Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults in Northern Ireland BY characters Isabella Gordon September 2005 1 (Child Protection Policy – HRS Section) Section 1 – The Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (N’) Order. Overview of the Legislation The Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (N’) Order (ii. POOCH) became operational (with the exception of Article 46) in April 2005. In relation to the protection of children specifically, the legislation aims to improve existing safeguards by preventing unsuitable people obtaining work, in any capacity, whether paid or unpaid, with children.
The Protection of Children (N’) Service (ii. POCK (N’) Service) is operated by the POOCH Team based in the Child Care Policy Directorate at the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (ii. DASHES). POOCH provides a legislative basis to child care organizations for (a) screening prospective employees to childcare positions and (b) referral of those in childcare positions. However, it also allows for organizations who are not childcare organizations but have regulated positions, which would include the Council, to make use of the POCK (N’) Service.
Section 2 – Policy Definitions 1 . A regulated position (as defined by the legislation) includes those who work in a range to establishments providing services tort chi Eider. It also includes those who, in the course of their normal duties, care for, train, advise and counsel or supervise, or are in sole charge of children as well as the supervisors/managers of individuals in “regulated” positions. 2. A child meaner a person under the age of 18. 3.
Misconduct (as defined by the legislation) is misconduct which harmed a child or placed a child at risk of harm and was committed (whether or not in the course of employment) at a time when the individual was employed in a jugulate position. What constitutes misconduct is a matter for the Council to decide based on each situation as no definitive guidance exists. Misconduct would range from sexual abuse through to physical abuse which resulted in harm or risk of harm to children. Acts of omission and commission should both be considered. Isabella Gordon September 2005 2 4.
Reference to personnel (regulated positions) essentially encompasses anyone, paid or unpaid, who falls under the Jurisdiction of the Council. This will include: a. Applicants for employment irrespective of contract status (e. Full-time/part-time, armament/temporary and casual) b. Individuals employed under a contract of employment (e. All employees) c. Casual workers (ii. Individuals largely retained on a list to cover work on an irregular or unpredictable basis ) d. Individuals employed under a contract personally to execute work (egg. Scalloped) e. Volunteers (ii. Individuals providing their services free gratis) t. Other personnel provided by external sources (egg. Agency/supply start, private contract workers, students/graduates in training or in work placement) 5. Reference to application includes any approach (verbal or in writing) by an individual or organization (on behalf of an individual) to be considered for a regulated position within the Council’s remit. This will include, for example, Job application forms, requests for work experience/training placements, curriculum aviates from recruitment agencies and tender documents.
Section 3 – Screening of Prospective Personnel Requirement to Check The legislation suggests an implicit responsibility on non child care organizations to undertake checks on all personnel (identified in Section 2(4)) for regulated positions prior to appointment/engagement. In failing to carry out appropriate checks the Council could find itself without adequate defense against a charge of knowingly employing/contracting someone who is disqualified from working with children. Therefore, the Council will take all practicable steps to ensure that prospective personnel are suitable to work with children before offering a regulated position.
Nature of Checks Provided The POCK (N’) Service provides information from the following sources: – Disqualification from Working with Children List (ii. DOC (N’) List). This list contains the names of people who have been referred to the DASHES by their Isabella Gordon September 2005 3 employers because their misconduct (whether in the course to employment or elsewhere), harmed a child or placed a child at risk of harm, and following a review of all the information, including submissions by the individual, the DASHES is satisfied that the individual would not be suitable to work with children. Department of Education List of those unsuitable to work with children. – Lists held by government departments in England and Wales (BOCA) and Scotland (DOC List). These lists are only checked when an individual gives a previous address in these Jurisdictions. Criminal Records. This check from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (e. SIN) provides details of all convictions, cautions and bind-over orders which occurred within the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. Whenever possible criminal records will also be obtained from abroad.
