Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
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Loughborough University

Human Resources

A-Z content

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

a)  The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) was set up as a result of the Police Act (1997) which looks at the employment of ex-offenders.  This was merged with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) on 1 December 2012, to become the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). The DBS holds data from the National Police Computer on people’s criminal convictions and also has access to local police records. It is designed to be a ‘one stop shop’ to enable employers to check future employees’ criminal history.

b)  Although the main focus of the DBS is to provide information to employers, there are many other organisations that will require information on criminal records.  For example, Universities need to check students applying for certain courses (eg. Teacher training, social work etc).

c)  Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (1974), certain convictions become ‘spent’ after a period of time. This means that the person no longer has to declare them when asked. However, under the Exceptions Order of this Act, certain organisations are able to ask people applying to work/study in that area to declare all convictions whether spent or unspent.

d)  The information below includes the latest amendments introduced as a result of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and describes occupations that are known as the exceptions to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This is not an exhaustive list as some roles included in the list of exceptions obtain conviction information via other means.  Some of the main areas that are covered by the Exceptions Order are as follows:

To view the full Exceptions Order list see: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/249326/DBS_guide_to_eligibility_v2.1.pdf  

e)  The Ministry of Justice has stated that organisations should not insist that a DBS check forms part of a recruitment exercise or bid when tendering for contracts, unless the services provided meet the criteria for an eligible DBS check as defined by the exceptions, as this would breach employment law.


f)    Although the above section talks mainly about employment and jobs, it is logical that students may also be affected and those applying to be a teacher for example can be checked by the DBS, not only to ensure that they are fit to be a teacher on completion of the course, but also to ensure that they are suitable to carry out any work experience while studying.

Checks carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service

The DBS conducts two types of checks:

a)    Standard DBS check: this type of check covers people who may have access to vulnerable groups including children. An example may be a note taker employed by the University to support students with a disability. Standard disclosures may also be used for people entering certain occupations that involve positions of trust such as members of the legal and accountancy profession. The Standard check contain details of an individuals convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings recorded on police central records and includes both ‘spent’ and ‘unspent’ convictions.  These are shown on a criminal records check.  To be eligible for a Standard level DRB check the position must be included in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975.

b)    Enhanced DBS check: this type of disclosure covers professions/employment that involve a greater degree of contact with vulnerable groups including children. In general this might include regularly caring for, supervising, training or being in sole charge of such people. Examples include a researcher who is required to interview children on a one to one basis or a student applying for a teacher-training course.  An Enhanced check contains the same details as a standard check, together with any information held locally by police forces that it is reasonably considered might be relevant to the post applied for.  To be eligible for an Enhanced level DRB check, the position must be included in the both the ROA Exceptions Order https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/249326/DBS_guide_to_eligibility_v2.1.pdf and in Police Act Regulations.  This information will normally be included on the disclosure, but in some circumstances this information may be sent under separate cover to the countersignatory and should not be revealed to the applicant. In addition enhanced check will provide information on lists held by the Independent Safeguarding Authority.

c)    Enhanced check for Regulated Activity: To be eligible to request a check of the Children’s or Adults’ Barred lists, the position must meet the new definition of Regulated Activity* (see further information for definition).  There are a small number of other positions for which you can also request list checks as listed in the Police Act regulations.

Disclosures from other organisations cannot be accepted. A fresh disclosure must be carried out by the University. The University will also not disclose details of Disclosures to third parties. 

Procedure for Requesting a Disclosure

a)    The process for carrying out disclosures is the same for students and for staff. This procedure must be used for everyone that will be working or studying in an area that requires a disclosure, even if they will only be required to do so for a very short term.

b)    If a student or member of staff has a break in employment or their studies of three months or more, they must complete another disclosure before they can re-commence.

c)    If, as part of their studies, it becomes apparent that a student is required to complete a disclosure (i.e. they are commencing a new research project that involves access to vulnerable groups), the Dean will take the role of recruiting manager or admissions tutor.

d)    If the existing student refuses to complete a disclosure, they should be advised that they will not be able to continue with or commence the research that requires the disclosure. Alternative arrangements will need to be made.

