Carrying out Risk Assessments | Criminal Record Advice | Nacro
image of a criminal record support worker helping with paperwork

Carrying out risk assessments

Before you carry out your risk assessment, it is important that you have gathered as much information as possible to inform your assessment. Sources may include (but are not limited to) answers given during application and interview, self-declarations, disclosure certificates, disclosure statements, value-based interviewing, references and independent statements from support workers.

You should also give the applicant the opportunity to address any concerns that you may have or discrepancies. This is best done in the form of a face-to-face meeting with the applicant. It is important that you make it clear to the applicant that the purpose of the meeting is to discuss any relevant information that can inform your risk assessment. Making your reasons clear is more likely to instill confidence in the applicant that their disclosure will not necessarily count against them and will encourage them to be more open with you. Try to conduct any such meeting with sensitivity and empathy, as discussing past convictions may be a great source of anxiety and embarrassment for the person concerned.

Think carefully about the questions you plan to ask and keep the discussion focused on the individual and their feelings and attitudes. It is best not to conduct the meeting alone; if possible, invite a colleague who was involved in the recruitment process to provide support and take notes. It is also important to remember it is not your responsibility to decide whether the court’s decision or police course of action was the right or fair one. The purpose of the interview is to help you to gather the necessary information to assess whether the individual may pose a risk in the position applied for.

Once you have gathered all the relevant information, you should carry out your risk assessment and ensure that, where any risks are identified, you assess whether any appropriate safeguards can be put in place to minimise these risks. The assessment should be a documented decision-making process that is signed by those who have undertaken the assessment. If the applicant is successful in post, the risk assessment should be securely stored on their personnel file and reviewed as appropriate.

Yes. Please contact Nacro’s Employer Advice Service on 0845 600 3194 or

Your duty is to ensure that you assess and manage any risks identified in your risk assessment processes. Information about an applicant’s criminal record should not be disclosed to anyone in the organisation apart from those who have a genuine need to know. This may include people directly responsible for the decision about recruitment or the applicant’s line manager, but only if the offence is relevant to the applicant’s role and only where the line manager, for example, may be responsible for implementing any safeguards deemed necessary and appropriate to manage any identified risks.

The applicant should also be told who in the organisation knows about their record, as they need to feel confident that their personal and sensitive information will not be disclosed to anyone unless there is a specific reason for doing so.

If you have carried out a risk assessment for an applicant, but not proceeded with recruitment, keep the risk assessment for the period of time the individual has to raise a dispute, appeal the decision or lodge an employment tribunal claim if they feel the decision was discriminatory.

If you have proceeded with recruitment, keep the risk assessment for as long as necessary. A risk assessment is a live document and should be kept under review until:

  • Any identified safeguards are no longer necessary or
  • The information taken into account is no longer valid (e.g. because a conviction has become spent, or filtered from the DBS certificate)

If you are subject to inspection by a regulating body, such as the Care Quality Commission (CQC) or Ofsted, or if you are subject to safeguarding audits, you should keep the risk assessment for the purpose of such inspections or audits.

Play video

Nacro provides training to employers on hiring and criminal records

Legal officer Chris Proctor talks about the training Nacro provides to employers to give them a comprehensive knowledge of safer recruitment polices and practices, carrying out risk assessments, and managing criminal record disclosures.

Find out more and book for our latest training

Thank you for your excellent advice on how to recruit safely. Now I have realised the suspension of our employee was totally avoidable . What we should have done at the very beginning is a proper risk assessment . I will certainly be incorporating this into our HR recruitment procedures so that this mistake never happens again.
National employer
Criminal recrod support service staff member on Nacro helpline

You can contact us on 0300 123 1999

Monday – Thursday: 9am – 5pm
Friday: 1pm – 5pm

Our advisors can help you with any questions you may have.