There are thousands of young people in the UK working in occupations or volunteering in roles which would often require a DBS check. This could include young people who have left school at 16 and who are undertaking Apprenticeships in care work or in education with younger children, or people who are volunteering with the elderly as part of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme. The problem is that the current DBS system is only geared up to check adults over the age of 18, so what steps should employers and voluntary organisations taken when dealing with people between the ages of 16 and 18?

Before 2012

Part of the confusion around what the system is for checking out the records of young people aged under 18 is that before 2012 children as young as 13 could apply for similar checks under the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checking process. The reasoning was that as the age of criminal responsibility is 12, anyone over that age could potentially have a criminal record and should therefore be checked out if volunteering or working in a role which requires DBS checking. The system changed with the introduction of the Disclosure and Barring Service, but even though the DBS has been in operation for more than five years, there are still some organisations unaware of the changes and who still think the old system applies.

Process for DBS Checks on a Young Person

If a 16 year old is told that they need a DBS check to undertake a voluntary role or because of part time work, the same process for applying for the DBS check applies as with older workers. The application fee is the same for everyone, although no fee applies when the young person is being checked for a voluntary position. The change in rules five years ago means that although the age of criminal responsibility remains unchanged, DBS checks can no longer be carried out on anyone under the age of 16. DBS checks can only be carried out for roles which require it; employers are not allowed to carry out checks on all volunteers or employees as a matter of course or make up their own minds about who should be checked.

Proving Identity and Address for DBS

Often the main problem for young people applying for a DBS check is the very first stage of proving their identity. Young people who have been in full time education and who have not travelled abroad may not have a bank account, passport or utility bills in their own name. They are too young for a driving licence or contracts for things like mobile phones. There is a comprehensive list of documents which can be used to prove your identity for DBS checks, and these can be found on the government websites. Birth certificates are usually provided by young people, and if the applicant is unable to produce other documentation, the DBS will accept a letter from a teacher or principal of a college to process the application.