e)    It should be made clear before a person applies to the University either to work or to study that the University will be required to obtain a satisfactory disclosure on their behalf.  For employment purposes it should be indicated on the advert and job description. Any media used for student recruitment purposes should clearly state this requirement, e.g. student prospectus.

f)      The DBS application form has a section on it which asks the recruiting manager or the admissions tutor to confirm that they have checked the applicant’s proof of identification. Although this does not need to be completed until the offer has been made, it is wise to ask all candidates coming for an interview to bring along the necessary forms of identification. For further details see section called ‘Responsibilities for Recruiting Manager or Admissions Tutor’.

g)    It is imperative that the recruiting manager or admissions tutor follow the guidelines on confirming identification correctly. Failure to do so not only leaves the vulnerable people, the applicant will be exposed to at risk, but also the University may be exposed for failing to take the necessary precautions. 

h)    If the candidate is successful, they should be informed that the offer is subject to a satisfactory disclosure from the DBS.

i)      For employment purposes, the contract of employment should include the following statement: 'Offer is Subject to a Satisfactory DBS Disclosure check.'

j)      For student purposes, the offer letter should clearly state that the offer of a place will not be confirmed until the University has received a satisfactory disclosure from the applicant, in addition to any other requirements expressed by the University.

k)    For employment purposes, Human Resources will send out the DBS application form along with the offer of appointment. The Academic Registry will send out the application form to prospective students. Before the form is sent out, it should be clearly marked to whom the completed form should be returned. This should be the recruiting manager or the admissions tutor. Human Resources or the Academic Registry will confirm that the application form has been sent out, to enable the recruiting manager or admissions tutor to chase the returned form if it is not received within a reasonable amount of time. (For PGCE students, the Department will send out the form along with the offer letter).

l)      Once the applicant has returned the form, the recruiting manager or admissions tutor needs to complete their sections 58-68 of the form. For further details on the responsibility of the recruiting manager or admissions tutor, please see section  ‘Responsibilities of Recruiting Manager/Admissions Tutor’

m)  Once the recruiting manager/admissions tutor has completed their section of the DBS application form, they should send it to Human Resources for a job applicant and to the Academic Registry for students for countersigning, along with the relevant charge code.

n)    The Signatories authorised by the DBS are:
• Deputy Chief Operating Officer: Andrew Burgess, DCOO, Lead Signatory
• Human Resources: Jo Arno, HR Adviser (Countersignatory), Anne Lamb, HR Adviser (Countersignatory), Elaine Beaken, Senior HR Officer (Countersignatory), Angela Iannucci, HR Officer (Countersignatory)
• Academic Registry: Jennifer Nutkins, Academic Registrar (Countersignatory), Chris Dunbobbin Assistant Registrar (Countersignatory)

o)    The countersignatory should consult the section called ‘Responsibilities for countersignatories’ before completing their section on the application form. Once the application form has been completed, a record of the form will be recorded and stored securely in Human Resources or the Academic Registry only until the completed disclosure has been verified.

p)    The result of the disclosure process will be returned to the applicant.  The applicant is then responsible for providing this information to the University.  See section:  Making a decision based on the disclosure.  If the applicant has signed up to the Update Service, details of this can be given to the Recruiting Manager/Admissions Tutor.

q)    The timescales set out by the DBS for completion of disclosures is as follows:

- Enhanced Disclosure: 90% enhanced in 2 weeks
- Standard Disclosure: 95% standard in 2 weeks, 100% of all checks in 8 weeks.

If the applicant refuses to comply with any stage of this process, they must be advised that their offer of employment or study will not be confirmed without a satisfactory disclosure received from the DBS.

