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3.18 Disclosure and Barring Service


  1. Criminal Records Checks
  2. Barred Lists
  3. Duty to Refer
  4. Regulated Activity

1. Criminal Records Checks

An important part of safe recruitment is identifying candidates who may be unsuitable for certain types of work, by way of criminal records checks.

Jobs that involve close and unsupervised contact with vulnerable groups including children and adults require an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check (see Regulated Activity).

In addition to information about a person's criminal record, an enhanced disclosure contains details of whether a person is recorded as barred from working with children or adults in a regulated activity.

There is a duty on employers to ascertain whether a person is barred before permitting that person to engage in Regulated Activity.

The Disclosure and Barring Service Update Service lets applicants keep their DBS certificates up to date online and allows employers to check a certificate online to avoid repeat applications.

2. Barred Lists

The Disclosure and Barring Service, previously the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), maintains lists of people barred from working with children and adults in Regulated Activity.

It is a criminal offence for a person who is on the Barred List to seek or undertake work with adults in a regulated activity including voluntary, self-employed, private or domestic work.

It is a criminal offence for an employer to knowingly take on an employee or volunteer who is on the barred list in a position working with adults in a regulated activity.

The DBS’ role is to make barring decisions about people who are referred to it (usually following an employer’s disciplinary process), with the possible consequence of the person being barred from working or volunteering with children and/or adults. The DBS uses a fair, thorough and consistent process that ensures that the decision it reaches is both proportionate and appropriate to the risk the person poses to children or adults.

3. Duty to Refer

If your organisation works with children or Adults at Risk and you dismiss or remove a person from regulated activity (or may have done so had they not left) because they have harmed or posed a risk of Harm to a child or adult, you have a legal duty to refer the person to the DBS.

The DBS website provides a range of materials to help you to consider or make a referral. This includes a Referral Form, Referral Guidance, FAQs - and a series of Fact Sheets.

You can also contact the DBS Helpline on 01325 953795 for information or advice about making a referral.

Click here to view Local Authority: Referral Duty and Power - This provides information about the power of the local authority to refer to the DBS in certain circumstances following a Safeguarding Adults enquiry.

4. Regulated Activity

The definition of Regulated Activity is designed to cover those activities which provide the highest levels of risk arising from the nature of the post and access to vulnerable people. The definition focuses on those activities which, should they be needed by any adult, mean that an adult is considered a risk at the point of receiving them.

There are six categories of people who will fall within the definition of Regulated Activity (including anyone who provides day to day management or supervision of those people):

  1. Healthcare for adults provided by, or under the direction or supervision of a regulated health care professional;
  2. Personal care for adults involving hand-on physical assistance with washing and dressing, eating, drinking and toileting; prompting and supervising an adult with any of these tasks because of their age, illness or disability; or teaching someone to do one of these tasks;
  3. Social work - provision by a social care worker of social work which is required in connection with any health services or social services;
  4. Assistance with an adult’s cash, bills or shopping because of their age, illness or disability arranged via a third party;
  5. Assisting in the conduct of an adult’s own affairs under a formal appointment;
  6. Conveying adults for reasons of age, illness or disability to, from, or between places, where they receive healthcare, personal care or social work arranged via a third party.