There’s a lot of confusion around the UK’s system for checking people who apply to work with groups of people classed as vulnerable, such as children or the elderly. This is partly because England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all have different systems, which use different names. To add to the confusion further, many people are still using the old acronym of CRB or Criminal Records Bureau, even though this organisation changed its name years ago. In addition to the police checking which applicants for certain jobs undergo, there are also Barred Lists which are searched when someone applies for specific positions.

Barred Lists

In the UK, there are two lists held of barred people. These were created under legislation in the Protecting of Vulnerable Groups Act of 2006. One lists people banned from working with children, the other lists people banned from working with vulnerable adults. A person may appear on just one list, or both. Unlike a DBS check where the employer is free to make a judgement call on the applicant based on the nature of the offences or how long ago the conviction was made, it is a criminal offence to employ someone whose name appears on one of the two lists in a job working with vulnerable groups. It’s also a criminal offence for someone who knows their name is on a Barred List to apply for this sort of job in the first place.

Making Barring Decisions

People’s names are not added to the Barred Lists lightly. Being included on a Barred List can rule out many types of employment and volunteer opportunities. The DBS makes the final call on who should be added to a Barred List, taking into account information from the Police, employers or other regulated bodies. The person under consideration also has the opportunity to state their case to the DBS. In 2013, 2,635 people were added to the list of people barred from working with children, 1,305 to the adult list and 900 to both lists. When applying for an enhanced disclosure, the barring lists are searched automatically and any inclusion will be clearly stated on the form. Employers and regulatory bodies also have the duty to report to the DBS any incidents or convictions which could lead someone to be put onto the barred lists.

Length of Barring

When a name is added to a list of people barred from working with children or vulnerable adults, the expectation is that it will remain there for life. However, depending on the age of the person when they were barred, they have the right to ask the DBS to reconsider their decision after a certain period of time. If they were under 18, they can ask for reconsideration after a year, between 18 and 24 after five years, and over 24 after ten years. This doesn’t mean that the DBS will change their position and agree to remove someone from the list; it just gives them the right to ask.