January



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January 31, 2020
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2019 was a great year for Verifile and we’ve no intention of slowing down

It’s fair to say that 2019 was an incredible year for Verifile and we’ve certainly proven ourselves to be a cut above the rest.

With awards, new accreditations, a new website and brand, a milestone birthday and lots of money raised for charity, we’ve certainly been busy.

But what were the highlights? We thought we’d take some time out to look at what happened over the last 12 months, and what it means for Verifile and our clients.

It’s all about accurate data and meaningful relationships

2019 saw strong growth for Verifile. We almost doubled the number of people we checked, with an increase of 88%. We also welcomed 329 new clients and checked people across 154 countries.

Our referencing and background teams continue to prove their meticulous attention to detail, delivering some interesting results on the checks carried out. All of which mean Verifile clients have the transparency needed to make informed decisions.

They found:
  • 60% of people lied on their CV (60.8%)
  • Almost 3 in 5 people had a major discrepancy on their CV, these included:
    • fake degrees
    • never working where they claimed to
    • dates and position vastly different
  • These major discrepancies were found in:
    • 13% of qualifications
    • 13% of employments
    • 15% of memberships and licences
These findings can be attributed to the quality of our data curated by our research teams, who also helped us see only 4.3% of the qualifications, employments and membership checks returning no-result, meaning the information given by a candidate cannot be verified.
 
While we strive to make this figure as small as possible, it can never be 0% because there will always be companies or schools that have closed, or records that are unavailable. However, we continue to reduce it year on year and it has dropped by 7% from 2018 (from 4.7%).
 
Our technology evolved too with us investing heavily in creating our own Application Programming Interface (API), which is proving increasingly popular and now manages a third of our checks.
 
Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) connecting to Verifile via our API include: eArcu, Workday, Avature, Tribepad, Harbour and 10degrees.
 
Upgrades also saw the number of ‘quick checks’ we processed rise, with 60% of our checks now delivering near instant results.
 
We also added more of our products to our growing list of ‘quick checks’ including, Fraud & Sanctions  and Passport Validation. These now take seconds rather than days to return a result, and we have plans to add even more for 2020.
 
45 new team members joined us in 2019 too including Kevin Harris, Group Finance Director, and Craig Bryce, Customer Service Manager.
 
We also invested in the Account Management team to enhance and increase the personal support we offer to our clients.
 

Awards

Queen’s Award for Enterprise

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Our biggest achievement in 2019 was receiving a Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade, the first background screening company to receive such recognition.

The Queen’s Award for Enterprise is the UK’s most prestigious business award, recognising and celebrating business excellence across the country.

While the announcement that we were being recognised came in May, we were officially presented the award in July.

HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Helen Nellis, came to our offices, met with Verifile staff and handed over the award to our CEO and founder, Eyal Ben Cohen.

Speaking at the time, Eyal said: “I’m delighted that all the hard work put in by the team to grow the international part of our business has been recognised.”

Read more: Presentation of Queen’s Award for Enterprise by HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Helen Nellis
 
SME Awards

Also, in May, we were the proud winners of two SME Bedfordshire & Luton Awards. Best Enterprising Business and Bedford Business of the Year.

Winning Best Enterprising Business locally meant we secured a place in the SME National Awards.

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This ceremony wasn’t until December, so we had a nervous wait to see if we’d won… and we did.

While being a finalist amongst other well-respected businesses was high praise indeed, to be the gold place winner as SME National Business of the Year – Best Enterprising Business was a fantastic moment.

The judges commented: “Verifile is a company that will be needed more and more” and that “This business has shown enterprise in many aspects including client services, ethical suppliers and employee wellbeing.”

Read more: Verifile wins SME National Business Award
 
Investors in People Awards

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In September, we were told we had reached the final of the Investors in People (IIP) awards in the “Outstanding Use of Technology” category.

Technology is crucial to us, helping keep us transparent, accurate and consistent in everything we do for our clients.

