Recruitment Vetting Guide. Your questions answered

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1 Recruitment Vetting Guide Your questions answered

2 What is the aim of the Recruitment Vetting procedure? The Recruitment Vetting Procedure provides some assurance of the reliability and trustworthiness of employees who have access to force premises, equipment and information. The procedure is only one of the measures in the Force Security Strategy, which meets the requirements of the ACPO National Vetting Policy and the National Police Improvement Agency Community Security Policy. Why is a vetting system necessary? Recent investigations by Kent Police and other forces have shown that criminals actively target police personnel to get confidential information that could further their criminal activities. Infiltration of the work force by associates of criminals is an additional security risk. Members of the press and private detective agencies also target police employees for confidential information. The Serious and Organised Crime Agency Strategic Assessment on Corruption highlights that most corruption cases involve police personnel leaking information to criminal associates. There is no standard pattern to how these relationships develop as contact may be made through social or work contacts. So the assessment recommends rigorous pre-employment screening for both police personnel and those working with us to identify inappropriate criminal relationships that could represent a risk to the force. The procedure should provide a balance between the rights of individuals to a private life, and the security needs of the force. The policy also serves to protect individuals and organisations employing them. Who is affected? All applicants seeking appointment to the force. What if I am from a minority group? It is the intention of the force not to discriminate against any individual on account of their age, disability, gender, transgender, sexual orientation, race, colour, language, religion or belief, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with national minority, property, birth, or other status as defined under Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. There are limited exceptions, such as membership of the British National Party, Combat 18 and National Front. Through the vetting process, all applicants must give details of people who live at the same address. In compliance with Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998, under no circumstances will matters relating to an applicant s sexual orientation or their right to practice individual sexuality, be regarded as relevant to the vetting process. It is anticipated that in the future, the ability to declare sexual orientation will form part of the personal questionnaire, to ensure that the decision making process is seen to be fair and appropriate in relation to sexual orientation.

3 What safeguards are there? Information provided will be kept in confidence, and will only be used for vetting purposes. Information will not be given to any outside agency or used for any other purpose, thereby complying with the rules of fair and lawful processing under the Data Protection Act How does the Recruitment Vetting Procedure work? In line with Articles 1, 8 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the aim is to ensure that checks are carried out in a proportionate way to safeguard the force s intelligence, financial and operational assets, and government national security assets. With this in mind all applicants must complete a Recruitment Vetting Form and a financial questionnaire. As you are submitting third party details (e.g. spouse or partner), you must ensure, where possible, that they are aware that their details have been submitted as part of your vetting check. Criminal record and crime intelligence checks on third parties are completed to find out if they could be in a position to exert influence on force employees, thereby compromising force information. Applicants are required to declare spent convictions (the Police Service is exempt under the provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, and Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (Exceptions) Order 1975.) These convictions will be taken into consideration on a case-by-case basis, together with all other information. Do I have to complete the procedure? Yes. Employment with the force is dependant on applicants completing the procedure successfully. What is meant by the term criminal association? Criminal association relates to association with anyone who has previous convictions or cautions, anyone who does not have criminal convictions or cautions but who is involved in criminal activities, or anyone who associates with such persons. Details of former criminal associates must also be included. Some applicants may belong to clubs, associations and organisations where fellow members fall into the above-mentioned category. If you are aware of this information, you must include it. If you have friends or relatives who fall into this category, you must also include their details. This information is necessary to meet the force obligations around the prevention of crime and public safety. You should be aware that membership of the British National Party, Combat 18 or the National Front is not compatible with employment to the force.

