Editorial Comment: Povafirst no substitute for enhanced Criminal Records Bureau checks

The Department of Health’s Pova list is a register of people banned from working with adults and numbers some 2,211 names.

In July 2004, the Povafirst service was introduced which enables employers to check potential staff against the list in advance of full disclosure. It takes just 72 hours and, if clear, the new recruit can start work under supervision. But, it’s not as thorough as the enhanced Criminal Records Bureau check and was only ever intended to be used in exceptional circumstances.

This week, Community Care reveals that between November 2004 and December 2006 the Povafirst service processed 441,992 applications.

This goes some way beyond the criteria of “very exceptional circumstances” and there’s clearly a risk that unsuitable people could be working with vulnerable adults while the employer awaits the results of the enhanced check. It can still take weeks to receive them.

We need to get back to the original aims for this system – the fast and effective delivery of enhanced checks. If that’s delivered it negates much of the need for the Povafirst service. But, it’s also symptomatic of a wider problem – that it’s acceptable for providers to desperately recruit at the eleventh hour for what are sensitive, important jobs. Our adult service users deserve better workforce planning and development.

Related article
Employers rush staff vetting as adult care workforce crisis bites

This article appeared in the 15 March issue under the headline “Beware of cut corners”


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