Violent criminals and drug users apply to work in Sunderland schools

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VIOLENT thugs, benefit fraudsters, drink drivers, drug users and a witness who lied under oath.

These are just some of the people who have applied to teach your children.

Today the Echo reveals the long list of convictions held by people applying to work with children in Sunderland’s schools.

The criminal offences were discovered when the past of applicants was scrutinised by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB).

A Freedom of Information Act request found that 72 applications made in the city in the last two years were flagged up by the checking process, which unearthed 180 previous convictions.

This included possession of cocaine, 25 incidents of drink-driving, 12 cases of shoplifting and one assault on a constable.

There was also someone convicted of committing perjury as a witness and an applicant who had made false statements to obtain benefits.

The information also accounted for people bidding for teaching assistant roles.

However, the CRB was unable to confirm whether or not anyone with convictions was employed even after the information was released.

This is because recruitment processes are carried out by each school.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, the largest teachers’ union, said: “These figures demonstrate that the CRB check is an effective method for picking up cases of applicants with serious convictions.

“CRB checks are carried out on entry to teacher training courses, as well as before employment.

“As well as conviction information, the check will disclose any other non-proven reported concerns. In addition, employers must refer to the Independent Safeguarding Authority any cases in which teachers leave a post when there are outstanding concerns of a risk to children and young people, which would otherwise have been pursued.”

Sue Stanhope, director of human resources at Sunderland Council, said: “Convictions disclosed by any prospective employee are dealt with in according to guidance from the Home Office and the Independent Safeguarding Authority/CRB.

“There are certain convictions or previous disciplinary sanctions that lead to a person being barred to work with children.

“In relation to other convictions, the person is interviewed by the given school headteacher and an experienced HR Adviser, and legal advice is sought if necessary.

“This is essentially a risk assessment to ascertain if the applicant is suitable to work with children.

“Having an offence or caution on their record does not automatically bar them form being employed to work with children.”

Twitter: @tomwhite7

Examples of crimes:

Assaulting a constable

Causing harm to a protected animal

Drink driving

Failing to stop after an accident

Making false statements to obtain benefits

Leaving without paying

Possession class A drug cocaine and Class B amphetamine, Class B cannabis

Wounding

ABH

Battery

Drunk and disorderly

Breach of curfew, community rehab order

Criminal damage

Driving whilst disqualified

Failing to surrender to custody

Committing perjury as a witness

Handling stolen goods

Theft from motor vehicle

Driving while uninsured