Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority

Human Resources Committee Item 9

3rd July 2009

Child Protection Arrangements

Report of the Chief Officer

Contact: Geoff Howsego, HR Director HFRS Email: geoff.howsego@hantsfire.gov.uk

Tel: 02380 626 842

1

Summary

1.1

This paper provides an update on the work being conducted to meet the service's obligation to take all reasonable steps to help protect children, young people and vulnerable adults as a provider of services to the public. The service has taken 3 key steps to achieve this aim. These are to update the entry on the Corporate Risk Register, to update the Criminal Disclosure Service Order and to introduce arrangements to undertake criminal record checks on key employees who have contact with children, young people and vulnerable adults as a regular part of their role.

2

RecommendationError! Bookmark not defined.s

2.1

That the Human Resources (HR) Committee note the risk item (Ref 11) on the Corporate Risk Register relating to the protection of vulnerable members of the community (attached at appendix A for reference).

2.2

That the HR Committee note the Criminal Disclosure Service Order has been amended to reflect the current Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) procedures and policy being applied within Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS).

2.3

That the HR Committee note the arrangements to undertake criminal record checks on all key employees who have contact with children, young people and vulnerable adults as a regular part of their role, which includes station based operational staff.

2.4

That the HR Committee note the budget provisions made in relation to the increased expenditure for the increased number of CRB checks being undertaken.

3

Introduction Error! Bookmark not defined.and Background

The actions taken by the Service that are detailed within this report, are result of a considered response to a review of our own internal procedures. This was in part triggered by observations of external events that had affected both other Fire and Rescue Services and areas of the public services more widely. These steps are clearly aimed at reducing risk and increasing public confidence in HFRS as a provider of services to all areas of the community.

4

Progress to date

4.1

Corporate Risk Register Entry

4.1.1

The Corporate Risk Register was updated to record the assessed risks associated with the Services obligations to take all reasonable steps to help protect children, young people and vulnerable adults as a provider of services to the public. It was considered that with a number of high profile cases in the public domain, the risk exposure would remain high. In particular, this was driven by the highest category of impact - level 5. It was further considered that the level of impact was not likely to reduce as any incident involving children, young people and vulnerable adults was always going to be significant for the service and therefore have a considerable impact.

4.2

CRB disclosure

4.2.1

The HR Department undertook research into the options available for checking its staff. The options considered included Enhanced, Standard and Basic CRB Checks. Enhanced and Standard CRB Checks are completed by the CRB in full which is an agency of the Home Office. Basic Checks are completed by `Disclosure Scotland. The checks carried out will consider criminal convictions, and if these are Enhanced or Standard checks, will also include those offences that are considered spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. Additional checks will be made for Enhanced checks over those done for Standard. A full explanation of the background and detail to the checks is contained in Appendix B.

4.2.2

There are categories of listed professions, offices, employments, work and occupations that are known as the exceptions to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. Organisations can normally only apply for a CRB Disclosure if the position is included in this list. Organisations must be registered with the CRB in order to submit individuals for checks. These are then known as `The Registered Body'. A Registered Body should indicate which category they are applying under on the Disclosure application form, by quoting one category code in the application form.  If the position relates to more than one code, only the first code in the list applies. This is important for Fire & Rescue Services as Fire Fighters (Ff) are not a listed regulated profession.

4.2.3

Therefore HFRS has had to submit a case to the CRB for consideration so that we can submit staff for checking via the CRB. This case was carefully scrutinised and was initially returned for further clarification. The case was accepted on resubmission and HFRS now have the authority to submit Firefighters for Enhanced Checks via the CRB

4.3

CRB Checking Procedures

4.3.1

The Service policy was updated to reflect the revised position on criminal disclosures. We had previously instigated Enhanced Checks for staff engaged in specific activities or roles. These primarily revolved around our Youth Engagement activities and included the following:

    · Fire setters

    · Young Firefighter Team Leaders

    · Schools Education Team

    · Princes Trust (Co-coordinator & Basic Skills Co-coordinator)

    · Youth Liaison Officers

    · Community Support Team

    · Arson Forum Co-coordinator

    · Co Responder Team

    · Firefighters based at Community Centres

    · Equality Outreach Workers

    · Young Firefighters Association Coordinators

    · Lead and Counter Signatories of CRB Checks

    · Local Intervention Fire Education (LIFE) Team

    · Cycling Proficiency Instructors

    · Duke of Edinburgh Awards Instructors

    · Teenage Road Accident Prevention Training (TRAPT) Facilitators

4.3.2

Our new policy expands this group to include all station based operational staff. This will include both new starters and existing staff. Completing this additional requirement is a considerable additional commitment for the service. All new starters into these posts will be subject to a CRB Check. No one can be compelled to complete the form for submission, however, the Service is clear that if candidates applying for such posts are not willing to give approval for such checks, then the conditional offer of employment is withdrawn.

4.3.3

Given the numbers of existing staff in station based operational posts it has been decided to complete checks over a rolling 3 year period. Work has been completed that has identified priory roles which will receive attention in advance of other areas. This will help to ensure that the task is manageable within existing resources and also coincides with the notional currency of CRB checks which is 3 years. Responsibility for managing the process is vested in the Recruitment Team (HR) with a nominated Lead Manager nominated by Service Delivery to provide support and liaison.

5

Contribution to Corporate Aims and Objectives

5.1

Implementation of the CRB arrangements ensure that HFRS remain compliant with legislative requirements. It will enable HFRS maintain a high level of public assurance and safety as we continue to target children, young people and vulnerable groups as part of our community safety activity.

