Social care staff are working with vulnerable adults without full Criminal Records Bureau clearance

Hundreds of thousands of social care staff are working in settings with vulnerable adults before they have been given a full Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check.

Employers are appointing individuals who have been checked against the Protection of Vulnerable Adults (POVA) list only, instead of an enhanced CRB check, to tackle high turnover and vacancy rates.

The POVA list, which is managed by the Department of Health, is a register of people banned from working with vulnerable adults. There are 2,211 people on the list.

Povafirst checks, which were introduced in July 2004 and are carried out by the CRB, are supposed to be used only in “very exceptional circumstances”.

But Personnel Today’s sister title Community Care found that, between November 2004 and December 2006, the CRB processed 441,192 applications, and experts estimate that it can take at least six weeks for a full CRB check to be processed.

During this time, people are eligible to work under the supervision of a named person. All Povafirst applications are supposed to be completed within three days.

Daniel Blake, policy and development manager at charity Action on Elder Abuse, said the figures were “extremely high” but reflected high staff turnover.

“Many managers fear they will lose their candidate if they have to wait around for a month or longer for a CRB check before they can start work. So it looks like they are circumventing the bureaucracy of the system,” he said.

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