Recently, a St Andrew’s College staff member was accused of raping a seven-year-old child after being vetted and cleared twice in four years. This is a prime example of how criminal record checks are not the only checks you need to be doing to properly screen your staff.

“He (the accused) was vetted in 2018 during a recruitment process. We do regular vetting of people and his most recent was in 2022 when all our staff were re-vetted – and there was nothing in his record that would indicate there was anything of concern,” said St Andrews College’s headmaster, Tom Hamilton.

A lack of criminal record does not denote a lack of criminal intent. Due to our severely lacking judicial system, anyone committing a crime needs to be caught, convicted, and found guilty before they can have a criminal record. The likelihood of criminals or those with criminal intent incurring a criminal record is very low. This means, because many criminals aren’t caught, their criminal record checks will come back clear.

So, a criminal record check is not sufficient to rule out criminal intent, active or potential criminal behaviour. A low conviction rate contributes to the problem but often, the person has simply not been caught so how can you avoid hiring a criminal or opportunist who hasn’t been caught yet? How do you avoid being the company that unknowingly hired someone who is later found to be a criminal or alleged criminal? Either way, a scandal like this one could be incredibly impactful for your company and cause untold damage to your professional reputation or general business. We suggest a more comprehensive set of screening and vetting assessments.

Integrity and behavioural assessments will offer a clearer picture of the candidate in question. These assessments pick up the characteristics and personality traits of individuals, to a much deeper extent than a cursory interview. People are on their best behaviour during job interviews; thus, a job interview is not enough to ascertain the true measure of a candidate. Rigorous screening and vetting will pinpoint the deeper traits of a person, even if they were hoping to hide said traits.

Integrity and behavioural assessments offer insight into what a person is capable of and their behavioural traits that may well outline criminal intent, despite there being no criminal record to speak of. These are just some of the screening and vetting assessments that should be performed when considering a candidate, particularly for a position of risk.

If someone is going to be working with or near children or other vulnerable or high-risk individuals, screening needs to be more intensive than a criminal record check. Proper screening and vetting can often pre-empt potential threats and aid in avoiding things like making the news because you hired an alleged rapist to work around children. Had the school in question and the others who made headlines for similar reasons, properly screened, and vetted the candidate, the alleged crimes and ensuing scandal could have been avoided entirely.

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