Recruitment and vetting policy

Our policy for recruiting and vetting volunteers so that we keep our members safe

Approved: May 2021
Version 2.2
Content owner: Safe practice

As an adult volunteer in any role with Girlguiding you're part of an amazing and diverse group of people

Our volunteers come from all walks of life - each of you with unique skills and experiences. Together, you make it possible for girls and young women to reach their full potential through great guiding experiences, and by always being positive role models. 

Everyone at Girlguiding shares a responsibility – to make sure our members stay safe. So Girlguiding’s volunteer recruitment policy is both welcoming to all and also in line with safer recruitment practice. 

The policy and procedures cover all adult volunteering roles in Girlguiding in the UK and British Girlguiding Overseas.

It’s about keeping our members safe, from the word go.


Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (Exceptions) Order 1975 

Because Girlguiding activities involve children and young people under 18, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (Exceptions) Order 1975 applies.

This means that anyone applying to be a Girlguiding volunteer may be asked during the enquiry process to disclose any caution or conviction they have received - even if it's spent.

A potential volunteer may also be asked to have enhanced criminal record and barred list checks, depending on the role they're applying for.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), Access NI and Disclosure Scotland

Girlguiding abides by the code of practice for DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service), Access NI and Disclosure Scotland. These are the government agencies which carry out criminal record disclosure checks.

Equality Act 2010

Under the Equality Act 2010 no one should suffer discrimination. Girlguiding is committed to this, as set out in our Equality and Diversity policy and related guidance.

  • Adult volunteers - means anyone over 18 years of age who gives their time to Girlguiding without being paid. This covers all volunteering roles within Girlguiding – including those involving working directly with members and those involving no direct contact with members. An adult volunteer may also be a member of Girlguiding which means that a subscription is paid.
  • Recognised volunteer – means an adult volunteer who is not a member, performing specific roles with Girlguiding. This includes occasional roles.
  • Adult member – means anyone over 18 years of age who is a member of Girlguiding.
  • Young member - means anyone under 18 years of age who is a member of Girlguiding.
  • Young external volunteer - anyone aged between 13 – 17 (inclusive) years who volunteers with Girlguiding, who should be part of an external volunteering scheme such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
  • Enquirer – means an individual who has registered their interest to volunteer with Girlguiding and is going through the enquiry process.
  • Commissioner - means a volunteer manager at country, region, county, division or district level.
  • Leader – means someone who holds the role of unit leader, assistant leader or leader-in-training.
  • Regulated activity – means activity that has been identified by law as eligible for the highest level of a criminal record disclosure check.
  • Breach - means not meeting our expectations as set out in our Code of Conduct, policies and procedures (which are updated from time to time).
  • GO – means the Girlguiding online membership system where membership and volunteer details are held.
  • Girlguiding - means the Guide Association (registered charity no. 306016) and all local units, countries, regions, counties, divisions and districts.
  • HQ - means the headquarters of Girlguiding.
  • Relevant Girlguiding officer or volunteer - means a member of staff of Girlguiding or a commissioner. 
  • The relevant Girlguiding HQ team - means the Girlguiding Safeguarding team for any matter involving child protection or safeguarding of children and adults. For any other matter it will mean the Compliance team.
  • Spent conviction – means the period of time specified in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 after which a conviction can be ignored.
  • Unspent conviction – means the period of time specified in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 which a conviction cannot be ignored.
  • Criminal record disclosure check – involves details of an individual’s criminal record including information from the local police force. This is provided by the relevant country’s government agency, ie. Access NI for Northern Ireland, Disclosure and Baring Service (DBS) for England and Wales, Disclosure Scotland (PVG) for Scotland and relevant overseas agencies for British Girlguiding Overseas.
  • Enhanced check – involves details of an individual’s spent and unspent convictions, cautions and any relevant information from the local police force. An enhanced check can be requested with or without a barred list check.
  • Barred list checks – covers information about whether a person is barred from working with children or adults.
  • Basic check – provides details of an individual’s unspent convictions and cautions only.

How does this policy apply?

This policy sets out recruitment and vetting requirements for being an adult volunteer. The recruitment and vetting procedures also set out the recruitment process for volunteers.

This policy applies to adults who want to join Girlguiding (known as ‘enquirers’), either as a member or recognised volunteer, existing adult members or recognised volunteers and anyone who is responsible for delivering the recruitment and induction process.

What are the main principles of this policy?

  • Anyone is welcome to enquire about volunteering with Girlguiding. No one should be made to feel unwelcome.
  • All enquirers must complete necessary vetting checks for their role/s within the time frame stated in the procedures.
  • All existing adult volunteers must complete necessary vetting checks for their role/s as set out under this policy
  • All enquirers must be given information and support to help them into a suitable role. This should make sure they have a positive and timely journey into volunteering.
  • If you are using this policy you must follow the recruitment and vetting procedures, which are reviewed and updated from time to time, so you comply with this policy.