Individuals who are the subject of a Disqualification Order (imposed by a Court) will be also be disclosed as part of this check. POCK (N’) cannot guarantee an individual’s suitability. Checking cannot substitute for sound recruitment and selection, and child protection practices. General Rules on Screening 1 . The Council will be directly responsible for requesting checks for regulated positions on: – Applicants for employment irrespective of contract status. Requests for checks will only be made where the individuals are the preferred applicants tort a regulated position ii. Individuals to whom a conditional tote of appointment has been made or who have been placed on a reserve list. – Existing employees. Requests for checks will only be made where (a) changes occur in the duties/responsibilities of the individual’s substantive post redefining it to a jugulate position or (b) the individual is being considered for transfer or (c) has been offered a regulated position where this had not previously been the case. Pre-employment checks should not be carried out retrospectively on employees. – Individuals employed under a contract personally to execute work, and volunteers.
Isabella Gordon September 2005 4 2. Where prospective personnel are supplied to the Council, the External Provider (egg. Recruitment Agencies, Private Contractors, Colleges/Universities etc. ) will be responsible for carrying out the appropriate checks. The Council will require that al relevant checks have been conducted by the External Provider at least within the previous 12 months at the time of requisition. Where the checks exceed this time-frame, the Council itself will, with consent, carry out the relevant checks prior to any appointment.
In addition, the Council, as the Lead Partner for the New Deal Consortium, must ensure that the relevant checks on participants to regulated positions (in either Council facilities or external organizations) have been completed by the Placement Provider prior to placement. Procedure for Requesting Checks A summary to the screening procedure is attached at Appendix 1 . All prospective personnel to regulated positions will be informed at the time of initial application that any appointment will be subject to satisfactory checks.
The Council’s standard Consent Form (available from Human Resources) will be issued to all prospective personnel to: – advise that the position sought is deemed to be regulated, and – advise of the nature of the check, the type of information which may be obtained and how such information will be used, and – obtain consent to carry out the check: and obtain details of all pending prosecutions, convictions and cautions and bind-over orders. Where consent is withheld by prospective personnel their applications for regulated positions will not be accepted.
Checks on completed Consent Forms will only be requested by either the Nominated or Deputy Nominated Officers (based in Human Resources) whose authorized signatures are held by the DASHES. Requests for checks, depending on where the individual has ever resided, will be forwarded by either the Nominated or Deputy Nominated Officer to the POOCH Team at DASHES and/or the Criminal Records Office of SIN. Processing of Checks The timescale for return of checks to the Council will depend on the extent of any checks required.
Prospective personnel will not be permitted to take up Isabella Gordon September 2005 5 appointment [engagement in regulated positions until satisfactory checks have been rice by the Council. The results of checks will only be returned to either the Nominated or Deputy Nominated Officer and will state either: -“No trace on the details provided” or – “The subject may be the individual to whom the information refers” (ii. DOC (N’) List, Dept. Of Education, Criminal Records or other department lists). Interpretation and Use of Information Provided Where there may be a match in the information provided, the Nominated or
Deputy Nominated Officer, in liaison with the relevant Council Department, will interpret and use this information. The decision on whether or not to preclude the individual from appointment/engagement will be made in conjunction with the guidelines set down by the DASHES and in line with the Council’s responsibilities under equality of opportunity. The Council will preclude prospective personnel from working in regulated positions where they are (a) on the DOC (N’) List (included provisional listing) or (b) the subject of a Disqualification Order (imposed by a Court).
Handling and Storage of Information All information provided by POCK (N’) Service and SIN will be treated as highly sensitive and strictly confidential. Until a decision is reached on the appointment/engagement of an individual, the information will only be accessible to the Nominated and Deputy Nominated Officers and securely stored. Once the final decision on appointment/engagement is made, the original information provided by pop I) Service and SIN (and any copies made) will immediately by shredding. Section 4 – Referrals to DASHES Requirement to Refer Although not legally required, all non child care organizations with regulated sections are encouraged to take advantage of the POCK (N’) Service to ensure they provide appropriate safeguards for children in their care and, where Isabella Gordon September 2005 6 appropriate, to refer names to the DASHES for consideration of inclusion on the Disqualification from Working with Children List (DOC (N’) List) on the grounds of misconduct.
Grounds for Referral Based on the legislation, the Council may refer names to the DASHES for inclusion on the DOC (N’) List where: – an individual has been terminated by the Council, or the individual has, for example, resigned, retired or has been transferred to another (non-regulated session) in the Council and where information not available to the Council at the time has since become available.