A guide to DBS checks for charities

Since the work of many charities involves contact with children and vulnerable adults, DBS checks are of great importance to confirm if employees are volunteers are suitable for a particular position.

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However, legislation and the misconceptions regarding DBS checks have created confusion as to who is required to have one and which level. Consequently, we have assembled guidance below to help simplify the process.

Eligibility for a DBS Check

Deciding the level, as well as who actually needs needs a Standard or Enhanced check, will depend on the type of charity and the position the applicant has applied for.

Enhanced checks are usually required for those working with vulnerable groups. For example, trustees of charities who work with vulnerable children or adults will be required to undergo an Enhanced check. An Enhanced check provides information on any warnings, cautions, reprimands and both ‘spent’ and ‘unspent’ convictions.

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These can also be requested for volunteers and employers, depending on their position. For instance, individuals working regularly with vulnerable adults or children are eligible for such checks. However, if a volunteer or employee does not come into regular contact with vulnerable groups, then whether or not a check is required will be determined by the legislation concerning their position.

If you are unsure who is eligible for a check, the website of the Disclosure and Baring Service provide an eligibility tool that you can find here: https://www.gov.uk/find-out-dbs-check.

Basic checks can be requested for those who are not eligible for the Standard or Enhanced Checks that will provide information on any ‘unspent’ convictions (those considered serious and recent). These must be disclosed to employers, owing to the fact they haven’t yet reached their defined time.

Volunteers are not exempt from undergoing a DBS check. However, they are likely to be cheaper if the candidate meets the volunteer criteria of the DBS.

Obtaining DBS Checks

Charities can register with an organisation like Carecheck to handle their criminal record checks. Requesting DBS checks is a simple task since they can be processed online.

However, it is important for charities who wish to obtain DBS checks to observe and comply with policies regarding criminal records of their associate regulatory bodies. This is particularly important when considering at what stage DBS checks should be renewed in relation to current employees and volunteers.