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Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

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What is Disclosure and Barring Service?

It is important as employers and volunteer organisations that the safety of children and adults at risk (vulnerable adults) are provided protection from those who may already be identified as being a risk. The Disclosure and Barring Service is part of the tools to assist alongside other recruitment and selection practices.

The Disclosure and Barring Service came from the merger of the Criminal Records Bureau and the Independent Safeguarding Authority through the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and came into existence in December 2012.

The Disclosure and Barring Service helps employers make safer recruitment decisions in England, Wales, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, and maintains the Adults’ and Childrens’ Barrred lists including if an individual should be included on one or both of the lists barring them from engaging in regulated activity. DBS can only be applied for individuals who are 16 years old or over.

There are four levels of DBS check:

  • Basic DBS check: covers details of convictions and unspent conditional cautions under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This check can be for any purpose and individuals can apply.
  • Standard DBS check: covers spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings. This check is for roles such as security guards and can only be applied for by a recruiting organisation.
  • Enhanced DBS check: covers spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings and may also contain non-conviction information supplied by relevant police forces. This check is for roles (paid and volunteer) working with children or adults at risk (vulnerable adults), and for Trustees of charities that work with either or both of those groups.
  • Enhanced with Barred Lists DBS check: covers the same as an enhanced DBS check plus checks one or both of the barred lists.

Eligibility for types 2, 3 and 4 are laid out in legislation. If unsure there is a DBS eligibility tool as well as eligibility guidance.

DBS do not have an end date and whilst an organisation or body may chose to accept an existing DBS check, the level and date acquired and that it meets the requirements for which it is being used, for example that it covers adults or children depending on the role. To be sure that there is nothing missing then a new DBS check may be required.

There is a DBS update service and whilst there is no end date many continue to use the three year mark for reviewing that was in place under previous arrangements. The update service may reduce the need for multiple DBS certificates as information can be checked where existing checks exist, this is on online service.

A disclosure does not necessarily mean that the individual cannot engage in activity (unless they are on the barred list) but that the nature of the disclosure needs to be considered against the activity due to be undertaken and the risks deemed to great or mitigations put in place. Some contracts may stipulate that posts can only be undertaken by those with clean DBS checks.

Barring lists

There are three ways that individuals can be added to the barring list:

  • Automatic barring offence: This is when someone has been newly-convicted or cautioned for a serious offence and they are considered for immediate barring.
  • Disclosure: Where an enhanced DBS check reveals relevant information that results in the individual being considered for inclusion on one or both of the barring lists.
  • Referral: This is when an employer, volunteer manager, or other organisation has concerns that someone has either caused harm or has the potential to cause harm to vulnerable groups and submits a barring referral to DBS.  Where an organisation or body is involved in regulated activity there is a legal duty to refer.

Individuals put forward for the barring lists will have the opportunity to put forward their case for not being added except for some automatic barring offences (see DBS information for more detail).

Free monthly workshops for organisations to learn more about DBS processes and legislation. You can find out more or sign up via  DBS Disclosure and Eligibility Workshop and  DBS Barring and Legal Duty to Refer Workshop

Help and support

For victims, families and concerned people

It can be difficult to reach out for support if the abuse is by someone who is a close friend or relative, but abuse and neglect are never acceptable and there is help available to help stop it. If the abuse is being carried out by someone who provides care and support, reporting will not stop you receiving services. Your care and support needs will continue to be met as part of any safeguarding response.

Report to safeguarding in your local authority (see Directory). Report it to the police by calling 101 or report it online depending on your region of Wales – South Wales Police, Dyfed Powys Police, Gwent Police or North Wales Police. In an emergency, call 999. If you’re deaf or hard of hearing, use the Police textphone service 18000 or text on 999 if you’ve pre-registered with the emergency SMS service.