Watch your back(ground): do you check out to work with UK kiddies?

Do you like kiddies so much that people pay you to hang out with them?

Then you might need some manner of background check to work in the UK.

My former job in NZ was (in a nutshell) trying to stop Sex Offenders (or ‘Sexos’ as we called them) from getting positions working with children, young people, and the more vulnerable members of society. Because of this experience, I’m regularly asked questions about similar requirements for such jobs over here. Rather than repeat myself, here is my handy dandy guide!

Every company has a different hoop to jump through, but the one constant will be a CRB check (apparently now re-dubbed a DBS check – who knew?). I am no expert on this process as I’ve never had to do one (I think my government secret clearance trumps their DBS check, pfft!). However, I’ve seen my teacher/nanny friends deal with it and the gist is this: the company hiring you will provide you with everything you need to do, probably pay for it, and if you’re applying to multiple places, it will count across all of them.

If they tell you they also need a ‘Police Clearance’ from NZ, you can smile smugly at them because you know that this doesn’t exactly exist. NZ Police only do vetting checks for specific jobs in the country (for schools, hospitals, childcare companies, CYFS, etc) and other types of vetting where it is national security at risk, rather than the kidlets.

What you do need is a Criminal Record Check from the Ministry of Justice. The Police vetting service has access to more information than the MOJ, which is why they are responsible for checking you out if you wanna adopt a kid or whatnot. But the MOJ own the information on Convictions, which is what will be provided under a Criminal Record Check (and Police can’t give out any ‘extra’ info to overseas, so there’s no point them doing it).

This service is free, in theory takes a maximum of 20 days (dubious), and can all be transacted by email.

If you’re thinking ahead, you can request it for yourself before you head overseas so that you’ve got something to pull out of your pocket in case the school you want to work at finds your accent creepy rather than charming.

Or, if asked to provide it, you can request that the results be sent to a third party (i.e. suspicious headmistress) so that you can’t be accused of tampering with it – the twink is obvious dude, learn to photoshop, sheesh.

Possibly the most important thing that I can clarify for you is regarding Clean Slate. This is one of the most misunderstood laws I’ve ever had to explain 41,329 times over the phone to irate ‘customers’, who didn’t get the job because they thought that wee business of murdering a 6 year old in 1982 would not be revealed to the foster care social worker.

Here is the gist: 

  • Clean Slate does not EVER wipe your record, it just affects whether or not your convictions will be revealed in a vetting check
  • Clean Slate applies automatically (i.e. you don’t have to ‘apply’ for it) UNLESS one of the exceptions is met. The general exceptions include: convictions within the last 7 years (from the court date, not offence date, in case you hid that crime in your closet a while), incarceration (including the big house and the nut house), specified offences (no, murder doesn’t ever go away), indefinite disqualification of your driving licence (you’re such a bad driver you are never allowed to do it ever again), and not meeting court conditions (you skipped out on your anger management training or flipped the bird at your fines).
  • Another exception is the type of role you’re going for: if you are going to have one-on-one direct care/contact with a vulnerable person (overnight sole-charge carer for disabled patients, foster parent – anything that looks like a parent and no one else is around) then you will fill in a Section 19 (exception to Clean Slate) form. This is why you should always read what you are signing numnuts!
  • The other major exception is (drumroll please)… if the check is for overseas employment! NZ can’t apply its laws to other states, as they can’t to us. Jurisdiction baby! So just because NZ says ‘oh you!’ and assumes you’ve turned a new leaf if you haven’t been caught for seven years, this doesn’t mean the UK gives a damn about your supposed reformation. ANY criminal record check will therefore be a Section 14 (overseas territory) exception.
  • In terms of convictions from Youth Court (under 17): if a Police check, these will show only if you have other Adult convictions that are not covered by Clean Slate. However, my understanding is that they will not show on an MOJ check, but don’t quote me on that. Contact them or get a check done for yourself if you want to be sure.

If you are not a Kiwi but spent more than 6 months in NZ, the process is exactly the same, although unlikely to turn up much unless you’re one of those tourists who came to NZ for a crime spree.

On the other hand, if you’re a Kiwi who spent more than 6 months in another country and your employer wants a check from there, this may be more difficult. With Australia (probably the most likely country at issue), the rules are different in every state (super annoying!), but generally you have to get a check from the local Police station where you lived, and it costs (*obligatory joke about thieves/convicts*). My first port of call would be to google the hell out of it, and my second step would be to explain to the employer how difficult it might be. Perhaps they will accept a reference from an employer during this period instead?

Yeah… good luck with that.

If you’ve had to get a check for somewhere other than NZ and UK, can you offer up any advice in the comments?

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