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Disclosure and Barring Service Checks (DBS)

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Supporting a volunteer

Understanding DBS checks

A DBS check is a process determined by law that allows an employer, or person deploying a volunteer, to request to see their criminal record. This is only allowed because the role the person will perform for you/your organisation meets eligibility criteria as an exception to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.

A DBS check provides information about a volunteer’s criminal history at that point in time. It can help volunteer-involving organisations determine whether a person is a suitable candidate for the role for which they are applying, however the checks undertaken must be appropriate to the role.  There are different types of DBS checks available which reveal different levels of information, and it is an offence to apply for a DBS check if the role is not eligible for one.  Careful consideration should be given to whether it’s necessary to conduct a check or whether other safeguarding measures provide adequate protection.

If you’re placing a person into a role defined as regulated activity (see here – link is English only but leaflets relating to Wales are available in English and Welsh), the organisation is responsible for checking that they do not appear on the barring lists via an enhanced DBS check, and the legal duty to refer to the DBS is placed on the organisation.

DBS checks should not be used simply as a ‘just in case’ box ticking exercise. We have a range of information sheets that provide further details on how to approach DBS checks:

Other resources

Volunteer supports an older woman

DBS and Safer Recruitment

DBS and Safer Recruitment explains how to use DBS checks as part of your approach to safeguarding and safer recruitment.

DBS and Safer Recruitment

DBS Checks and Conviction history

DBS Checks and Conviction history looks at how to assess the risk of the results of a DBS check.

DBS Checks and Conviction history