Last updated: 01.05.19

Why are DBS checks so important?

What are DBS checks?

Most people will have heard of DBS checks, and will be at least familiar with the concept, but many still don’t realise quite how important these are. The simple fact is that when you’re bringing someone into an organisation, whether as a full-time employee, contractor, or other type of worker, you’re introducing some uncertainty. DBS checks help ensure that when this is happening in a sensitive role such as those responsible for vulnerable people, the right decision can be made, and less uncertainty is introduced. In this article, we’re going to take a look at why these checks are important by considering the background of their introduction, what they seek to achieve, and how they work.

Background and the law

In 2012, the Criminal Records Bureau and the Independent Safeguarding Authority both merged to form the Disclosure and Barring Service, which is the non-departmental government body responsible for ensuring that employers can make the right decisions about who they employ when it comes to certain job roles. It’s worth noting that the Criminal Records Bureau previously had the responsibility for checks, which is why they were previously known as CRB checks, and are now instead known as DBS checks.

DBS checks are all about safer recruitment, which is one of the core elements of safeguarding (read more in detail here). Safeguarding is a very broad concept and initiative that seeks to protect vulnerable people - both children and adults - from abuse, harm and neglect. In all walks of life, vulnerable individuals face risks, and safeguarding is how we as a society protect them from those risks. Safeguarding is something practiced by employers, employees, local authorities, and is also something that the community as a whole is expected to take part in. We can prevent older people from being taken advantage of financially, we can protect young children from being neglected when in care, and we can prevent vulnerable people from being sexually abused.

Why is Safer Recruitment so important?

One of the most important parts of safeguarding is ensuring that the people that work with vulnerable people are suited to the role. Much of this will come at the interview process, and the deciding of whether or not the interviewee has the right characteristics for the role. However, this doesn’t go far enough. Some people will have a criminal history that indicates that they may not be suitable for working with certain types of people, and they may also have a non-criminal history that is otherwise of interest to the police. Safer recruitment guidelines mandate that this is checked beforehand.

DBS checks are how employees can be sure that they’re doing everything in their power to hire the right people.

There is a legal requirement in the UK for any employers that work in certain industries, such as health and social care, to notify the DBS if a person leaves a role because they harmed someone for which they had responsibility. In addition, anyone barred from such a role may not legally apply for the role, and it is also illegal for an employer to employ someone to the role if they have been barred or are otherwise unsuitable. This is the legal reason for why it is essential that a DBS check is carried out where vulnerable adults and children are involved, or in any other named role in which criminal record is important.

What does a DBS check involve?

There are four types of DBS check, each one involving slightly different things. Let’s take a look at them here.

Basic check - The very first level of the DBS check is the basic check, which details any unspent convictions, warnings, and cautions. Any employer can request that a basic check is applied for and presented.

Standard check - The standard check includes everything that the basic check involves, but also details spent convictions, warnings and cautions too. This makes it more appropriate for certain roles such as security guards, but it can only be requested for certain job roles

Enhanced check - The enhanced check is another level further and is aimed more towards those that are considering safeguarding as an issue. It includes all details on record as with the standard check, but it also includes any details that the police think might be relevant to the role. Again, only certain job openings can request an enhanced check, and they are generally those roles that involve dealing with vulnerable adults and children.

Enhanced check with barred lists - The police do also hold lists of people that are barred from certain roles for various reasons. This final level also includes a check of these lists to ensure that the person is not present on them for the role in question.

The above checks are always requested by the employer, and the employer must gain the consent of the individual in question in order to apply for the check. Under law, the DBS check must go ahead, and be passed, in order for the applicant to be able to accept an offer of employment.

Safer recruitment training

It’s important for recruiters and business managers to understand exactly what they need to do when it comes to safeguarding and safer recruitment in particular. There are legal obligations to meet, and often this is something that does require training. Thankfully, there are options for businesses and individuals that need to find out more about what their responsibilities are when it comes to getting DBS checks for new staff, and the general vetting process for applicants. Here at Virtual College, we’re proud to be experts in delivering various types of safeguarding training and are a UK leader in this field. Our safer recruitment course is designed to cover the legal requirement relevant to anybody involved in the recruitment of people who work with children, young people or vulnerable adults. Click here to find out more about this course.

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