4 Under no circumstances should you, or anyone at your request, ask for information from the police to find outif any of your associates have criminal convictions, or are actively engaged in crime. What does a criminal record and criminal intelligence check entail? This involves a check on the Police National Computer and police intelligence databases. The checks will reveal if you, your spouse/partner, family members and other residents at your address have previous convictions or a criminal intelligence record. What does a Special Branch check entail? A check will be carried out on the Special Branch indices to establish whether or not you have any known connections with terrorist or subversive organisations intent on destabilising national security. Who will not be considered for employment with Kent Police due to their financial status? Those with existing County Court Judgements (CCJs) Those with current Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) Those who have been registered bankrupt and their bankruptcy debts have not been discharged. (Note: Those who have been registered bankrupt and their debts have been discharged will not be considered for employment until three years after their debts have been discharged). What is the purpose of the financial enquiries? The purpose of the financial enquiries is to meet the force s obligations around the prevention of crime and public safety by assessing if you have direct or indirect access to enough money to minimise the risk of financial inducement. The Serious and Organised Crime Agency Intelligence Strategic Assessment on Corruption highlights the risks posed by people with high personal debts. This is supported by evidence from cases investigated by Kent Police and other forces that has shown that the majority of people who have unlawfully disclosed police information have had substantial debts. Unfortunately, in the past, some people seeking vetting clearance have failed to give details of their spouse or partner s financial difficulties which has then affected their ability to carry out their work to a satisfactory standard, and left them vulnerable to inducement. This is why we ask for details of your spouse or partner s finances. However, if you are not aware of the extent of your spouse or partner s finances, and they will not tell you this information, or agree that the information should be included, you must indicate this in the financial questionnaire and include as much information as possible. When deciding whether or not to grant clearance, the Recruitment Vetting Team Leader relies on the information provided. If this is insufficient, a personal interview may be necessary.

5 Employees are most vulnerable when they have debts or other relevant factors that they have not disclosed through the vetting procedure. When the information has been provided in confidence the risk of compromise is significantly reduced. There is no need to worry about mortgage and credit card commitments that are in line with your income, so long as you are normally able to manage the repayments. Debts only become a problem where they are substantial and members of staff fail to take remedial action. Debts notified during the procedure will be dealt with in confidence. What information has to be declared in the financial questionnaire? All questions in the financial questionnaire must be answered, with the exception of those relating to spouse or partner finances, as outlined above. This includes: Failure to meet debt repayments You must declare if you have failed to meet any repayments of your debts, on credit/charge/debit/store/cheque cards, accounts, or any other outstanding credit facilities. In assessing your financial situation, we will consider the amount of your repayments and the length of time repayments have been suspended. Loan arrangements This relates to either an Individual Voluntary Agreement (IVA) through a county court, or any other voluntary agreement or loan arrangement negotiated with any of your creditors, for the repayment of your debts. Debt management You must indicate whether your financial affairs are being managed by a financial advisor or are the subject of a debt management plan by a debt management company. If this is the case you must keep yourself informed of your financial situation so that relevant financial difficulties can be declared. It is not satisfactory for you to simply forward any correspondence to the advisor or company without studying the contents and making the necessary declarations. Default notices A default notice is a formal notification from a creditor or lender that you are in arrears. The notice will include details of the creditor, the type of arrangement you have entered into with the creditor, and where applicable, an early settlement figure. The notice will also include details of any action that you can take to remedy the situation, and comply with the agreement within seven days of receipt. The notice will also include details of the proposed action by the creditor, if you do not comply with the agreement. If you are unable to comply with the proposed course of action, you should immediately contact the creditor to discuss arrangements for making repayments. You could also consider using a financial adviser or debt management company. County court claim forms After giving you a default notice, a creditor can start the process of recovering the money by issuing a claim form. The claim form is usually accompanied by an admission form which you must complete if you do not intend to dispute the claim, and a defence and counterclaim form if you intend to dispute the claim. The forms will come with instructions on how to complete them. If you receive a claim form, you will know that your creditor intends to start proceedings against you in the county court. The claim form will make it clear who is taking you to court,

