Funders demand unnecessary CRB checks

Over zealous funders are demanding that charities break the law by carrying out criminal records checks on all volunteers, according to Volunteering England.

The charity has been contacted by a number of volunteer managers who have been asked for enhanced Criminal Records Bureau checks on all volunteers. Enhanced checks, which can include information that did not lead to a conviction, are only required for those who are regularly involved in directly caring for, supervising, training or being in sole charge of vulnerable individuals.

Mark Restall, head of information at Volunteering England said that the charity had taken calls from volunteer managers, who were being asked to carry out checks on all volunteers even where they would not be in contact with vulnerable individuals.

“There are strict limits on who should be checked, and funders are, in effect, demanding that organisations break the law,” he said. “Funders have a great degree of power and influence over the organisations they support, and should take care to ensure that funding terms are fair and reasonable.”

Bridget Owen, from Dover District Volunteer Centre, claimed that she had received conflicting messages from funders.

“At first we carried out enhanced checks on all our volunteers because we felt obliged to err on the side of caution,” she said. “But then we were told by the umbrella body that carries out checks on our behalf that was wrong.

“Later, Kent County Council, who we run a number of services for, said the opposite. We just want clear guidelines so we know what we should be doing.”

A spokesman for the Criminal Record Bureau declined to comment but confirmed that checks should only be carried out where necessary.

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