The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) was established under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and merges the functions previously carried out by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).
A DBS check provides information about a volunteer’s criminal history. It helps volunteer-involving organisations determine whether a person is a suitable candidate for the role for which they are applying and helps to prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups including children.
Who should be DBS checked?
The minimum age at which someone can apply for a DBS check is 16. You should not be carrying out a DBS check on any volunteers under the age of 16.
Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 a volunteer with a criminal record is not required to reveal past convictions unless the role they are applying for, or are currently occupying, is listed as an exception to the act. This means it is illegal to carry out a DBS check if it is not required for the volunteer role.
There are 3 types of checks which can be carried out on volunteers: Standard Checks, Enhanced Checks and Enhanced Check with Children and/or Adult Barred list check. The third check can only be carried out if the volunteer will be undertaking a 'Regulated Activity'.
What is Regulated Activity?
Regulated Activity is work a person who appears on the DBS barred lists is prohibited from doing. This includes work that involves close and unsupervised contact with vulnerable groups, including children. There are two types of Regulated Activity; Regulated Activity relating to Children and Regulated Activity relating to Adults. An enhanced DBS check should only be carried out if the volunteer will be carrying out a 'Regulated Activity'. Further advice and guidance on the nature of 'Regulated Activity', which would require an enhanced DBS check can be found by clicking on the links below:
There are also a couple of really useful flowcharts to help you to decide whether you legally need to carry out a DBS check on a potential volunteer. Please be advised that these are for your information only and decisions made should be in line with information on the DBS website as well as your own organisational policies and procedures.
What is the DBS update service?
Individuals can choose to register for the DBS update service. The service is free for volunteers. This allows people to take their DBS certificate from one job or volunteer role to another. Volunteers can give you permission to check if anything has changed on their certificate. Please bear in mind if you are using this service that any check through the update service will only cover the period of time between the last DBS check and the present. You will therefore need to see a copy of the volunteers last DBS check certificate as well as using the update service.
How much does a DBS check cost?
Standard check - £26
Enhanced check - £44
Enhanced with a barred list check - £44
Volunteers qualify for a free-of-charge DBS check as long as the applicant (i.e. the volunteer being checked) will not benefit directly from the position the DBS application is being submitted for.
For more information about how to carry out a DBS check visit the home office website.
If your organisation does not meet the registration criteria for carrying out a DBS check there are two organisations in the local area who can help you check, process and track DBS forms. Please note a small fee is attached to these services.