Most of the information online about the DBS focuses on the Disclosure part of the service, with people applying for Basic, Enhanced or Standard Disclosure certificates. But the full name of the body is the Disclosure and Barring Service. The “Barring” part of the description refers to the formal legal process for blocking someone from specific types of work. Most workers don’t understand what Barring is all about and how it works, let alone know how to make a referral about a colleague or employee.


Barred Lists

The government keeps legal registers of people who are banned from law from working with certain groups of people. People might be banned from working with children, adults or both groups. The ban is usually imposed by a court. Once someone’s name is added to the Barred List, it is an offence for them to apply for a job involving working with those groups, and also an offence for the employer to offer them a position. Most detailed DBS checks, especially those for people working in healthcare or with children, include a search of the Barred Lists as a matter of course.


Barring Referrals

A barring referral is the name for the process which an employer or other body goes through to get someone’s name added to the Barred Lists. If the person is working in regulated activity, such as in a nursery, hospital or as a social carer, then employers have a legal obligation to pass on details to the DBS when they hear about harm being caused to a child. There is lots of guidance online about who should be referred, and the situations in which someone should make a referral. Most large organisations will have lots of written policies and information too. In education settings, there is usually a senior member of staff who deals with all matters DBS related, and other safeguarding issues.


Jobs for People on the Barred Lists

People end up on the Barred Lists for all manner of reasons. Although some of these people will be hardened criminals who aren’t really interested in “going straight”, others may have made a one-off mistake and wish to continue a career in the future. As we said above, the inclusion of a name on a Barred List blocks people from applying for jobs in particular market sectors. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t get work in other sectors.

Many employers don’t run DBS checks at all on workers. It is very unusual to need a DBS check for work in a shop, office or in the hospitality industry, for example. Even if an employer does ask for a basic DBS check, this will only show current and unspent criminal convictions. If the incident which led to the barring was several years ago, then it may be considered spent. This will all depend on the type of conviction (if any), and any sentence which was handed down by court at the time of the Barring. Ex-offenders’ charities are often a great source of information and support to people in this situation.