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Getting Started with DBS Checks

What is a DBS Check?   

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) evolved out of the old Criminal Record Bureau (CRB). Simply put, a DBS Check is a search of someone’s criminal record.  

The DBS work together with police to carry out record searches. They also maintain the Child & Adult Barring Lists. They use this information to produce certificates that help you make safer recruitment decisions.  

3 types of DBS Check can be carried out, Basic, Standard, and Enhanced.  

Basic Checks show any ‘unspent’ convictions on someone’s record. They can be carried out by anyone and this can be for employment, or even just for personal interest.  

The Standard and Enhanced Disclosures are a bit different. They can only be carried out by employers, for the purpose of making a recruitment or suitability decision.   

This could be due to compliance with a regulative body, such as the CQC, or because that person will be engaging in regulated activity. Whatever it is, that person would need to be eligible.  

  

Who’s eligible?  

Eligibility is complicated. Not only should you check that you're legally entitled to request a check, but you also need to determine what type you need.   

Consider the following job roles: A private practice paediatrician working out of a home office and a cardiologist applying to work in a hospital. Do they need the same check?  

The answer is yes, and no.  

Some aspects are easy to work out. If you guessed they’re both eligible for the Enhanced disclosure, you’d be right. Job roles providing direct medical care normally require the Enhanced DBS Check.  

However, you need to ensure the checks you're doing relate specifically to an employees role. We’ve determined already that both would both be eligible for the Enhanced check. But you also need to consider the Workforce and Barred Lists.  

The paediatrician would need an Enhanced DBS Check carried out against the Child Workforce and Child’s barred list. The cardiologist would need an Enhanced DBS carried out against the Child and Adult Workforce and both barred lists.  

We can sum up the major difference very simply.   

The paediatrician is only dealing with children, so the check needs to ensure they don’t appear on the child’s barred lists. On the other hand, the cardiologist could carry out surgery on a broad range of patients with variable ages. Employers would need to know barring information for both demographics.  

The above example is only intended to illustrate eligibility and help you wrap your head around the basics. A full discussion of eligibility is way, way out of the scope of this guide. We haven’t even mentioned the ‘Other Workforce’.  

But don’t worry, all the info from the DBS is publicly available for download. If you’re unsure, our best advice for eligibility is to contact us first. All too often companies pay for checks they can’t legally apply for.  

  

Who is the recruitment or suitability decision maker?  

Before you carry out any checks you need to determine who this is. If you’re reading this because you need to get DBS Checks, the likelihood is this person is you.  

Ultimately, this is the person who needs to see a DBS certificate once it’s issued. This would be the person best placed to review any information on a certificate and make a recruitment or suitability decision accordingly.   

Many times this is the director of a company. This is particularly true of SME or organisations recruiting for senior staff. But this could be a hiring manager recruiting junior level positions or even a Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) carrying out renewal checks to ensure compliance.  

The key is relevance.  

For example, someone from the hospital accounts team would have no legitimate reason for seeing the DBS certificate of our cardiologist. Whereas, the consultant surgeon running the cardiology department would be a much better choice.   

It is a criminal offence to share DBS certificate information with anyone who isn’t entitled to see it.  

Organisations aren’t limited to one decision maker. In many cases, it is typical for team or department heads to look after this process for the team(s) that they manage.  

But what happens if you’re the only person in the business? Or you’re a freelancer? Well, things get a little more complicated.   

If this applies to you, click here for a guide just for you! 

  

How should I record my DBS data?  

Firstly, you need to ensure that you have read and understood the DBS code of practice. When you first sign up with Personnel Checks, you will be sent a copy of this along with our terms and conditions to sign.  

Any organisation that handles DBS data have to adhere to this code of practice. Handling and storing DBS data correctly is of the utmost importance to any organisation needing these checks.  

Secondly, you need to ensure you have a written policy on the correct handling and safekeeping of DBS certificate information.  

Certificate information should be kept “securely, in lockable, non-portable, storage containers”. Access to this information should be limited to those with a legitimate interest to see it as part of their duties. This can be a physical or digital container, as long as the stated requirements are met.  

The guidelines state that certificate information should be kept separate from an employees ordinary personnel file. This is to aid the protection of this data and any individuals this data relates to.  

  

What to do when information is found?  

Communication is key in this situation. This is something that any organisation carrying out checks needs to anticipate.  

A freely accessible, written policy about the suitability and employment of ex-offenders should be in place before any checks are carried out. This policy should also demonstrate the relevance of having a check carried out for any roles that require it.  

Organisations are only entitled to ask about relevant offences that may impact that candidate's performance in a role. The DBS advise an ‘open and measured’ discussion of any offences that might be relevant.   

The key documents to read about how to engage in a non-discriminatory dialogue with someone with convictions are the Updated Guidance on the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and the DBS’s Sample policy on the recruitment of ex-offenders.  

You cannot refuse employment based upon a protected, spent, or irrelevant conviction. This is, in turn, a criminal offence  

  

That’s it! Those are the foundations needed for a successful and compliant DBS process. If you’d like to discuss any of the topics further, give us a call on 01254 355688. Our experts are more than happy to help guide you through any aspect of the screening process. 

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