6

Risk Analysis

6.1

Failure to fully comply with the requirements of the relevant legislation would significantly increase the risk of litigation or prosecution against the authority should there be any allegations made against HFRS staff engaged in activities that could be considered in the same light as a regulated post. Additionally, there would be a high probability of adverse publicity. There would be a resultant likelihood of damage to the reputation of the service and consequential loss of confidence in all the youth engagement and vulnerable people initiatives that the service delivers. This would significantly inhibit our ability to achieve the desired outcomes of our community and youth engagement strategies.

7

Resource Implications

7.1

Human Resources

The Human Resource Department will be responsible for the management of the process to deliver CRB checks to all roles that now are required to have such a check. There is no additional resource being allocated to the Recruitment Team who will deliver this and therefore will be absorbed into existing work plans. The Service will be required to nominate designated individuals to handle CRB returns and a designated Lead Signatory. Any work associated with the revision of Service Orders and procedures and subsequent communication of these arrangements will be completed by the Workforce Planning Team.

7.2

Physical Resources

None identified at this stage.

7.3

Information and Communications Technology Resources

None Identified at this stage.

7.4

Financial Implications

The additional cost to complete CRB checks for all those staff detailed above on a rolling 3 year cycle is £17,000. This additional cost has been allocated to a revised baseline for the HR Team and was taken from the Regional Activity budget.

8

People Impact Assessment

8.1

The policy has been assessed through the People Impact Assessment (PIA) process as having no differential impact.

8.2

The proposals within this report are considered compatible with the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Human Rights Act 1998, and the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000.

9

Consultation

9.1

In formulating this report we have had discussions with the Criminal Records Bureau, all Representative Bodies, SD managers and SMT.

10

Conclusion

10.1

The work that has been done to ensure that the policy on CRB checks has focused on providing maximum possible assurance for the organisation for all areas of our work where we have direct contact with children, young people and vulnerable adults. We have also looked carefully at our processes to ensure that these are properly managed. These checks for a part of an overall safe system work, which provides the organisation with assurance about the people who we ask to work on our Community and Youth Engagement programmes and projects. Further work is under way and this will further enhance the system. The close and effective working relationship that has been established between SD and HR provides another level of security which is an additional beneficial outcome of this work.

Background Information (Section 100D of Local Government Act 1972)

The following documents disclose the facts or matters on which this report, or an important part of it, is based and has been relied upon to a material extent in the preparation of the report:

· www.crb.gov.uk

· www.disclosurescotland.co.uk

· www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2006/ukpga_20060047_en_1

Note: The list excludes: (1) published works; and (2) documents that disclose exempt or confidential information defined in the Act.

Strategic Risk Register - Risk 11

REF

11

Risk Owner: Assistant Chief Officer - Community Safety

Risk description: Failure to protect vulnerable members of the community and our staff in the course of our service delivery, where there is contact between them

Risk categories: Legal, Reputation

Risk exposure:

Showing direction of travel since last review (éèê)

R

20

è

Initial score

Likelihood (L):

Impact (I):

Exposure score (L) x (I) = 15

Current Score

Likelihood (L):

Impact (I):

Exposure score (L) x (I) =

Target Score (when all controls in place)

Likelihood (L): 1

Impact (I): 5

Exposure score (L) x (I) = 5

Impact: Social, Reputational, Political

    · Litigation against the Authority and potential award of financial penalties and costs.

    · Adverse publicity, damaged reputation to the service and consequential loss of stakeholder confidence in all the youth engagement initiatives that the Service delivers.

    · Consequential damage to the Service core values.

    · Possible implications on individuals if allegations made

    · Possible adverse effect on industrial relations.

Control measures:

Target date/

Control owner:

Prevention measures - to reduce Likelihood (L):

Controls in place

A Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) audit of personnel whose primary role is a youth engagement activity has been completed, and enhanced CRB checks undertaken for all of these staff. Recording procedures have been amended to enable future management audits with a `bring forward' renewal summary established.

Human Resources Manager (Workforce Planning)

A review of Youth Engagement Approvals procedure has been completed and the approval documents reviewed and consolidated to provide the basis for new youth engagement initiatives to be identified and approved. CRB checks and Risk Assessment routing are inherent within the final product to ensure both are available and auditable prior to any activity commencing. This process is incorporated into the Community Risk Reduction Initiative process.

I Group

Proposed controls

Service Order 1/13 Criminal Disclosure Procedure to be revised following an investigation by the Director of Human Resources.

2008/09

A risk assessment audit process for Youth Engagement initiatives has been developed and trialled. A full audit is scheduled to be undertaken for all `live' Youth Engagement initiatives.

2008/09

All new grey book or relevant green book employees will be CRB checked before being issued a formal contract with the Service, or being allowed to take up duties.

Q4 2008/09

Systematic controls to be introduced to ensure that holders of regulated posts have current CRB checks

2008/09

All Grey book and relevant green book staff are to have CRB checks completed, and refreshed on a 3 - yearly basis.

To be rolled out over 3 years - target date 2011-12

A full review of community safety working practices will be undertaken, overseen by a suitable qualified individual.

Q4 2008/09 (children and young people)

Q1 2009/10

vulnerable adults)

All proposed or new activities, where there is contact with the public will be risk assessed and safe working practices instigated. Where appropriate, a child protection officer will be required to scrutinise the regimes in place.

Q4 2008/09

Mitigation measures - to reduce Impact (I):

Target date/

Control owner:

Controls in place

 

Marketing and communications emergency media plan

Head of Marketing & Communications

Proposed controls

 

Nil

 

Performance indicators:

Last updated December 2008

Last reviewed:

By HFRA: September 2008 CMT: February 2008 By SMT: October 2008