Either as best practice or due to statutory/regulatory obligation, many job roles require police checks such as a DBS check to ensure that the candidate does not have criminal convictions the nature of which would preclude them from taking up a position in a given industry. There are a number of organisations within the UK which exercise this statutory function including the Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS), Disclosure Scotland, and Access NI.
In Screening, Police Checks can mean a number of different checks, but is most frequently used when referring to the statutory function of criminal disclosure performed by three distinct bodies: The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), who cover England & Wales; Disclosure Scotland (DS); and Access Northern Ireland (ANI).
Each of these bodies provides the same fundamental service – issuing disclosures of an individual’s criminal convictions, cautions and reprimands – but do so with varying approaches, according to the obligations, processes and conviction filtering schemes laid out by their relevant country’s own legislation. For instance, where the DBS offer only the Basic, Standard and Enhanced levels of disclosure (revealing Unspent, Spent and Spent + Barred List information respectively), DS offer an additional scheme for the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) which continuously monitors the suitability of individuals to work in regulated settings with vulnerable adults and children. DS informs those organisations who have registered an interest in an individual on the PVG scheme (typically as their employer) if any information comes to light that may render them unsuitable to continue working in such a setting.
Each body also has it’s own filtering rules defined by their governing country’s legislation, meaning the same individual could apply for the same basic level of disclosure in all three countries, and their disclosure could reveal completely different information on each as the differing rehabilitation periods of a past conviction are applied specific to the location in which they live and work at the time. Disclosures from all three bodies can be applied for online either through their own portal or registered umbrella organisations, and turnaround times vary between a few days to a couple of weeks in normal circumstances.
DBS Adult Barred List
The Adult Barred List is a register administered by the Disclosure and Barring Service (previously the Independent Safeguarding Authority & Criminal Records Bureau) of individuals who are barred from working with vulnerable adults. This replaced the Protection of Vulnerable Adults (POVA) list. Inclusion on the list indicates an individual may not work with vulnerable adults in a regulated setting under any circumstances, and any organisation found to be facilitating it - whether employed or voluntary - has committed an offence.
An individual can be placed on the barred list one of three ways: by automatic barring offence, where someone has been newly convicted or cautioned for a serious offence and they are considered for immediate barring; by disclosure, where an individual applies for an enhanced DBS check to work with adults in a regulated setting, and the check returns relevant detail that requires consideration for inclusion on one or both of the barred lists; or by referral, when an employer, volunteer supervisor or other party has concerns that the individual has the potential to, or already has caused harm to vulnerable groups and submits a referral to the DBS.
If you work in Scotland, England and Wales or Northern Ireland then in certain roles you’ll be required to undergo a basic disclosure.
Depending on which of the countries you work in, you will either need to have a basic disclosure from the DBS (England & Wales) Disclosure Scotland (Scotland), or Access NI (Northern Ireland).
There is no specific eligibility for a basic disclosure and individuals can apply for themselves directly with the relevant authority. A basic will reveal any convictions, cautions or reprimands that have not been filtered and are considered spent by the appropriate authority. Basic disclosure turnaround times vary between different statutory authorities & with the suppliers who process checks, you should expect a check to take no more than two weeks.