Responsibilities of Recruiting Manager/Admissions Tutor

a)    It is imperative that the recruiting manager or admissions tutor follow the guidelines on confirming identification correctly. Failure to do so not only leaves the vulnerable people, the applicant will be exposed to at risk, but also the University for failing to take the necessary precautions.

b)    The DBS has three routes available for checking an applicants ID. They are included in the following document: DBS new ID checking guidance

c)    It is expected that for the vast majority of applicants, route 1 will be sufficient.

d)    All documents seen must be originals.

e)    These forms of identification must be provided by the applicant in person.

f)      It is therefore wise to ask all candidates coming for an interview for a post/place where a disclosure will be required to bring along these forms of identification. The recruiting manager or admissions tutor should then see the person with their identification and record the details of the identification (e.g. passport number and so on).

g)    If this is not possible, the successful applicant should be asked to send the original documents to the recruiting manager or admissions tutor for verification.

h)    It is not acceptable for the applicant to complete sections 58-68 of the form on behalf of the recruiting manager or admissions tutor.

i)      The recruiting manager or admissions tutor must check the name, address and date of birth entered by the applicant on the application form, and ensure that those details correspond with the proof of identification provided.

j)      The recruiting manager or admissions tutor must also check for signs of tampering when checking identity documents. Any signs of damage must be queried. The DBS has published the following guidance on authenticating documents: see section 6 below.

k)    As well as establishing on individual's identity, the recruiting managers/admissions tutor must also check and validate the information provided by the applicant on the application form, (e.g. verification of current address, passport details etc), if these haven't been used as part of the ID checking process.

l)      The recruiting manager or admissions tutor should then complete sections 58 to 68.

m)  The recruiting manager and admissions tutor is responsible for providing the relevant countersignatory with a charge code. The DBS application form will not be sent to the DBS until a charge code has been received.

Authenticating Documents

a)    Passport
Check the general quality and condition of the passport.  Treat it with suspicion if it is excessively damaged; accidental damage is often used to conceal tampering.  Photographs should be examined closely for signs of damage to the laminate or for excessive glue or slitting of the laminate; these signs would indicate photo substitution.  If the photograph appears excessively large, this might indicate an attempt to hide another photograph underneath.  There should also be an embossed strip embedded into the laminate, which will catch a portion of the photograph.  Check there is no damage to this area. If the passport is from a foreign national, you can still follow the same general procedures as above.

b)    Photo driving licence
Examine the licence for evidence of photo tampering or any amendment of the printed details.

c)    Old style driving licence (no photograph) 
Remove the document from the plastic wallet and check that it is printed on both sides.  It should have a watermark visible by holding the licence up to the light and there should be no punctuation marks in the name or address.  The ‘Valid To’ date should be the day before the bearer’s 70th birthday (unless the bearer is already over 70).  The ‘Valid To’ date can therefore be cross-referenced with the applicant’s date of birth detailed in Section A.

d)    Birth certificate
Birth certificates are not wholly reliable for confirming identity, since copies are easily obtained.  However, certificates issued at the time of birth are more reliable than recently issued duplicates.

Check the quality of paper used; genuine certificates use a high grade.  There should be a watermark visible when the document is held up to the light.  Any signs of smoothness on the surface would indicate that original text might have been washed or rubbed away.  There should be no signs of tampering, changes using liquid paper, overwriting or spelling mistakes.

e)    EU Photo Identity Card 
Examine the card for evidence of photo tampering or any amendment of the printed details.

f)      HM Forces ID Card
Examine the card for evidence of photo tampering or any amendment of the printed details.

g)    Firearms licence
Check the licence is printed on blue security paper with a Royal crest watermark and a feint pattern stating the words ‘Home Office’. Examine the licence for evidence of photo tampering or any amendment of the printed details, which should include home address and date of birth. The licence should be signed by the holder and bear the authorising signature of the chief of police for the area in which they live, or normally a person to whom his authority has been delegated.

Other forms of identification
Ensure all letters and statements are recent, i.e. within a 3 month period. Do not accept documentation printed from the internet. Check letter headed paper is used, bank headers are correct and all documentation looks genuine.

Making a Decision Based on the Disclosure

Due to a change in the law, the DBS has stopped automatically issuing copies of DBS Certificates to Registered Bodies. This means that the applicant will be the only person to receive a copy of the DBS Certificate; the University WILL NOT receive a copy. The applicant will therefore be required to show their certificate (NOT A COPY) to a member of staff within the University in order that the University can satisfy itself that the outcome of your check is satisfactory. The procedure for this will vary depending on the situation:

-       If you are a PGCE applicant, you will be required to show your certificate to one of the countersignatories.

