May 2020: Changes in relation to Coronavirus

As many staff are working from home and social distancing, organisations are having difficulty following the DBS ID checking guidance. This is causing delays to applications being submitted. It is usual best practice to carry out the check face-to-face, with a live video link as an alternative method. Under the normal guidance, the ID checker must be in physical possession of the original documents so they can be checked for indicators of fraud.

To ensure that the necessary DBS checks can still be carried out, the DBS ID checking guidance will be changed for a temporary period. This will allow:

  • ID documents to be viewed over video link;
  • scanned images to be used in advance of the DBS check being submitted.

The change should only be implemented for urgent cases where it is not possible to follow the normal identity checking guidelines. The applicant must present the original versions of these documents when they first attend their employment or volunteering role. See also COVID-19: Changes to DBS ID Checking Guidelines for more information.

1. Introduction

Employers need to take action in a number of different areas to ensure, to the best of their ability, the people who they employ – as paid staff, volunteers or contractors – are committed to providing good quality care and support and are not a risk to adults in receipt of care and support services, or their carers. Undertaking robust criminal records checks is part of a raft of safer recruitment measures, which are designed to try to prevent unsuitable people being employed to work with vulnerable groups. As well as recruitment processes, training, staff supervision and appraisal programmes are vital to ensuring good working practices.

2. Disclosure and Barring Service

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) helps employers make safer recruitment decisions. It is responsible for:

  • processing requests for criminal records checks;
  • deciding whether it is appropriate for a person to be placed on or removed from a barred list;
  • placing or removing people from the DBS children’s barred list and adults’ barred list for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Click here to view information about job roles – DBS: Adult Workforce.

3. Barred Lists and Duty to Refer

There are two barred lists maintained by the Disclosure and Barring Service in relation to those who are:

  • barred from working with children;
  • barred with working with adults.

A person who is barred from working with children or adults will be committing a criminal offence if they work, volunteer or try to work or volunteer with the group from which they have been barred.

An organisation which knowingly employs someone who is barred to work with that particular group will also be committing a criminal offence.

An organisation is legally obliged to inform the Disclosure and Barring Service if a member of staff or a volunteer is dismissed because they have harmed a child or adult, or would have been dismissed if they had not resigned or otherwise left.

4. Criminal Records Checks

Click here to view DBS Eligibility Guidance

The role of the DBS is to assist employers to make safer recruitment decisions in relation to paid staff, volunteers or contractors. Through undertaking criminal records checks it identifies candidates who may be unsuitable.

4.1 Types of Disclosures

  • Standard: this checks for spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings.
  • Enhanced: This includes the same as the standard check plus any additional information held by local police that’s reasonably considered relevant to the workforce being applied for (adult, child or ‘other’ workforce). ‘Other’ workforce means those who don’t work with children or adults specifically, but potentially both, for example taxi drivers. In this case, the police will only release information that’s relevant to the post being applied for.
  • Enhanced with list checks: this is like the enhanced check, but includes a check of the DBS barred lists.

4.2 Update Service

The DBS also provides an online Update Service, to which people can subscribe. This enables them to keep their criminal record certificate up to date, so it can be taken with them from role to role, as long as they remain within the same workforce. Employers can undertake instant, online checks of a person’s status, as long as they have registered with the update service. A new DBS check will only be required if the Update Service check indicates there has been a change in the person’s status, due to new information added.

4.3 Cautions and convictions

Before an organisation considers asking a person to apply for a criminal record check through the Disclosure and Barring Service, they are legally responsible for ensuring that they are entitled to submit an application for the job role (see A Guide to Eligibility for Criminal Records Checks as above).
Please note that since 29 May 2013, certain old and minor cautions and convictions are no longer subject to disclosure; see Disclosure and Barring Service Filtering Guide.

4. Regulated Activity with Adults

Regulated activity is work which involves close and unsupervised contact with adults, and which cannot be undertaken by a person who is on the Disclosure and Barring Service’s Barred List for adults.

There are six categories of people who will fall within the definition of regulated activity (including anyone who provides day to day management or supervision of those people):

  1. Providing health care;
  2. Providing personal care (for example providing / training / instructing / or offering advice or guidance on physical assistance with eating or drinking, going to the toilet, washing or bathing, dressing, oral care or care of the skin, hair or nails because of an adult’s age, illness or disability; or prompting and supervising an adult to undertake such activities where necessary because of their age, illness or disability);
  3. Providing social work;
  4. Providing assistance with cash, bills and / or shopping;
  5. Providing assistance in the conduct of a person’s own affairs, for example by virtue of an enduring power of attorney;
  6. Conveying/transporting an adult (because of their age, illness or disability) either to or from their place of residence and a place where they have received, or will be receiving, health care, personal care or social care; or between places where they have received or will be receiving health care, personal care or social care. This will not include family and friends or taxi drivers.

There is a duty on a ‘regulated activity provider’ to ascertain whether a person is barred before permitting that person to engage in Regulated Activity.

It is a criminal offence for a barred individual to take part in regulated activity, or for an employer/voluntary organisation knowingly to employ a barred person in a regulated activity role.