So, being recognised for our use of technology by IIP, who set the benchmark for best practice and continuous improvement in HR and people management, is something we’re incredibly proud of.

In shortlisting us for this award, IIP gave recognition both to the importance of technology to our business and our clients, but also the changes and innovations we’ve been able to deliver.

Sadly, we didn’t win the award, but to have been shortlisted amongst seven other incredible organisations, from a variety of sectors, was a very proud moment.
 
Read more: Verifile finalists for prestigious technology award

API World top 300

While we missed out on the top spot for technology with the IIP awards, Verifile’s own API did receive some direct recognition in November.

API World included our API in their Top 300 Global API list, which showcases the top innovations in the API industry over the previous year.

30% of Verifile’s orders come through our API, which offers access to over 650 different background checks worldwide.

Being included in the top 300 is fantastic recognition and places our API amongst big tech names such as Cisco, eBay, and IBM.

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Read more: Verifile are listed in The API top 300
 

Accreditations

Investors in People

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While the Investors in People (IIP) recognised us in their business awards, they also formally accredited us as an employer.

While we take great pride in looking after our clients, we also look after the people here at Verifile, and this was confirmed in September when we were accredited with an IIP ‘Silver award'.

This is the highest level achievable in the first year of accreditation and shows that we are a great employer.

Read more: See the latest career opportunities at Verifile

IIP aims to improve the way businesses look after their people and is the UK’s leading accreditation for business improvement.

While the accreditation is a seal of approval that Verifile is a great place to work, we won’t be resting on our laurels.

We will be seeking to achieve a higher accreditation level in our next assessment, by continuing to enhance the performance of our organisation and people management practices.

Read more: We are delighted to announce our Investors in People 'Silver' award
 
Business Continuity

As we approached the end of the year, we continued to prove our relentless commitment to achieving and attaining the highest industry standards, securing our fourth ISO certification.

In December it was confirmed that we could add ISO 22301: Business Continuity Management Systems to our accreditations.

This is in addition to Information Security (ISO 27001), Quality Management (ISO 9001), and Environmental Management (ISO 14001), which we have held since 2013.

ISO auditors looked at our business continuity procedures and disaster recovery to ascertain how we’d continue to operate, should an unexpected incident impact our location, communications systems, or staff.

Verifile’s Business Support Manager, Leanne Carmedy, said: "From top-level management to operational staff, everyone at Verifile has worked hard and contributed to making sure we remain on track to attain new certifications as well as retain those that we have already achieved.”

Read more: Verifile on track to secure fourth ISO certification

New branding, values and website

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In April, for the first time after 15 years in business, Verifile had a face lift with the launch of new branding, values and website.

As a people business we take great pride in our company ethos. We decided to formalise this in 2019 with the launch of specific values that everyone here lives and breathes.

Our values all underpin our new mantra “Accurate Data. Meaningful relationships.” and cover five key areas of the promise we make to our clients and colleagues:

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These values, individually or together, creates an understanding of what Verifile stands for and how we’re passionate about helping creating transparency within your workforce.

The website overhaul created a comprehensive online source of information about background screening.

We launched new content about the 650+ UK and worldwide checks we provide, different industries and their approach to background screening, expected turnaround times, and much more; all available at the click of a mouse.

A new blog was also added to the website, giving visitors unparalleled access to the latest news about Verifile and the worldwide background screening sector.

Candidates also benefitted with the creation of their own dedicated area.

Here all the information candidates need to know about the screening process, complete with supporting videos is easily available, as well as access to the candidate portal.
 

We took over Onfido’s checks

At the end of 2018, ID Verification company Onfido announced it would no longer carry out criminal, credit, negative media and driving licence checks for clients.

Instead they recommended Verifile to its customers for these services.

At the start of 2019 we seamlessly helped over 100 of their clients to start using our services and continued carrying out background screening checks on their behalf.

