What is DBS?

During your job search you might come across a number of positions that require a DBS check. In certain professions a valid DBS disclosure is a legislative requirement for their employment. But, what actually is DBS and how does it work?

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) was formed in 2012, merging the functions of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).

The DBS check allows employers to scruitinise the records of staff and potential employees in order to ascertain their suitability to work in areas where they may come into contact with children or vulnerable adults. In October 2009 new regulations were introduced that placed an obligation on social services, employers and professional regulators to notify the DBS of any information pertaining to individuals who, from their experience pose a threat to vulnerable groups. This information makes up a barred list of individuals who are refused permission to work with children and vulnerable adults. It then becomes a criminal offence if someone on that list applies for work in these sectors or if any organisation employs a barred individual to perform such duties.

The Disclosure and Barring Service is an executive non-departmental public body of the Home Office and exists primarily to assist employers and service providers make informed decision when looking to recruit staff. It also safeguards children and vulnerable adults against coming into contact with unsuitable people.

How does it work?

The DBS process criminal records checks and decide when or if it is appropriate for someone to be added or removed from barred lists. They are responsible for these processes for England and Wales and are based in Liverpool and Darlington. Disclosure Scotland and Access Northern Ireland operate for the other countries in the union.

There are different levels of checks available based on the necessary requirements dictated by the sector and the individuals job role. A standard check will cross reference an applicant’s criminal record against the Police National Computer for any reprimands, warnings, cautions or convictions. The cost of a standard check is £26.

An enhanced check encompasses everything contained within a standard check but also looks for information held by local police forces that may be relevant to the job applied for.

Anyone who is looking to be employed in areas involving caring for, supervising or being in sole charge of children or adults requires an enhanced DBS check. The cost for an advanced check is £44 unless applying as a volunteer. Volunteers do not have to pay an advanced DBS fee but must meet certain qualifying criteria. Any applicant who receives any part of the following cannot be considered to be a volunteer –

  • Remuneration such as a wage, salary or other monetary payment
  • A benefit of some kind, including discounted childcare costs for their own child who attends the childcare provision
  • Credit towards a qualification or working at the premises as part of a placement
    In 2013 the DBS update service was launched. For a fee of £13 per year applicants who use this optional service can potentially re-use their DBS certificate if changing jobs within the same sector, as long as the new position carries with it the same checking requirements as the previous role.