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British Council: Vetting

Volume 467: debated on Thursday 15 November 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the British Council’s policy is on conducting Criminal Records Bureau checks on (a) its employees and (b) people working on its behalf. (163688)

The British Council’s policy on conducting Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks complies fully with UK law. The British Council has in place a comprehensive child protection policy which all British Council staff and outside consultants or contractors whose responsibilities involve access to children and young people must adhere to.

Its employees

Since the early 1990s, the British Council has asked all newly recruited teachers to sign a child declaration form indicating that they have had no history or background relating to child protection issues that would preclude them from the British Council’s employment.

From January 2005, the British Council has implemented CRB checks on all staff working in the UK whose jobs involve contact with children.

From January 2007, the British Council has run CRB checks on all teachers recruited in the UK, through its headquarters to work overseas. Where teachers are recruited directly by overseas teaching centres, similar checks are run when available in the relevant country. This is available in six of the 48 countries in which the British Council have teaching centres. Where no CRB equivalent exists, the British Council will seek information on individuals in their references.

In addition, the British Council is conducting retrospective CRB checks on all teachers where these have not already been carried out. The British Council expects to complete checks on all teachers:

that have lived or worked in the UK by the end of 2007;

that have lived or worked in countries with CRB equivalents by mid-2008; and

in the remaining 42 countries where no CRB equivalent exists, where at all possible, by the end of 2008.

People working on its behalf

Employment agencies providing the British Council with temporary staff, and companies providing support services, must confirm that their own recruitment practices are consistent with the British Council’s child protection policy. For consultants and other temporary staff working in posts designated as having direct contact with children and young people, the British Council must receive confirmation that the individuals concerned have undergone due checks.