-       If you are applying for a DBS check for other reasons (e.g. volunteering as a student mentor, or undertaking research as part of your programme of study), you will normally be required to show your certificate to the person who checked your identity documents (Evidence-Checker).

-       If you are a prospective staff member you will be required to show your certificate to the person who checked your identify documents (Evidence Checker).

The Evidence Checker will need to satisfy themselves that the Certificate is genuine (guidance on this is available at:  https://www.gov.uk/disclosure-barring-service-check/tracking-applications-getting-certificate) and take a copy (scan or photocopy) of the Certificate which they must send to one of the Countersignatories).  The Evidence-Checker should take a copy of the form and write on it "I (name) certify that this is a true copy of the original document", they should then sign and date the document.  This should be sent to HR or Academic Registry in a confidential envelope.

a)    If the disclosure confirms that the applicant has no convictions, the recruitment procedure can be progressed as necessary. A record that the check has been carried out should be kept on the personal file. Any copy of the form or the actual disclosure must NOT be kept on file.

b)    If the disclosure comes back with any convictions/cautions or warnings on, the person receiving this information should contact the relevant countersignatory who will contact another countersignatory to discuss the Disclosure.

c)    In order to gain further information, especially if the convictions appear serious enough to preclude the applicant from studying/employment, and also to confirm that the DBS have provided the correct information, the countersignatory should contact the applicant and where possible, arrange a meeting to discuss the convictions in more detail. At the meeting, two countersignatories should be present.

d)    During the conversation the applicant should be asked for the details surrounding the conviction and what their feelings are about the conviction to assess their attitude towards it.

e)    The recruiting manager or admissions tutor will provide advice on the nature of the job/course to the countersignatories who will then make a decision on the applicant’s suitability. This decision should be based on the following information:

  1. the date of the conviction(s): convictions from many years ago may have less relevance than more recent convictions. However, conviction for violent conduct or sexual offences regardless of their age should always be viewed with caution when considering someone’s suitability to work with children for example.
  2. the nature of the conviction(s): generally sexual, violent and serious drugs offences will preclude someone from working with vulnerable people for example. It is important to weigh the prospect of rehabilitation against the safety of vulnerable people, but sometimes, former drug addicts are the best people to help drug users for example.
  3. the number of conviction(s): a series of offences over a period of time is likely to be more cause for concern than an isolated minor conviction.
  4. the relevance to the job/course applied for: a conviction for theft may have no direct relevant to someone applying for work with children.

f)      In some circumstances some information may be sent under separate cover to the countersignatory and should not be revealed to the applicant. This will be clearly identified by the DBS.

g)    A record of the decision and why that particular decision was reached should be written and retained with the disclosure papers for future reference. This will enable the University to provide clear reasons for its actions in the event that the decision is challenged, but will be destroyed after six months along with all other paperwork.

h)    A form confirming that a satisfactory disclosure has been carried out must be retained on the person’s personal file. This will not disclose any details of any convictions.

i)      Once the decision has been made, the countersignatory should advise the recruiting manager and admissions tutor. If they have withdrawn the offer on the basis of the disclosure, the countersignatory will contact the applicant.

Cost of DBS Checks

a)    Standard disclosure cost £26 and Enhanced disclosure £44 – web link to fees:  (http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/agencies-public-bodies/dbs/services/dbs-checking-service/fees1/).   The University has ‘Payment on Account’ status with the DBS which means that on a monthly basis the DBS will claim the cost of all the disclosures the DBS has carried out on behalf of the University by direct debit and will send the University a statement accordingly.

b)    The University does not expect successful job applicants to pay for a disclosure requested by the University as a condition of employment. The recruiting Department will be required to cover the cost of the disclosure.

c)    Similarly, the University recognises that prospective students may be required to undergo disclosures for several Universities who have offered them a place. In order to remain competitive, the University expects the recruiting Department to cover the cost of the disclosure.

d)    When sending a DBS application form to the countersignatory, the recruiting manager or admissions tutor should provide a charge code. The countersignatory will not send the application form to the DBS if the charge code has not been received.