Read more: Bidding farewell to offering criminal checks

G-cloud acceptance

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In July we received a massive boost to our background screening efforts in the public sector after being accepted onto the UK Government G-Cloud Framework.

G-Cloud is an initiative targeted at easing procurement by UK public-sector bodies.

By becoming a G-Cloud supplier, any Government organisation including defence, NHS, education, local councils, and others, can start using our services without the need to run a full tender or competition procurement process.

Read more: Verifile awarded a place on the G-Cloud 11 framework

Happy birthday to us

In May, we celebrated our 15th birthday.

A lot has changed in those 15 years, both within Verifile and the business environment we operate in.
Read more: Where it all began

Social media and the mobile internet were barely in existence. Now we couldn’t imagine a world without them.
The surge in technology, and significant changes in the way people communicate, has seen a rise of self-employment, and pushed the modern workforce to become much more flexible.

This also led to legislation, like GDPR, which has been created to protect personal data, presenting its own set of challenges for businesses of all sizes.

Throughout the last 15 years, Verifile has consistently adapted to exploit the opportunities advances in technology have created, while also guiding our clients to overcome any hurdles to their background screening needs.

Read more: Verifile turns 15 
 

Charity

Finally, 2019 wasn’t just about us, we also partnered with Cancer Research UK as our charity of the year.

Verifile teams raised £1,500 for pioneering research into cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment. An additional £300 was also raised for BBC’s Children in Need and Save the Children.

This much needed cash was raised through several activities organised by Verifile’s social committee. These included a summer staff festival, fancy dress days, bake sales and sweepstakes.

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Read more: Verifile staff smash fundraising target 

2020 vision

All in all, 2019 has been an incredible year, but we won’t be slowing down in 2020 as we seek to create our next five-year-plan for the business.

As well as expanding our teams, we’re also working hard on various product updates to develop new services and enhance current checks so we are more efficient and effective for our clients.

Speaking about the next 12 months and beyond, our CEO and founder, Eyal Ben Cohen said: “As a growth company, we don’t often have the time to sit back and reflect on what we have achieved.

“However, moving from one year to the next, gives us a perfect chance to evaluate our successes and how they’ll impact our future.

“Our goals for the next five years won’t just be led by our board of directors. We will be seeking views from all teams across the business and from our customers.

“It is they who spend the most time with all our clients and their candidates, listening to feedback about what works and what may need refinement.

“Our next five years will be built on that feedback so we will not only provide exactly what our clients expect, but also predict what they will need as employment practises and legislations change.

“This is what makes Verifile a leader in the background screening sector and we’ll be able to celebrate our future success together.”

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January 24, 2020
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Oxford NHS hospital IT boss who lied about degree sentenced

A former NHS boss who lied about having a degree has been given a suspended prison sentence.

As reported by the BBC, Peter Knight, 53, of Blagrove Road, Teddington, worked at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust from August 2016 until September 2018.

He pleaded guilty to fraud and was handed two years in jail, suspended for two years, at Oxford Crown Court.

The court heard how Knight, who was paid a £130,000 a year salary, claimed he had a Classics degree on his CV.

The former chief information and digital officer was exposed after an anonymous tip off in May 2018 and later resigned after the trust began an investigation.

In a press release issued on his appointment in 2016, the trust said Knight had been employed to "shape its ambition to become one of the foremost healthcare organisations in the UK and globally".

It said Knight was responsible for "developing and delivering a comprehensive information technology strategy".

Chief executive Dr Bruno Holthof said in the release that Knight brought a "wealth of experience and expertise" to the role.

In a statement following the sentencing the trust said Knight's role was "non-clinical and he had no direct contact with patients".

It added: "The trust has subsequently strengthened its recruitment process to ensure that it is not possible to avoid confirming the academic qualifications of applicants prior to appointment.

"The trust also verifies key qualifications with the university, professional body or other institution which awarded the qualification."

A proceeds of crime hearing into his gains of more £250,000 will be heard in May.

