her unsuitable for the job or voluntary position in question.

The CRB carries out criminal record checks for individuals, on application, in exchange for a fee. The level of check is determined by the duties of the position to be taken up. The CRB advises and offers guidance to applicants and employers as to which kind of Disclosure is needed in individual cases. In general, work that brings adults into close contact with children or other vulnerable groups, and jobs that are sensitive for other reasons qualify for the highest-level Disclosures.

Previous arrangements

Previous arrangements for access to criminal record checks were seen as being unsatisfactory. Although some organisations had access to checks undertaken by the police, most employers had no way of checking a person’s background in this way. In particular, the voluntary sector had very limited and inadequate access to checks. Most employers had no access at all to checks prior to the introduction of the Disclosure service.

The CRB has widened access to checks so that all employers and voluntary organisations can ask successful candidates to apply for a check. Access to checks is via a single contact point, offering a one-stop shop and a consistent service to all.

Previously, police checks were mainly confined to people employed in the statutory sector in jobs involving significant unsupervised access to children. Many other staff in the statutory sector working with children, or with vulnerable adults were not subject to police checks. Similarly, many other employers, and voluntary organisations did not routinely have access to police checks. The establishment of the CRB means that such information is more accessible, and that the work is specifically resourced, including the contribution made by the police.

The Disclosure Scheme

Criminal Record ExposureDisclosure provides a regulated “one-stop” service in England and Wales, offering controlled access to a variety of records. Two levels of Disclosure are available, dependent on the type of work involved. All give relevant information about a candidate’s background. The CRB can offer guidance as to which is the appropriate Disclosure Scheme for a particular job.

Further information

This article only deals with a few aspects of the Criminal Record Disclosure regime. The Bizezia Online Library includes a PDF publication covering this subject. If you would like a copy, please email me at:

Martin Pollins
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