Disclosure and Barring Service
|Formed||1 December 2012|
|Preceding agencies||Independent Safeguarding Authority
Criminal Records Bureau
|Agency executive||Adrienne Kelbie, Chief Executive|
The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is a non-departmental public body of the Home Office of the United Kingdom. The DBS enables organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors to make safer recruitment decisions by identifying candidates who may be unsuitable for certain work, especially that involve children or vulnerable adults, and provides wider access to criminal record information through its disclosure service for England and Wales.
The DBS was formed in 2012 by merging the functions of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. DBS started operating on 1 December 2012. It operates from Liverpool and Darlington. Its equivalent agencies are Disclosure Scotland in Scotland and Access Northern Ireland in Northern Ireland.
It is a legal requirement in the UK for regulated activity employers to refer safeguarding concerns to the DBS. It is illegal for anyone barred by the DBS to work, or apply to work with the sector (children or adults) from which they are barred. It is also illegal for an employer to knowingly employ a barred person in the sector from which they are barred.
On 17 June 2013, the DBS launched its Update Service. The online Service can radically improve the ease and speed with which employers can apply for criminal record checks and potentially create significant savings. For £13 a year, applicants subscribing to this optional service can potentially re-use their DBS certificate when changing jobs or roles within the same sector (where the Disclosure level, workforce details, barring list checks and volunteer status are the same as the new role). Where an individual has subscribed, the employer will not need to apply for a new certificate, but will be able to quickly perform an instant, online free check that the existing certificate is up to date. Under best practice the employer should check the applicant's identity to ensure that the Certificate belongs to that individual, check the Certificate is genuine and obtain consent to run an Update Service check.
The CRB had been due to partner with the ISA in administering the newly created Vetting and Barring Scheme from 2009. This was suspended in 2010 pending a review following the 2010 General Election. This review was published in February 2011, making recommendations for the merger of the Criminal Records Bureau and Independent Safeguarding Authority into one new non-departmental public body, the Disclosure and Barring Service, responsible for barring individuals and completing criminal record checks. Under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, the DBS does not require registration, nor are any details retained on a database.
An organisation which is entitled to ask exempted questions (under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974) must register with the DBS, or a registered DBS Umbrella Body before they can request a DBS check on an applicant. The applicant applies to the DBS with their application countersigned by the DBS Registered Organisation or Umbrella Body. The applicant's criminal record is then accessed from the Police National Computer (PNC), as well as checked, if appropriate, against lists of people considered unsuitable to work with children and vulnerable people maintained by the DBS (formerly maintained by the Independent Safeguarding Authority. A Copy of the completed certificate is sent to the applicant's home address.
If an individual or organisation has safeguarding concerns regarding a member of staff, they can make a safeguarding referral to the DBS who will work with multiple agencies to assess whether that individual should be Barred from working in regulated activity with children and/or vulnerable groups.
The Criminal Records Bureau was established under Part V of the Police Act 1997 and was launched in March 2002, following public concern about the safety of children, young people and vulnerable adults. It was found that the British police forces did not have adequate capability or resources to routinely process and fulfil the large number of criminal record checks requested in a timely fashion, so a dedicated agency was set up to administer this function.
Employers and temporary staff agencies have bemoaned the time it takes for a worker to be cleared by the DBS and in an effort to cut waiting times the government allowed the establishment of "Adult First" .
In May 2002, the Department for Education began maintaining a list of individuals who are not suitable to work with children. This list was originally named List 99, later named the ISA Children's Barred List (maintained by the Independent Safeguarding Authority) and finally, the DBS Children's Barred List (maintained by the Disclosure and Barring Service.
Under the Care Standards Act (2000), the Department for Health introduced an adult version of List 99 named 'POVA first' on 26 July 2004, this was later renamed 'ISA Adult First' and finally; 'DBS Adult First'. The Adult first and List 99 services allow registered bodies (when eligible) to check whether an applicant appears on the DBS Adults' or Children's Barred List through the online checking system, this takes around two working days to turn around. If the check is clean the organisation may provisionally employ the applicant, subject to an increased level in supervision, until the return by post of the full disclosure.
DBS application process
The process by which the DBS provides criminal record data is called DBS Certificate or a DBS check (previously CRB check). There are three levels of DBS checks, Standard, Enhanced and Enhanced with barred list checks (for Basic Disclosures, see Disclosure Scotland). DBS checks cannot be obtained by members of the public directly but are only available to organisations and only for those professions, offices, employments, work and occupations listed in the Exceptions Order (1975) to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 as amended by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.
