According to public statistics, there are around 15 million people in the UK who volunteer at least once a month. Volunteers undertake a whole host of roles in the community, from working in shops belonging to one of the large national chains, to organising fundraising events for smaller, local charities. Not all volunteers need to undergo DBS checking, but the recent revelations about historic sex abuse in sporting clubs means that there in more emphasis than ever on making sure that volunteers are properly checked out to ensure they are fit people to hold the position.

Types of Roles Involved

Not all volunteers need to be checked by DBS, Disclosure Scotland or Access NI. Only volunteers whose role involves having caring responsibilities, or in roles involving children. Some examples of volunteers who would require a DBS check are Scout and Guide leaders, junior football team coaches, drivers taking disabled people to and from hospital appointments, or hospital volunteers who go onto the wards to talk to patients. People who volunteer at kennels to raise funds for an animal charity, work in a charity shop or who maintain community gardens will not require checking as their volunteering does not bring them into contact with other vulnerable groups. When applying for a role in a larger organisation or one of the national charities, they will have a policy on volunteer recruitment and should know whether a role requires DBS checking or not.

Cost for DBS Checking

Although the process which needs to be followed for a volunteer applying for a DBS is the same as for anyone else applying for checks, there is one crucial difference. People who are applying for DBS clearance, or to be added to the PVG scheme in connection with a voluntary role do not have to pay for their application. Volunteers will not be asked to pay any money at all for the DBS checks carried out on them. Charities should not be asking volunteers to make any contributions to these costs.

Documents Required

Volunteers will be asked to provide certain documents when applying for their checks to be carried out. This could include proof of identity documents such as passport or driving licence, and proof of residence evidence such as utility bills, credit card bills or mortgage or rent statements. The process for checking of identity documents and then submitting the forms to the relevant authority is the same whether dealing with volunteers or workers. Depending on the type of disclosure certificate required, all or some of a volunteer’s police record may be listed on the paperwork which is sent out. Depending on the role, charities and other organisations may be prepared to overlook minor convictions or cautions which happened a long time ago, and on the less detailed type of disclosure, these may not be listed at all. Managers in the charity or voluntary organisation will look at each case on its merits. There is lots of guidance about when convictions can be considered “spent” online.