Human Resources

Recruitment & probation

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:

  • Appointment to any post providing accommodation, care, leisure and recreational facilities, schooling, social services, supervision, or training to people aged under 18. Such posts include teachers, school caretakers, youth and social workers, childminders.
  • Employment providing social services to elderly people, mentally or physically disabled people, alcohol or drug misusers or the chronically sick.
  • Appointment to any office or employment involving the administration of justice including police officer, probation officers and traffic wardens.
  • Admission to certain professions which have legal protection (including lawyers, doctors, dentists, nurses, chemists and accountants).
  • Appointment to jobs where national security may be at risk (for example certain posts in the civil service and defence contractor.

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 DBS

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 contains 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 Exceptions Order List 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. The recruiting manager must also include the job description and person specification with the completed form otherwise sign off is not possible.

n) The Signatories authorised by the DBS are:

  • Deputy Chief Operating Officer: Andrew Burgess, DCOO, Lead Signatory
  • Human Resources (Countersignatory): Anne Lamb (Deputy Director (Human Resources)); Jo Arno (HR Partner); Carolyn Kenney (HR Partner); Angela Iannucci (HR Adviser) and Trish Barnard (Assistant Director (Human Resources)).
  • Academic Registry (Countersignatory): Jennifer Nutkins (Academic Registrar) and Chris Dunbobbin (Assistant Registrar)

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.

Cost of DBS checks

a) Standard disclosure cost £26 and Enhanced disclosure £44. 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:

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

b) 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).

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

d) 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

Author: Human Resources (Elaine Beaken) updated 01.12.14