Many of you may have heard of CRB checks, especially given how often they are mentioned on the news, but what are they, and do you, or your staff need one?

What is a CRB Check?

CRB stands for Criminal Records Bureau, and CRB checks are needed if you are intending to work with children or vulnerable adults within England and Wales.

The CRB report will gather information on you (and possibly those you are in contact with, so immediate family, spouses, etc) to allow the person who has requested it to evaluate your suitability to work or live with vulnerable groups which include:

  • children under the age of 18,
  • the elderly,
  • Adults with special needs.

They are not available for request by the general public, and can only be requested by your employer, prospective employer, or other organisations such as scouts, guides and school governing bodies.

The information it will gather varies depending on which level of CRB is applied for, basic, standard or extended, but the general information they will provide will include:

  • any information on previous convictions (both “spent and “unspent”) or
  • other dealings with the police, including cautions, reprimands and final warnings.

It is worth noting that individual’s can not apply for a CBR check on themselves, for instance the author is self employed and planned to work with children or other vulnerable groups running workshops and parties. Although I was told that as a parent would be there during parties/workshops I didn’t need one, I felt strongly that I wanted to have this extra layer of “safety” for both my own peace of mind and for that of the parents.

However I soon discovered that you can not directly apply for a CRB check even though you may need or want one. In fact, if you are like me, self-employed, you only real choices are to either approach a registered “umbrella” company to request the CRB for you, or to apply for a “Subject Access Request” directly at your local police station which gives the same sort of information.

There is a small fee involved with both routes (depending on what level of CRB Check – to check the costs please visit the home office website for the most up to date informaion), but it is well worth it for the peace of mind and could be all that is needed to prevent a situation developing where you need to contact a solicitor. Remember though, a CRB check isn’t a magic shield, you should still be careful how you conduct yourself around children, or other vulnerable groups while working with them.