When should we DBS check?

By John Turner

Many employers and other organisations in England and Wales need to carry out criminal records checks with the government’s Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) when they are recruiting new employees or volunteers. This is particularly important when employees and volunteers may be working directly with children and vulnerable adults in the care and voluntary sector.

Charities, social enterprises, social-housing organisations and care providers often choose to interpret the law as broadly as possible when deciding whether to require a DBS check. They take the not unreasonable view that ‘it is better to be safe than sorry’ when making checks and it can also seem fair to treat all employees and volunteers equally. They also consider that everyone wants to be satisfied that they took all relevant criminal convictions and other police and barring information into account, before making an offer of employment or making a voluntary appointment.

This approach is not necessarily good practice and at worst it may be illegal. It is therefore important to understand the latest DBS eligibility guidance, published in October 2013. The guidance is not particularly detailed and it is hoped that further guidance may be issued soon…

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