Knight had previously been a deputy director at the Department for Health and Social Care before he arrived in Oxford.

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January 17, 2020
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Lewisham and Greenwich Trust scrutinised over sharing patients' data with Experian

A decision by Lewisham and Greenwich Trust to hand over patients’ personal data to a credit reference firm was slammed by committee members in Lewisham on January 15.

Before the activity was exposed by the Health Service Journal, the trust had been using Experian to run UK checks for patients’ credit footprints to see if they were eligible for free treatment. According to a report by the BBC's Local Democracy Reporter attached to Newsshopper.

The NHS provides free healthcare to anyone who is a legal resident of the UK but is required by law to charge migrants or “patients who are not ordinarily residents in the UK” since a coalition decision in 2015 to tackle ‘health tourism’. 

If no digital footprint was found the trust would do further checks and in certain cases go onto to issue charges. 

The information shared with Experian included a person’s name, address, date of birth, NHS number, email and phone number, and was run on every patient referred to the trust.  

But people were unaware their data was being shared with the third party, sparking a backlash that has led to the trust setting up an independent enquiry and cutting ties with Experian.  

In a statement, the trust stressed that: “Experian do not carry out credit checks on Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust’s patients.  

“No credit footprint is left on anyone’s credit report as a result of this process.” 

Although the trust had a notice on its website about sharing some information with non-NHS organisations, the issue the enquiry will investigate is whether patients were adequately notified about it.  

The external review will look at all data sharing processes that are in place at the trust.  

Jim Lusby, director of integrated care and development at Lewisham and Greenwich Trust, spoke to the healthier communities select committee about the steps that had been taken in the wake of the scandal.  

He said the reason the trust took the decision to check everyone was to do it in a “non-discriminatory” way.  

“In hindsight it was not the right choice […] in all honesty I struggle to defend the logic of this,” he told the committee. 

He said the trust was “complying fully” with the investigation.

But councillors refused to let the trust off lightly, with one saying what it did was akin to “spying”.  

The tension between Lewisham being a sanctuary borough and migrant charges was also raised at the meeting.  

A representative of the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign described the move to charge migrants as “nasty, horrible”. 

She told the committee: “At the heart of this issue is a real hostility towards migrants, particularly undocumented migrants who are deemed to have no right to be here but are escaping war or economic troubles. 

“As a sanctuary borough we would encourage Lewisham and Greenwich Trust to put compassion, safeguarding, clinical priorities and professional standards at the forefront rather than an unbending interpretation of the law.” 

The representative, also a nurse, stressed the blame was not on the trust, as “it’s a Government directive”, but urged it to be aware of “young, vulnerable pregnant women” who are reluctant to seek care for fear of being charged.  

A recent Government report showed that three pregnant women died as a result of delays in seeking care, despite all three being eligible for free treatment. 

“They’re scared and they don’t come back. That’s two lives at risk. 

“As a pregnant woman you can have no symptoms and be in a life-threatening situation within minutes. Not coming back for care is really dangerous,” the campaign rep told the committee.  

It also emerged debts would follow patients around even if they became legal in the country.  

Chair Councillor John Muldoon said he was “disappointed” the Chief Executive did not come to the committee meeting.  

He said: “Bearing in mind that we are a sanctuary borough we are concerned about the impact that this has on our status, our political status as a sanctuary borough.  

“The committee was concerned to learn about the automatic testing of those attending Lewisham and Greenwich Trust by using the Experian database for their economic activity. 

“The committee disputes that that is a useful metric in assessing ordinary residence and remains unconvinced that adequate notification was given to patients.  

“The committee acknowledges the independendent enquiry and urges the independent enquiry to take evidence from witnesses from all stakeholder groups. 

“I am expecting a report back, possibly by the chief executive. The committee wishes to be informed as to current practice in assessing ordinary residence.” 

The issues raised have been referred to mayor and cabinet.

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