Countersignatories will record the details of the disclosures they have requested from the DBS and reconcile these with Finance to enable Finance to ensure that the invoice from the DBS is accurate. The countersignatories will also provide Finance with the charge code to enable Finance to charge the Departments for the checks they have requested. 

Storage of Information

a)    The DBS has issued very strict guidance on the storage and retention of disclosure paperwork. It is vital to ensure that this guidance is followed, not only to ensure that the DBS Code of Practice is followed, but also to ensure that the Data Protection Act is adhered to.

b)    All paperwork issued by the DBS (including a copy of the completed application form) must be kept in a locked non-portable container, (e.g. a filing cabinet and not a briefcase).

c)    All relevant paperwork and any records retained on computers must be secured and only accessible by those people who need access to it (e.g. the relevant countersignatory and the recruiting manager or admissions tutor).

d)    A copy of the DBS application form and the disclosure paperwork must not at any time be placed on the student or staff personal file or retained in the Department.

e)    Whilst the disclosure is being processed, a note can be made in the personal file that a check has been requested and record the details of who is dealing with the matter.

f)      Once the disclosure has been received and a decision made on the applicant, a record of the following should be retained on the person’s personal file:

            • the date and type of disclosure
            • the DBS identification number
            • confirmation that the disclosure was satisfactory.

g)    The details held in the disclosure should only be used for the purpose requested and must not be divulged for reasons other than assessing an individual’s suitability to work or study in a particular situation.

h)    All copies of application forms and disclosure documents must be destroyed once they are no longer needed. Records must be destroyed after six months, as this will have given applicants suitable time to challenge the decision made.

i)      Disclosure papers should be destroyed by suitably secure means, i.e. shredding, pulping or burning. They should not be kept in any insecure receptacle (e.g. waste bin or confidential waste sack) whilst awaiting destruction.

The DBS reserves the right to audit compliance with these requirements. 

Regulated Activity

Under the new definition, the scope of Regulated Activity for work with children and young people will be:

1.    Unsupervised activities: teaching, training, instructing, caring for or supervising children, or providing advice / guidance on well-being, or driving a vehicle only for children.

2.    Work for a limited range of establishments (‘specified places’), with opportunity for contact, for example schools, children's homes, childcare premises (but not work by supervised volunteers).

Work under (1) or (2) is Regulated Activity only if done regularly. In this context, ‘regular’ means carried out by the same person frequently (once a week or more often), or on 4 or more days in a 30-day period (or in some cases, overnight).

3.    Relevant personal care, for example washing or dressing; or health care by or supervised by a professional, even if done once.

4.    Registered childminding; and foster-carers

Work that was previously Regulated Activity for work with children but will no longer be regulated, includes:

  • Activity supervised at reasonable level
  • Health care not by (or directed or supervised by) a health care professional.
  • Legal advice
  • “treatment/ therapy” (instead “health care”) unless this is ‘’advice/guidance on well-being’’
  • Work in ‘’specified places’’ which consists of occasional or temporary services, e.g. maintenance (not teaching etc.)
  • Volunteers in ‘’specified places’’ supervised at reasonable level.
  • All “positions” e.g. governors, trustees etc
  • Work carried out by inspectorates

As the description of the new categories of Regulated Activity indicates, the issue of whether or not activity is considered to be regulated under the new definition may depend in many cases on whether it is supervised or not. The legal definition of supervision in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 states that the supervision should be: 

  • ‘regular’
  • ‘day to day’
  • ‘reasonable in all the circumstances for the purpose of protecting the children concerned’, and
  • ‘carried out by someone who is in regulated activity’

The definition deliberately ‘gives local managers the flexibility to determine what is reasonable in their circumstances’, and requires individual decisions to be made. To assist local organisations, the Government is therefore issuing guidance to help managers decide on the level of supervision required in any given situation

Further information in relation to Regulated Activity:  http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/47/schedule/4


Author: Human Resources (Elaine Beaken) updated 01.12.14



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