Human Resources

Recruitment & probation

Policy for accessing the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

Introduction

Scope

1. This policy applies to applicants for roles where disclosure is judged to be required; current employees in such roles; applicants for courses and programmes where disclosure is judged to be required; and current students enrolled on such courses. Examples of the types of roles and courses which might be subject to DBS disclosure are set out in paragraphs 14 to 16 below.

What is the DBS?

2. The Disclosure and Barring Service is a government agency that replaced the former Criminal Records Bureau and the Independent Safeguarding Authority.  By providing confidential access to criminal record information, it helps organisations to identify individuals who may be unsuitable for certain work, particularly work involving contact with children or other vulnerable persons.

Why does the University apply for disclosures?

3. Some of the roles at Loughborough University (and at its subsidiaries / partner agencies on whose behalf it applies for DBS checks) require employees  to come into contact with children and vulnerable members of the public and to assume positions of particular trust.  Some are required to become registered members of regulated professions. This is also the case for professional training programmes provided by Loughborough University.  Where registration with a professional body is a requirement for students, the regulators of those professions require that the University has processes in place to ensure that students are fit to practice during the programme and on registration.  The University is required to ensure that only suitable candidates are permitted to enrol on such programmes or to be employed in such roles and it uses the DBS to obtain information on the criminal records of applicants to assess their suitability.

DBS fees

4. Fees are payable for new disclosures with the exception of volunteer roles.  Fees are payable by the University, either via direct debit (standard, enhanced, barred lists checks) or via reimbursement to the applicant (basic checks).

Policy Statement

6. As an organisation using the DBS disclosure service to assess applicants’ suitability for positions of trust, the University complies fully with the DBS Code of Practice and undertakes to treat all applicants fairly and not to discriminate against any subject of a disclosure on the basis of conviction or other information revealed.  The University makes every subject of a DBS disclosure aware of the Code of Practice and will make a copy available on request.

7. For the majority of job roles, courses and programmes, the University will only ask applicants about “unspent” convictions, as defined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.  However, applicants for certain job roles or students applying for certain professional courses are required at application to make an enhanced declaration in relation to criminal convictions, as are staff and students in situ whose remits change to encompass these activities, for example when developing certain types of research.  These relate to professions or occupations which are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (1974) or those involving certain types of work with children or vulnerable adults including the elderly or sick people. On enrolment all applicants to professional courses will be subject to a DBS check, as will successful job applicants.
 
8. Where disclosure is to form part of the recruitment process, applicants will be informed of the procedure and requirements for providing information to the University at the appropriate time.
 
9. Having a criminal record will not necessarily be a bar to being appointed to a role, obtaining a place on a programme or undertaking activities for which a DBS disclosure is required.  Procedures are in place to ensure that decisions on suitability are made fairly in the light of all the available evidence. 
 
10. Failure to disclose a criminal conviction or caution may result in the withdrawal of an offer or, in the case of current students or staff, action under the relevant disciplinary or fitness to practice procedure.
 
11. Where an offer of a place/job is withdrawn on the basis of information contained within a DBS disclosure, the University will confirm this in writing.

Levels of Disclosure

12. Four levels of disclosure are available:

a) Basic

A basic DBS check is a criminal record check that and individual can request for themselves.  They may also be asked to obtain a basic check by the University as part of its vetting and safeguarding processes. 

b) Standard

The standard check is available for duties, positions and licences included in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975.  A standard level certificate contains details of all spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings from the Police National Computer (PNC).

c) Enhanced

The enhanced check is available for specific duties, positions and licences included in both the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions Order 1975) and the Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) regulations, for example, regularly caring for, teaching or supervising children and specified activities with adults in receipt of health care or social care services.  An enhanced level certificate contains the same PNC information as the standard level certificate but also includes a check of information held by police forces.

d) Enhanced with barred list check

The enhanced check with barred list check is only available for those individuals who are carrying out regulated activity and a small number of positions listed in Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) regulations.  An enhanced level certificate with barred list check contains the same PNC information and check of information held by police forces as an enhanced level check but in addition will check against the children’s and/or adult’s barred lists.

Types of roles, courses and activities where DBS disclosure is relevant

13. A list of roles, courses and activities for which DBS disclosure will be developed and regularly updated.  These will be available on request from Human Resources (roles) and the Academic Registry (courses, student activities).  Examples are provided below for illustrative purposes.

14. Examples of the types of job roles for which DBS disclosure is required include:

  • Hall Warden
  • Athletics coach whose role is primarily to coach para-athletes; and
  • Lecturers and instructors teaching young people under the age of 18 on foundation courses.

