A Message on Vetting from Company Secretary – Si Smith

Members will have possibly seen articles in “Professional Security “about vetting, and this is a matter that we here keep under review. As you will all know, we run an excellent Course to assist Companies with training vetting staff. The Supreme Court has also decided several cases, which the Press and some charitable institutions have hailed as great victories for individual liberty. Of course, such bodies have a serious vested interest in promoting that view, but the reality remains rather more prosaic. Whilst the cases dealt, mainly, with enhanced disclosure of convictions which would not apply to most Security vacancies, teachers and social care people were being prejudiced by the disclosures of, in some cases, minor matters. A woman with two convictions in Northern Ireland for not having her child properly strapped in whilst in a vehicle was one.  Whilst not demeaning the danger of unsecured children, the refusal to let her be a social career for children was questionable. (Presumably, as children, the usual NI defence “it interferes with my shoulder holster “did not apply. Also, the return of normal Policing seems to have damaged the legendary sense of humour of the Constabulary there!)


A more questionable case was a person acquitted of a sexual offence charge. A certain, ( no names ) leading large police force’s civilian lady, in disclosing, made remarks about how, in her view, he’d got very lucky with his Jury. Her Boss, an Inspector who, I suspect, was serving out his final years and had lost his “ Mojo “ ( and who can blame him in today’s world ) clearly signed something he either had not read or could not be bothered to disagree with. Possibly, he had to exist in the office after disagreeing with the lady, a clearly forceful character with her own views.



A further worry has been cause by a view expressed in the above magazine about the financial affairs of applicants for jobs. This is a difficult issue, far more so, I venture to suggest, than convictions. It could be argued that a person with numerous debts is a bad risk, as more likely to commit dishonesty. However, it can be equally pointed out that there are those with no discernible debts, for precisely the same reason. They steal enough to avoid debts. I, certainly, have known serious criminals with no debts, the drug trade being lucrative. Equally, I saw a case where the ostensible owner of a restaurant had to fall back on his silent partner to pay a debt, as the VAT people were emptying his restaurant. When last seen, the ostensible owner was being severely remonstrated with for bringing VAT Officers to his door. (The “Minder “of the silent partner having ostensible hands in a chest freezer, and slamming the lid down repeatedly. I felt his pain, theoretically, he felt it more practically)


What is easily overlooked is that at the end of the day, it is for employers to “take the risk “of employing people and that full disclosure is often, actually, more deserving of trust than technical attempts to hide facts. In a job I had, two cases came up, in one, a person in his 40s declared a conviction as a juvenile, which he need not have done, of being carried in a TWOC’d car. In the other, a man of similar age did not feel that a Fine, a couple of years previously, by a regulator, confirmed on appeal by a Judge, was relevant. When it was revealed, he felt it was not our business, despite it not having been paid, commented upon by the Judge. A mere £75,000, and coupled with pithy Judicial comment on the chap’s honesty.  We took one of the two, guess which.


Overall, whilst we may admire the Charitable people who fight these cases, (or not) the basic facts remain that some vetting is necessary, and Companies have a duty of care to staff, customers and, possibly, even the general public, depending on circumstances. There has, recently, been a case about security staff being employed with convictions, and, allegedly re offending and, some years ago, a Train operating company (TOC) was endlessly sued following an assault on a commuter by a staff member. That itself was costly, Companies are often required to fund legal advice and this matter went on, and on, and was appealed.


Additionally, asking people for information, as well as testing their honesty, is much better than the “ good old days “ where, frankly, often, vetting consisted of someone “ ex Job “ being employed to ring a friend down at the local Nick and rely on what they were told. Anybody in the Charities concerned who wants to make vetting so hard that the old system is, once again, considered, is seriously not helping the prospective personnel.  It is not objective.


IPSA continues to run these Courses for vetting to BS 7858. They are excellent, and help to balance an Employer’s mind.

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