How can you check your candidates are squeaky clean if you can’t ask them to supply their criminal record data?

October 01, 2019 by Mark Dunn

candidate vetting infographicIn the past, recruiters have been able to make it a condition of employment or contract award that an individual must make a subject access to the police for criminal record data and produce the resulting information. However, a new provision of the Data Protection Act 1998 has made it a criminal offence for employers to ask employees or candidates to apply for 'enforced subject access requests'. This means that, from 10 March 2015, recruiters can no longer obtain extensive information regarding the criminal records of employees, job applicants or contractors.

Try Nexis Diligence for free!

Nexis Diligence™ brings together news, company financial data, legal information and critical sanctions, watchlists and PEPs data all in one place.

Request your free trial today

As a result, businesses and recruitment firms must change their vetting process. An increasing number are choosing to conduct enhanced due diligence in their recruitment process on candidates being offered new roles, and sometimes even all applicants. A thorough due diligence process will help businesses see the full picture of their prospective clients and employees without committing a criminal offence. Such transparency into candidates is important anyway, but vital in heavily regulated industries such as the financial and insurance sectors. Although screening cannot guarantee what might happen in the future, it does offer a thorough insight into the past of any candidate. This provides the employer with a greater quality of applicants and reinforces confidence in the final employment decision.

What kind of information exists to help recruiters understand a prospective employee's background?

infographic thumbnailView our infographic for a quick glance at the do's and don'ts of successful candidate vetting.

Not all checks are necessarily relevant for every candidate or every role. But with potential risks of reputational damage, they should be considered an integral part of the overall background checking process for businesses in protected sectors such as finance and insurance, or for those who are recruiting for senior managerial roles.

Adverse media checks

Adverse media or negative news is unfavourable information that can be found in a variety of reference sources. The risks associated with conducting business with persons or companies having an adverse media profile are many and varied.

An adverse media check can quickly search through an array of media sources for any instances that may have brought the candidate to the public attention. It can uncover new information as well as validating and reinforcing what you already know, giving you the confidence you need to make accurate, informed decisions when recruiting.

Adverse media checks have been known to uncover articles linking candidates to crime, terrorism or scandal. These links could easily damage a hiring company's reputation, especially if within a regulated sector.

Adverse media check searches can return links and stories across web pages, established international, national and local newspapers. Social media also plays a regular part in any checking process as coverage can reveal an individual's involvement in dubious activities.


The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) defines a Politically Exposed Person (PEP) as an individual who is or has been "entrusted with prominent public functions in a foreign country" such as a senior executive of a state-owned corporation; or an important political party official. PEPs can present higher risks for potential involvement with bribery and corruption due to the influence that they hold. Increased regulation in the financial sector has made PEP searches more important in the recruitment process.

Sanctions & Watch Lists

Recruiters should undertake a Sanctions check on any candidate who could impact the financial integrity of an organisation. Sanctions checking enables organisations to fulfil compliance and anti-money laundering (AML) obligations by checking sanctions and watch lists issued by governments, financial market regulators and law enforcement bodies from across the globe. The databases identify sanctioned, restricted, prohibited and high-risk individuals such as known money launderers, fraudsters, politically exposed persons (PEPs) and terrorists.

So while recruiters can no longer request Enforced Subject Access, steps can be taken to help thoroughly check an individual's background to provide confidence in candidate placement and keep clients happy.

Related blogs

ps 3 ways you can apply this information right now to better understand your candidates

  1. Due diligence on candidates can help to mitigate your risks. If you are looking to know who you are really talking to, click here to find out how our solutions can help.
  2. Share this article on LinkedIn. Share our content with your existing contacts and groups to create debate.
  3. Leave a comment below. Let's start a conversation!

Try Nexis Diligence for free!

Nexis Diligence™ brings together news, company financial data, legal information and critical sanctions, watchlists and PEPs data all in one place.

Request your free trial today