Press and TV news stories recently have been full of stories about people convicted or charged with child abuse when working in a position of responsibility, or committing similar offences against vulnerable adults. Processes for checking and vetting workers and volunteers have changed over the years, and in 2017 we’re now mostly aware that people require to be DBS checked before starting work. There is a lot of confusion though about who can get checks done and in what circumstances an individual can ask for checks to be done on someone close to them.

Employers or Voluntary Organisations

The largest group of people who want to carry out checks are employers, or people who are running voluntary organisations and are in charge of recruiting volunteers. Not all employers are entitled to ask for DBS checks to be done, as the law states that only certain roles are included in the scheme. For many employers, they will recruit a variety of staff and may only need to carry out DBS checks on some of them. In general, people working in healthcare, schools, care homes and social work will need to have DBS checks carried out at the enhanced (most detailed) level. Other workers in hospitals such as office staff or canteen staff may require checks done, but at a less detailed level. Comprehensive guidance on this is given on the government website, along with a tool helping employers and volunteer managers work out which type of check is appropriate in their case. Employers who are hiring people into positions with responsibility for money or for jobs in law may also be able to carry out DBS checking.

Private Individuals

People sending their children to a music teacher, football group or to school have no rights to carry out checks privately on the people running the groups. Most well-organised groups will advertise that their staff or volunteers are DBS checked, especially if they are part of a larger body such as Brownies or Boys Brigade. Larger organisations will all have Child Protection policies which parents can ask to see, and which will lay down the process for checking staff. Any concerns should be raised with the organiser of the group, or taken higher to the umbrella body.

Checks on Partners

Two pieces of legislation have also been enacted to allow private individuals, usually women, to find out if people in their lives could pose a threat to them or to their children. This type of checking is less detailed than a full DBS. Women can ask their local Police to inform them if a new boyfriend or partner has convictions for violence or domestic abuse in the past, and in serious cases Police may choose to proactively tell a woman about her partner’s past without being asked. Similar laws apply to convictions for violence or abuse convictions regarding children. However, in both these cases the Police make decisions about what should be disclosed to women, and what should be allowed to remain private. Convictions for anything other than violence or sex offences will not be disclosed.