Hundreds of job applications to work in Leeds schools have been submitted by individuals with criminal records, new figures reveal.
A freedom of information request showed that, between 2014 and 2019, 65 job applications for teaching-related roles in Leeds schools showed up a total of 172 previous criminal convictions from 65 job applications.
The figures also show 1,433 previous criminal convictions from 325 applications for non-teaching school roles over the same five year period.
Leeds City Council says that, although previous convictions don’t always mean an applicant is unsuitable for a job, it uses the DBS checks to ensure it can make correct decisions on employment to ensure it children are kept safe.
The information came from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), which makes checks into applicants’ criminal records on behalf of potential employers.
Figures for those applying for teaching-related roles show a total of 14 previous convictions for violent crimes, including assault, actual bodily harm (ABH) and grievous bodily harm (GBH).
Teacher applications also showed up 50 driving offences, 26 of which were drink-related; while the numbers also revealed six drug-related offences.
Of applications for non-teaching roles, applications showed up 136 previous convictions for violent crimes, including one application in 2014/15 by an individual with a manslaughter conviction.
It revealed a total of 257 motoring convictions including one for death by dangerous driving.
While there were no job applications for teaching roles by those with previous convictions relating to cruelty to children, a total of six were listed for non-teaching applicants: two for committing an act of cruelty to a child under 16, two for detaining a child without lawful authority, one for indecent assault on a female under 16 and one for keeping a child from a responsible person.
The DBS stressed that, although the numbers of applicants to schools with previous criminal records was in the hundreds, some applications may come from the same person applying for multiple jobs. It added that some applicants had numerous convictions, meaning the number of individual convictions was much higher than the number of applications they showed up on.
Phil Mellen, Leeds City Council’s Deputy Director for Learning said: “When recruiting teaching and non-teaching staff, all Leeds schools are advised to follow the principles outlined by the National Safer Recruitment Consortium. This ensures that proper safeguards are in place to deter, reject or identify people who may be unsuitable to work in a school setting. A DBS check at the correct level is just one part of the safer recruitment process, which also includes a barred list check, identity, qualifications, prohibition order and right to work in the UK, as well as taking up references from previous employment.
“Previous convictions may not always make an applicant unsuitable for appointment. However, where these exist schools are required to carry out thorough risk assessments in partnership with the council’s education safeguarding team and the Leeds Safeguarding Children Partnership to ensure that the health, safety and well-being of children and young people are protected.”
A statement provided by the DBS along with the results read: “The DBS works to protect vulnerable groups in society, including children. Safeguarding is at the heart of everything we do at the DBS and we play a vital role in keeping people safe.
“DBS is unable to confirm if any of the individuals were employed as a result of the information being included on a certificate as the DBS has no involvement in any recruitment decision made.
“Ultimately whatever a DBS check reveals the decision to employ someone rests with the employer, they must carry out their own assessment as to someone’s suitability to a particular role.”