6 the amount of arrears, and their proposed course of action. If you fail to respond to a default notice, the creditor could take out a county court summons against you. County court summons A summons to appear before the county court is usually printed on blue paper. In these circumstances, if you have not already done so, you should consider using the services of a financial adviser or a debt management company. County Court Judgements (CCJs) If your offer in the claim form is accepted by the county court, you will be given a County Court Judgement (CCJ) with details of when and how much to pay. If your offer is not acceptable or you do not reply within the allowed time, you will then be given a County Court Judgement (CCJ) to pay an amount decided by the court, which may be more than you can afford. In these circumstances you should write to the court quoting your case number, asking for a re-determination of the payment within 14 days of receiving the CCJ. If your financial circumstances change, you can write asking the court to vary the judgement. Before considering any response to the court you should consider seeking the services of a financial adviser or debt management company. If you have an existing CCJ you will not be considered for appointment to the force. Individual Voluntary Agreements (IVAs) Debtors can employ an Insolvency Practitioner to nominate them for an IVA. Debtors must then complete a proposal offering a lump sum or regular contributions, usually for five years. Copies of the proposal are sent to creditors who can vote to either accept or reject the proposal. If a majority of creditors (representing at least 75% of the money owing) accept the proposal, the IVA is approved and legally binding for all creditors (even those who may not have voted or those who rejected the proposal. Repayments are then made as agreed. Most IVAs result in creditors only receiving a small amount of the money owing to them which can cause extreme resentment amongst creditors. If you are the subject of a current IVA you will not be considered for appointment to the force. Bankruptcy Bankruptcy lasts for 12 months but the restrictions on getting credit, being a company director or working in certain professions still remain. Most people who have a regular income will also be required to make monthly payments for three years towards their debts, based on what the Official Receiver thinks they can afford. Debtors will be expected to sell any property they own, for example the family home, car or household effects, to pay back the money they owe. In relation to family homes this could happen up to three years after the date of bankruptcy, but without time limit for other assets. Once debtors have been discharged from bankruptcy they are no longer liable for any outstanding debts, as long as they were detailed in the bankruptcy proceedings. This provides a fresh start for those unable to clear their outstanding debts within a reasonable timescale. Again this can cause extreme resentment to those creditors who will not receive the amount owing to them. Bankrupts remain on credit reference databases for six years.

7 If you have been registered bankrupt and your bankruptcy debts have not been discharged you will not be considered for appointment to the force. What if my finances are managed by a financial advisor or debt management company? Employing a financial adviser or debt management company does not remove your responsibility to maintain an up-to-date account of your financial situation. You should therefore carefully study any correspondence received from creditors, solicitors, debt collection agencies or county courts, before forwarding copies to your financial adviser or debt management company. Not all documents are headed with the subject of the contents, for example County Court Judgement so study them carefully. You must be aware of the contents of the documents so that you can provide the necessary financial information when applying to join the force. What does a financial check entail? Based on the information provided in your financial questionnaire, a check will be made by Kent Police with Experian, an approved credit reference agency. Additionally, the Recruitment Vetting Team Leader may wish to talk to you about your financial situation. However, in most cases this will not be necessary. Why do I have to provide evidence of my identity? Identity checks are stipulated by the Home Office as an essential part of the vetting procedure. There is no point carrying out background checks unless we are sure of the identity of the person being checked. For this purpose you must present your passport and birth certificate. Copies of the documents will be taken and kept in your personal vetting file. Read the Home Office guidance on preventing illegal working: llegalworking/ Why may I have to complete similar information for higher vetting levels? For some roles, a counter terrorism check is conducted which means you must complete a separate (salmon coloured) form as this is dealt with by an external agency to Kent Police. What if I m tempted to keep quiet about something in my past and hope no one finds out? Knowingly providing false information or concealing information at any stage of the recruitment process could be regarded as evidence of unreliability and/or dishonesty. Indeed your clearance could be refused because of this, even if what you were trying to conceal may not have affected your vetting clearance. Furthermore, your clearance could be removed at a later date, and your employment terminated, if the facts subsequently come to light. It is only in the most serious cases that consideration will be given to refusing vetting clearance. The main objective of the vetting procedure is to ensure that individuals cannot be

8 compromised because they have secrets they do not wish to have disclosed, either to their employers or to the force. Do I have to notify changes to my personal circumstances? You must notify the Recruitment Vetting Team Leader of any changes to your circumstances that could affect your financial stability, sobriety, honesty or reliability. While it would not be practical to provide you with a definitive list, you should report criminal convictions, cautions or other judicial findings, serious disciplinary findings, association with convicted criminals or people involved in crime, matters which could make you more susceptible to pressure or improper influence to disclose information, and serious financial difficulties. What happens if I don t agree with the vetting decision? If you do not agree with the vetting decision you can request a review. You must send your request in writing to the Head of Central Vetting within 14 days from when you received notification of the vetting decision. The review will be carried out within 28 days of receiving your request. The review will normally be conducted by the Head of Central Vetting. However if the Head of Central Vetting is not available, or has been directly involved in the case, the appeal will be dealt with by the Head of Professional Standards. You will be notified in writing of the result of the review and the review decision is final. Further enquiries If you have any further queries, please contact the Recruitment Vetting Team Leader, Central Vetting Unit, Police Headquarters, Sutton Road, Maidstone. ME15 9BZ or call

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