15. When an offer is accepted by a prospective student  who will be under the age of 18 at the time of enrolment, the arrangements relating to such students are reviewed by Student Services and a view taken whether DBS disclosures are required. 

16. Examples of the types of courses and activities for which DBS disclosure for enrolled students is sought include:

  • Trainee teacher;
  • Research student whose research involves the unsupervised care of children; and
  • Student outreach activities where the student is responsible for the overnight supervision of under 18s.

Roles and responsibilities

17. Seeking a DBS disclosure is a serious undertaking and involves access to sensitive personal information.  It is important, therefore, that those involved understand their part in the process.  There are three main roles involved in the process.

a. Verifier

The verifier works with Human Resources or the Academic Registry to determine the appropriate level of check to be undertaken, if not already included in the University’s lists. The decision as to the level of check to be undertaken is the responsibility of the countersignatory.

Verifiers will also meet the applicant to confirm their identity, completing the relevant sections of the application form on behalf of the University.

The verifier will also be the first point of contact to see the applicant’s certificate, referring any concerns in relation to the information provided to the countersignatory.

b. Countersignatory

A countersignatory is a person within the University who is registered with the DBS to make a declaration that the position is eligible for the DBS check requested.  They countersign applications to this effect, confirming also that the application has been completed appropriately. The Lead Countersignatory is a senior figure within the University who oversees the DBS process.

c. Advisers to the countersignatories

Where a disclosure is received that gives cause for concern, countersignatories may seek advice  from relevant senior members of the University.

Disclosure procedures

18. The initial disclosure procedure for students applying for professional courses is set out in the policy and procedure for applicants with a criminal conviction.

19. Successful applicants for job roles will be notified of the initial disclosure procedure when they receive their conditional offer.

20. Staff employed in job roles or students enrolled on programmes or undertaking activities eligible for DBS checks must declare any criminal conviction or caution whilst employed by the University.  Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action.

Applicants from overseas or with significant overseas residence

21. Applicants who fall into this category will include nationals of other countries and UK nationals who have had significant periods of residence overseas.  

22. Where an applicant has been resident in the UK for at least two months, a DBS disclosure should be sought, although it is recognised that the disclosure is likely to be of limited value where the period of UK residence has been short. 

23. Applicants will be required to produce evidence of their conduct overseas (usually a Certificate of Good Conduct or equivalent document). 

Agency workers and contractors

24. If it is necessary to fill a role requiring DBS disclosure with an agency worker or contractor,  the recruiting managers are responsible for ensuring that agency workers and contractors have been DBS checked at the appropriate level by the agency/supplier, with confirmation in writing, before starting work at the University.

Work experience placements hosted by the University

25. Before any child under 18 years of age is permitted to undertake work experience at the University, the responsible manager for the host department must assess whether a DBS disclosure is required for the staff supervising the child’s placement and ensure that the disclosure is received before the placement begins.

Storage, handling, retention and disposal of disclosures and disclosure information

General Principles

26. The University complies fully with the Code of Practice regarding the correct handling, use, storage, retention and disposal of applications and certificate information. It also complies fully with its obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998 and other relevant legislation pertaining to the safe handling, use, storage, retention and disposal of DBS information, as set out in the data protection policy.

Storage and access

27. Certificate information is kept securely, in lockable, non-portable, storage containers with access strictly controlled and limited to those who are entitled to see it as part of their duties.

Handling and use

28. In accordance with section 124 of the Police Act 1997, certificate information is only passed to those who are authorised to receive it in the course of their duties. The University maintains a record of all those to whom certificates or certificate information has been revealed and it is a criminal offence to pass this information to anyone who is not entitled to receive it.  Certificate information is only used for the specific purpose for which it was requested and for which the applicant’s full consent has been given.

Retention and disposal

29. The application and certificate information (other than that set out in paragraph 31) is only kept for as long as necessary, generally no longer than six months after a recruitment (or other relevant) decision has been made, to allow for the consideration and resolution of any disputes or complaints.  If, in very exceptional circumstances, it is considered necessary to keep certificate information for longer than six months, the University will seek advice as necessary and will give full consideration to the Data Protection and Human Rights of the individual before doing so.  Throughout this time, the conditions regarding the safe storage and strictly controlled access described in paragraph 28 will continue to apply.

30. Once the retention period has elapsed, the University will ensure that any DBS application and certificate information is destroyed by secure means. While awaiting destruction, certificate information will not be kept in any insecure receptacle (e.g. waste bin or confidential waste sack).

31. The University may keep a record of the date of issue of a certificate, the name of the subject, the type of certificate requested, the position for which the certificate was requested, the unique reference number of the certificate and the details of the recruitment (or other relevant) decision taken.