National Safeguarding Unit (NSU) - Safe Activities For Everyone

Introducing the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) 

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A new scaled back vetting scheme, along with a restruture of the criminal record checking regime will soon be introduced as part of the Government’s review of the Vetting and Barring Scheme.

These changes will continued to help safeguard vulnerable groups and children and young people from people who work or volunteer with them who pose a risk of harm. 

On 1 May 2012, the Protection of Freedoms Bill received Royal Assent and became an Act of Parliament, confirming in legislation the changes to the system of barring and criminal record checks.
The Act makes a number of significant changes to CRB checks and checking against barred lists, which will be relevant to all groups working with children and young people. The main changes will be:

    The Criminal Records Bureau and the Independent Safeguarding Authority will be merged to form the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). This means that there will be only one organisation dealing with checks and barring decisions. This merger is due to occur in November 2012 The definition of regulated activity will change. In broad terms it will be:
    ‘Unsupervised’ contact with children or vulnerable adults which is 

    1. of a specified nature (teaching, training, care, supervision, advice, treatment or transport)
    OR
    2. In a specified place (schools, children’s homes and hospitals, juvenile detention centres)
    AND
  • Occurs ‘frequently, intensively and/or overnight’
    • ‘frequently’ is defined as once a week or more, but once a month or more for health and social care services;
    • ‘intensively’ is defined as four days in one month or more.
    • Overnight is defined as between 2.00am – 6am)
  • There will be new requirements to check employees and volunteers before they commence regulated activity. In most cases this will combine an enhanced CRB check and a check of the barred lists.
  • CRB certificates will in most cases only be sent to individuals and not to organisations. Organisations will be informed whether the certificates are clear or not, but not sent the actual certificate or any ‘soft information’ about, for example, ongoing invertigations. They will therefore need to decide if they want to see clear certificates, make arrangements to see certificates that contain information and check that they have been presented with a genuine certificate.
  • An update service will be introduced. This will make it possible for CRB checks to be portable (ie they will be able to be transferred from one role or job to another without the need for a new check to be undertaken each time). The update service will not be automatic, which means that the individual will need to sign up to it, and there will be a cost for employees, although no decision has been made about volunteer costs yet.

Teenage girl writingWhat this means for organisations

  • A number of important aspects of the current arrangements for CRB checks and the role of the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) remain the same, including the duty to refer to the ISA anyone who is removed from regulated activity because of a perceived risk that they pose to children or vulnerable adults.
  • Although the definition of regulated activity will change, the eligibility for enhanced CRB checks is unlikely to do so, as organisations will still be  entitled to seek checks on roles that they are currently entitled to check, even if those roles no longer fall within the new definition. However, they will not be entitled to have the barred lists checked for activity that is no longer defined as regulated.
  • Very often, the responsibility will be on organisations themselves to make decisions about whether to seek checks, rather than this being set down in legal guidance. Organisations will need to work out which roles they feel fall within the new definition of regulated activity, for example, and which roles they might want to continue to have checked even though they no longer fall within the definition. They will also need to make sure that they can justify why they are asking for checks, rather than simply being able to argue that it is a legal requirement.
  • As CRB certificates will be issued only to individuals rather than to organisations, there may be occasions when it is difficult for an organisation to get hold of a certificate. Organisations will need to be prepared to respond to such situations and to adapt its systems and procedures to take account of it.

Key dates
September 2012
- first of the changes are expected to come into force, including a revised definition of regulated activity, minimum age 16 for disclosure, the repeal of the ‘brown envelope’ provision and introduction of a higher relevancy test for disclosing police information as part of the CRB certificate.
November 2012 – merger of CRB and ISA to establish the new Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
Spring 2013
– introduction of the new online updating system and single applicant only certificates which will enable greater portability of checks.

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However, we suggest that you keep a close eye on the Home Office website, Department for Education and on bulletins issued by our partner Children England and by sector experts National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA).

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