Enhanced CRB checks for social work academics

I just received this email from a social work academic – about the growth of enhanced CRB checks within academia, even when academics have little contact with children or vulnerable adults. It shows the continuing confusion about when CRB checks should and should not be carried out – as well as about the interpretation of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

‘I am a social work academic and one area that I am particularly concerned about is the requirement by many universities for academic social work posts (and related areas) to be subject to enhanced CRB checks.

‘For example, in today’s Education Guardian in the jobs adverts, there is an ad from Manchester Met for three professorial posts in the Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care. The ad says that ‘these posts are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (1974) and an enhanced CRB check will be undertaken…’. Ironically, this statement is directly below a line that says ‘MMU values diversity and welcomes applications from all sections of the community’.

‘I cannot see any basis that would make this requirement legitimate. These posts and similar academic social work posts are no different to any other academic posts. The job descriptions say that the person will manage, research and teach. Such posts are not on the list of exempted jobs and there is no particular contact with children or vulnerable adults. The only likely scenario where such contact would take place would be in relation to specific research projects with such groups, but in my experience it would be poorly paid research assistants doing the leg work with the research subjects.

‘If you look on the jobs web site – jobs.ac.uk – and look up academic social work posts, you will see that a number of universities do insist on enhanced CRB (UEA and Northumbria being examples). However, there are others offering similar posts that do not. Therefore it cannot be a legal requirement.’