This chapter provides information for multi-agency practitioners in relation to the criminal records checks that staff and volunteers who provide regulated activity, undergo when they work with adults with care and support needs. It outlines the role of the Disclosure and Barring Service and the different types of checks that can be requested. It also discusses the barred lists and the duty to refer a member of staff or volunteer in specific circumstances.
Employers need to take action in a number of different areas to ensure, to the best of their ability, the people who they employ – as paid staff, volunteers or contractors – are committed to providing good quality care and support and are not a risk to adults in receipt of care and support services, or their carers. Undertaking robust criminal records checks is part of a raft of safer recruitment measures, which are designed to try to prevent unsuitable people being employed to work with vulnerable groups. As well as recruitment processes, training, staff supervision and appraisal programmes are vital to ensuring good working practices.
2. Disclosure and Barring Service
The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) helps employers make safer recruitment decisions. It is responsible for:
- processing requests for criminal records checks;
- deciding whether it is appropriate for a person to be placed on or removed from a barred list;
- placing or removing people from the DBS children’s barred list and adults’ barred list for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
See DBS: Adult Workforce, for information about job roles.
3. Barred Lists and Duty to Refer
There are two barred lists maintained by the Disclosure and Barring Service in relation to those who are:
- barred from working with children;
- barred with working with adults.
A person who is barred from working with children or adults will be committing a criminal offence if they work, volunteer or try to work or volunteer with the group from which they have been barred.
An organisation which knowingly employs someone who is barred to work with that particular group will also be committing a criminal offence.
An organisation is legally obliged to inform the Disclosure and Barring Service if a member of staff or a volunteer is dismissed because they have harmed a child or adult, or would have been dismissed if they had not resigned or otherwise left.
4. Criminal Records Checks
Click here to view A guide to eligibility for criminal record checks, DBS
The role of the DBS is to assist employers to make safer recruitment decisions in relation to paid staff, volunteers or contractors. Through undertaking criminal records checks it identifies candidates who may be unsuitable.
4.1 Types of Disclosures
- Standard: this checks for spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings.
- Enhanced: This includes the same as the standard check plus any additional information held by local police that’s reasonably considered relevant to the workforce being applied for (adult, child or ‘other’ workforce). ‘Other’ workforce means those who don’t work with children or adults specifically, but potentially both, for example taxi drivers. In this case, the police will only release information that’s relevant to the post being applied for.
- Enhanced with list checks: this is like the enhanced check, but includes a check of the DBS barred lists.
4.2 Update Service
The DBS also provides an online Update Service, to which people can subscribe. This enables them to keep their criminal record certificate up to date, so it can be taken with them from role to role, as long as they remain within the same workforce. Employers can undertake instant, online checks of a person’s status, as long as they have registered with the update service. A new DBS check will only be required if the Update Service check indicates there has been a change in the person’s status, due to new information added.
4.3 Cautions and convictions
Before an organisation considers asking a person to apply for a criminal record check through the Disclosure and Barring Service, they are legally responsible for ensuring that they are entitled to submit an application for the job role (see A Guide to Eligibility for Criminal Records Checks as above).
Please note that since 29 May 2013, certain old and minor cautions and convictions are no longer subject to disclosure; see Disclosure and Barring Service Filtering Guide.
4. Regulated Activity with Adults
Regulated Activity is work which involves close and unsupervised contact with adults, and which cannot be undertaken by a person who is on the Disclosure and Barring Service’s Barred List for adults.
There are six categories of people who will fall within the definition of Regulated Activity (including anyone who provides day to day management or supervision of those people):
- providing health care;
- providing personal care (e.g. providing/training/instructing/or offering advice or guidance on physical assistance with eating or drinking, going to the toilet, washing or bathing, dressing, oral care or care of the skin, hair or nails because of an adult’s age, illness or disability; or prompting and supervising an adult to undertake such activities where necessary because of their age, illness or disability);
- providing social work;
- providing assistance with cash, bills and/or shopping;
- providing assistance in the conduct of a person’s own affairs, e.g. by virtue of an enduring power of attorney;
- conveying / transporting an adult (because of their age, illness or disability) either to or from their place of residence and a place where they have received, or will be receiving, health care, personal care or social care; or between places where they have received or will be receiving health care, personal care or social care. This will not include family and friends or taxi drivers.
There is a duty on a ‘regulated activity provider’ to ascertain whether a person is barred before permitting that person to engage in Regulated Activity.
It is a criminal offence for a barred individual to take part in Regulated Activity, or for an employer/voluntary organisation knowingly to employ a barred person in a Regulated Activity role.