What is the Disclosure and Barring Service?
The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) has three main statutory duties:
- to maintain a list of individuals barred from engaging in regulated activity with children and vulnerable adults;
- to make decisions as to whether an individual should be included on one or both barred lists; and
- to reach decisions as to whether to remove an individual from the barred list(s).
In what circumstances are the employers of school/college staff required to make referrals to the DBS?
There are two conditions which must be met to trigger a referral to the DBS. A referral must be made when the employer or some other ‘regulated activity’ provider using the worker’s services
Dismisses or ceases to engage the worker, or would have done so had the worker not resigned, retired or been made redundant;
- they think that the worker has:
- engaged in ‘relevant conduct’;
- satisfied the Harm Test; or
- received a caution or conviction for a ‘relevant offence’.
What is ‘regulated activity’?
Regulated activity is a term used to describe specific activities which involve working with children and vulnerable adults. It includes any form of work paid or voluntarily carried out for the purposes of a setting or establishment which involves contact with children or vulnerable adults on a frequent, intensive or overnight basis. Frequent means once a week or more and intensive means four days or more in a single month.
What is ‘relevant conduct’?
Relevant conduct is defined as:
- conduct which endangered a child and/or vulnerable adult or was likely to endanger a child and/or vulnerable adult;
- conduct which, if repeated against or in relation to a child and/or vulnerable adult, would endanger that child and/or vulnerable adult or would be likely to endanger him or her;
- conduct involving sexual material relating to children;
- conduct involving sexually explicit images depicting violence against human beings;
- conduct of a sexual nature involving a child.
What is ‘risk of harm’?
A risk of harm is said to be present when it appears that a worker may:
- harm a child and/or vulnerable adult;
- cause a child and/or vulnerable adult to be harmed;
- put a child and/or vulnerable adult at risk of harm;
- attempt to harm a child and/or vulnerable adult;
- incite another to harm a child and/or vulnerable adult.
What is a ‘relevant offence’?
A relevant offence is any criminal offence which will, or may, subject to representations, lead to a person being included in a DBS barred list. A list of ‘relevant offences’ is contained in various regulations, including the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (Prescribed Criteria and Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2009 (as amended). The DBS has also produced a factsheet which lists all relevant offences. The factsheet may be found by visiting the DBS website at www.gov.uk/dbs.
What type of offences will amount to relevant offences?
A list of relevant offences is contained in the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (Prescribed Criteria and Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2009 (as amended) and in other regulations too. The regulations contain offences including:
- abuse of position of trust: arranging or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity;
- meeting a child after sexual grooming;
- causing a child to watch a sexual act;
- engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child;
- causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity;
- indecent photographs of children; take, permit or make, possess, distribute or publish an indecent photograph or pseudo photograph of a child;
- abduction of female under 18 with intent to carnally know her;
- act of gross indecency with or towards a child under the age of 16; and
- possession of indecent photographs of children.
Can a school, college or supply agency refer a worker they do not employ to the DBS?
Yes, they can. The DBS will consider all information referred to it from any source in relation to conduct causing concern.
Can a former employer refer a worker who has long since left its employ to the DBS?
Yes, it can if it believes the individual works in regulated activity at another setting.