How A Barring Decision Is Made


The DBS aim to consistently make fair and thorough barring decisions which are an appropriate response to the severity of the harm that has or may occur.

The DBS also take into consideration the affect that barring or not barring an individual may have on all parties involved. The decision-making process for non-automatic barring has been developed and refined to ensure all decisions made by the DBS are fair and consistent.

Their process has five main stages and at each of these stages a decision must be made whether to progress onto the following stage. If the criteria is not met to move onto the next stage, the case is closed and no further action is taken.

The DBS do however, store this information for their records subject to their Data Retention Policy in case future referrals are made. 

Barring Decision Process:

Stage 1: Initial Case Assessment

The DBS determine whether the case is within their legal remit under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2016.

  • For example, is there evidence of harm posed to a child or vulnerable adult?
  • Has the individual worked in regulated activity or is this a possibility for the future

If these questions are answered ‘yes’ then the case will progress to the next stage.

Stage 2: Information gathering to establish risk of harm

The DBS collect relevant information from regulated activity providers, the police, personnel providers and regulatory bodies regarding the case and this is then considered and analysed.

The DBS have no investigatory powers so this information must come from the relevant organisations that the individual may have been referred from. The DBS treat cautions, convictions and findings of specified competent bodies as facts during their decision making process.

The types of information the DBS usually receive in support of a referral from an employer include:

  • Minutes from disciplinary hearing
  • Witness statements
  • Dismissal letter
  • Adult’s/Children’s social care records in relation to any safeguarding investigation
  • Details of emergency services involvement

After all this information has been gathered and analysed the DBS will then decide if a risk of harm has been established. It will then be considered whether or not it is appropriate to move onto the next stage.

Stage 3: Structured judgement process

The structured judgement process (SJP) is an internal risk assessment tool that may be used depending on the case, to determine whether there is a future risk of harm to the vulnerable groups.

The SJP risk assessment isn’t always required, for example in financial harm cases or cases in which the assessment would not assist the outcome of the case because of a lack of information etc.

If after the assessment there is a risk of harm to children or vulnerable adults and barring is shown to be an appropriate outcome to the risk, the DBS will be ‘minded to bar’ the individual. The case will then proceed to stage four. If after this stage there is no risk of harm identified, in most circumstances it with then be closed.

Stage 4: Representations

The individual will be notified by the DBS at this stage that they have been ‘minded to bar’ they will then have the opportunity to make representations as to why they should avoid barring.

In this notification the DBS will alert the individual to the legal powers that have been used and their reasons for this decision. All information that was used to make the ‘minded to bar’ decision will be sent to the person.

The individual has eight weeks to provide the DBS with their representations, they are allowed to be assisted with their representations through the use of a friend, advisor or solicitor etc.

The DBS may also consider it necessary to hear the individual’s representations orally if it is in the interest of fairness and equality such as a disability, all cases received by the DBS are considered based on their individual circumstances.

Stage 5: Barring Decision

An individual may be barred from working with the vulnerable groups if they fail to provide representations within the eight week period and the DBS feel this is the appropriate method.

However, where representations are received the case will be thoroughly assessed and a final decision is made. The individual will receive written notification of the outcome to their case. If the decision has been to bar the person, they will receive information on their rights to appeal.  

See our infographic on how the DBS make a barring decision here!