Standard DBS Check
The standard DBS check is primarily for positions of high responsibility (for example, accountancy and security). Standard certificates reveal details of any convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings the applicant has received, that do not qualify for filtering. A standard check may only be applied for if the applicant's job role is specified in the Police Act 1997, as amended by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 
Enhanced DBS check
Enhanced DBS checks are for positions involving certain activities such as teaching children or treating adults and can also be obtained for certain other professions (for example, judicial appointments, RSPCA officers). An enhanced check may only be applied for if the applicant's job role is specified in both the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exception) order 1975 and the Police Act 1997.
In addition to the information provided on a Standard certificate, the Enhanced certificate involves an additional check with the police, who check if any other information is held on file that may be relevant (for instance, information that has not led to a criminal conviction but may indicate a danger to vulnerable groups). The police decide what (if any) additional information will be added to the certificate using the Quality Assurance Framework.
The involvement of local police forces can mean an enhanced check may take significantly longer than a standard check to be completed.
Enhanced with Barred List checks
This includes all that Enhanced certificate does, plus a check of the appropriate DBS Barred List. There are two DBS Barred Lists: one for adults, and one for children. The lists contain information on whether the applicant is barred from working with either of the two groups. An individual may only be checked against one or both barred lists if their job role is classified as a 'Regulated Activity' with children and/or adults under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006.
As of 29 May 2013[update], the DBS began to 'filter' certain criminal information from a DBS certificate if it meet the guidelines laid out in The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (Amendment) (England and Wales) Order 2013
Timeframe and Accuracy
The DBS aim to complete:
- 75% of all applications within 14 calendar days from receipt
- 90% of all applications within 28 calendar days from receipt
- 99% of all applications within 60 calendar days from receipt
The DBS currently aim to achieve a 99.8% accuracy rating for all certificates.
The procedures of the CRB were tightened following the Soham murders trial. Ian Huntley, a former caretaker, was found guilty of murdering two girls of a Cambridgeshire primary school in 2002. Huntley had been suspected of a string of offences including rape, indecent assault and burglary. His only conviction before the murders was for riding an uninsured and unlicensed motorcycle, but a burglary charge had remained on file. In January 2006, following controversies resulting from cases where staff had been hired by schools before a full CRB check had been carried out, the Department for Education and Skills stated: "Employers should obtain a CRB Enhanced Disclosure in respect of all teachers they recruit before the person is placed in a school." Huntley had been hired in November 2001, before the CRB came into force.
Sociologist Frank Furedi has stated that CRB checks cannot provide a "cast-iron guarantee that children will be safe with a particular adult", and that their use has created an atmosphere of suspicion and is "poisoning" relationships between the generations, with many ordinary parents finding themselves regarded as "potential child abusers". The restrictions imposed by the CRB check process have contributed to a shortage of adult volunteers in organizations such as Girlguiding UK.
- In February 2004, the National Audit Office criticised the CRB for "huge" delays.
- In May 2006, the Home Office revealed that about 2,700 people were mislabelled as criminals during checks.
In 2009 the CRB's Enhanced Disclosure was criticised for including details of any minor contact an individual has had with the police, even where no formal action was taken against them.
- "Disclosure and Barring Service". Home Office. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
- "Criminal Records Bureau". direct.gov.uk. Retrieved 2012-04-07.
- "Referral Guide for: Employers and Volunteer Managers". Disclosure and Barring Service. Disclsoure and Barring System. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
- Christopher Hope: A quarter of adults to face 'anti-paedophile' tests. The Daily Telegraph, 26 June 2008
- "History of checks U-turns". BBC News. 4 September 2002. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
- "POVA referrals - the first 100". Department of Health. Kings College London, Social Care Workforce Research Unit.
- "DBS Adult First". Home Office. Home Office (UK). Retrieved 21 January 2014.
- "Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) order 1975". Retrieved 21 May 2013.
- "Protection of Freedoms Act 2012". Retrieved 21 May 2013.
- "Eligibility Guidance". Disclosure and Barring Service. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
- "Disclosure and Barring Service FAQ". Disclosure and Barring Service. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
- "Quality Assurance Framework". Standards and Compliance Unit.
- The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (Amendment) (England and Wales) Order 2013
- "DBS Newsletter May 2013". Disclosure and Barring Service.
- "The CRB explained - How the criminal records bureau operates". The Guardian. 17 December 2003. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
- "Concerns about teachers' List 99". BBC News. 14 January 2006. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
- Morris, Steven (6 November 2003). "Ownership of red Fiesta is key issue in Soham trial". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
- BBC News Online. "Criminal checks agency criticised". 12 February 2004.
- BBC News Online. "Criminal records mix-up uncovered". 21 May 2006.
- The Guardian, 15 July 2009, The Criminal Gossip Bureau can ruin your job prospects
- Official website
- Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks (Disclosure and Barring Service) guide at gov.uk
- The CRB explained: How the criminal records bureau operates — Guardian Unlimited, 17 December 2003.