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Comprehensive vetting of all potential employees can save councils...
Comprehensive vetting of all potential employees can save councils

money, time and resources, Waltham Forest LBC's chief internal auditor has

advised local government colleagues.

In a report published by software supplier, SAS, Rachael Tiffen

used her experience of implementing a successful vetting system to set

out how pre-employment screening can prevent fraud

The paper describes the benefits of pre-employment checks on successful

job applicants, as well as the processes that can be followed to

establish this procedure within an organisation.

Ms Tiffen has led the internal audit at Waltham Forest since 2000 and has worked in local government since 1985.

She said: 'Organisations have to ask themselves if they want to employ

someone who is not honest with them from the outset.

'There have been a number of highly publicised cases that show the

merits of assessing the roles and responsibilities of posts and the

risks involved - and the need to vet all potential staff properly and


'At Waltham Forest, we believe vetting must be proportionate to the

risk. But it is essential that you think through the risks as they may

not be immediately apparent.'

Waltham Forest LBC implemented its comprehensive

pre-employment screening system following a pilot. The success of the

trial led councillors to set up a unit solely responsible for vetting

within the council.

Since 1995, the number of applicants vetted has grown from 75 to more

than 920 in 2004 (around 80 per month).

Of those vetted only a small proportion have failed screenings (27 in

2004), with Waltham Forest benefiting from a fall in the percentage of

applicants failing screening from 17% in 1995 to 4% in 2003.

Ms Tiffen added: 'Vetting takes place across the council, and we

still discover discrepancies. We have now taken the innovative step of

starting to vet certain contractors and even suppliers and consultants.

'Vetting has helped to establish the strong anti-fraud culture within

our organisations that is now extending beyond staff to our partners. It

is a very public commitment to driving employee fraud out of the

organisation and has sent a very clear message on the council's position

to both residents and potential employees.'

Chan Badrinath, executive director (corporate services) said: 'Waltham

Forest's approach to countering fraud by employees is proving highly

effective. Our aim is to ensure that we recruit the best people to help

us to improve the services we offer our community.

'A systematic approach to pre-employment checks means we not only avoid

recruiting unscrupulous employees, but it also actively discourages

people with fraud in mind from applying to join this council.'

The report can be found on the SAS website.

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