Who should use this policy?

All enquirers and existing adult volunteers

If you are applying to volunteer with or are currently in an active role with Girlguiding you are subject to the terms set out in this policy and hold a responsibility to follow it.

Commissioners and supporting volunteers

If you are responsible for or involved in the recruitment of volunteers, you must use this policy. This includes the local commissioner and ultimately the chief commissioner for the country or region, who have overall responsibility for the recruitment of volunteers. It also includes all volunteers in a supporting role or who have been delegated the day to day responsibilities.

Girlguiding HQ

Girlguiding HQ is responsible for maintaining the membership system (GO); processing criminal record disclosure check applications; managing the results and process for risk assessment and checking references.

If you do not follow the policy and procedures this may be considered a breach and further action may be taken in accordance with the managing concerns about adult volunteers policy. An application to volunteer may be refused where this policy is not followed.

What are the recruitment and vetting requirements?

Being an adult volunteer in Girlguiding is immensely fulfilling. It also means having responsibilities and the commitment to uphold the Girlguiding Code of Conduct. So Girlguiding follows safer recruitment practices, to make sure we are providing a safe space for our members right from the start.

In order for an enquirer to be confirmed and accepted as an adult volunteer:

  • The relevant recruitment and vetting requirements for the role/s must be completed satisfactorily.
  • The commissioner (or delegated volunteer) must confirm the enquirer is suitable.
  • There must be an appropriate role for the enquirer.

Registration of adult volunteers

If you are in a commissioner position within Girlguiding, you must manage all adult volunteers in any role on GO. An enquirer will complete an enquiry form online which will start the recruitment process.


If you are recruiting or registering adult volunteers, you must make sure two satisfactory references are provided for the following;

  • All individuals, in any role, over 18 who are new to guiding
  • All individuals, in any role who are returning to Girlguiding after a break of more than 12 months and are over 18

A referee will be asked to complete a character reference in the form of a set questionnaire. This is to help Girlguiding establish whether the enquirer is suitable to the role of volunteering.

If you are registering a young member, who is registered on GO and has been active in the last 12 months, into an adult volunteering role you must ensure they produce a letter of commendation from their leader or commissioner before starting their new role.

See the Recruitment and vetting procedures for more information.

Criminal record disclosure checks

Some volunteer roles in Girlguiding are classed as regulated activity. This means they require the completion of an enhanced (with barred list) criminal record disclosure check

The relevant Girlguiding HQ team must approve as satisfactory the result of any criminal record disclosure check before an enquirer is confirmed as an adult volunteer or where it is a re-check, so the adult volunteer can continue in their role.

British Guiding Overseas

The standard and reliability of checks in countries that do not do DBS or police checks varies widely. In particular contexts the adult volunteer will have robust additional checks, for example, teaching or on a military base.

In countries where it’s possible to get a DBS check (or a police check), we will require one to be completed. HQ has an annually updated list of countries where a DBS is available.

We will need two satisfactory references in all cases.


Having a caution or conviction will not necessarily prevent someone from taking up a volunteer role with Girlguiding. The relevant HQ team will  risk-assess the situation.

Girlguiding safeguarding training

Our A Safe Space training helps volunteers create an environment where girls can be safe and have fun. Safety is at the heart of everything we do. Because we know that when girls feel safe, they feel brave enough to do things they never thought they could. Therefore, all volunteers must have the appropriate levels of A Safe Space training for their role.
Where required for their role, an enquirer must complete A Safe Space Level 1 before they will be confirmed in their role.

Enquirers who don’t complete or satisfy the recruitment and vetting requirements

Where these are not fully met we will refuse the application to join. Where an existing adult volunteer does not comply with this policy and its procedures, we will withdraw their role and/or membership.

What happens to information disclosed during the recruitment and vetting process?

Information will only be disclosed to relevant staff and volunteers undertaking the risk assessment and risk management process.

It will be treated sensitively and confidentially and only the necessary information will be shared. It will not be shared with other adult volunteers (other than commissioners) unless appropriate, and always in accordance with our Managing information policy.

Girlguiding may sometimes need to share the fact of, or the basis for, a refusal or withdrawal from a Girlguiding volunteer role. This will only be done to comply with our legal obligation to safeguarding children and adults, or if a criminal offence has been reported.

Can an enquirer challenge or appeal a decision to refuse their application or withdraw their membership/role?

An enquirer will have no right of appeal. However, if they feel that their application has been handled unjustly they may make a complaint under the complaints policy.

An existing adult volunteer has the right to request an appeal of the withdrawal of their role/membership. Please refer to Girlguiding’s managing concerns about adult volunteers policy.

If the enquirer or adult volunteer believes that the information on their certificate is incorrect, they must contact the appropriate body (DBS, Disclosure Scotland or Access NI) to challenge it.

Girlguiding will risk assess based on the information provided, unless informed by the appropriate body that the challenge has been resolved.