It’s the job of the Disclosure and Barring Service, along with their sister bodies Disclosure Scotland and Access NI to give employers and voluntary organisations all of the information they need when deciding which applicants to employ. Contrary to popular belief, these bodies no not make recruitment decisions for businesses, or issue certificates with a pass or fail. A DBS certificate will just lay out the information for the recruiters to assess. One of the main roles of the DBS is to manage the Barred Lists, and recently issued figures show that the number of people included on these lists has risen rapidly.
What are Barred Lists?
There are two Barred Lists in the UK, which record the names of people who have been banned from working in regulated activity with adults or children, or both. Regulated activity has a wide definition but usually involves close contact such as in healthcare, or looking after groups of children without parents present, such as in schools or sports clubs. People whose names appear on the Barred Lists are committing a criminal offence if they try to apply for a job which requires a DBS check and involves regulated activity. Employers and voluntary organisations also have a part to play in making sure that people who are on the Barred Lists don’t have the chance to get into a position which involves regulated activity. For most enhanced disclosures, a search of the Barred List is included as standard.
Rising Numbers on Barred Lists
According to the latest figures issued by the DBS, the numbers of people who are included on Barred Lists rose dramatically in 2020-21 compared with 2019-20. In 2019-20, there were just under 78,000 people whose names appeared on at least one of the DBS Barring Lists for children or adults. By the following year, those numbers had risen to almost 82,000, an increase of over 5%.
Reasons for Increase and Implications
It’s fairly difficult to work out what is going on with the increase in numbers, as the DBS does not give a breakdown of the reasons for inclusion for people added to the list. It’s also worth pointing out that this yearly increase is one of the lower levels of increase which the DBS has registered in the years it has been operating. Many umbrella bodies and other industry experts think that the increase might be down to a better awareness of the Barring System.
From the point of view of an employer, the rising number of names included on the Barred Lists serves as a reminder of the importance of checking the background of people thoroughly before employment. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the DBS has experienced often serious delays in processing checks, and the temptation for employers to allow employees to start work before the checks have been completed is obvious. However, this strategy comes with obvious risks. When dealing with positions working with adults, there is the option for a preliminary search of the Barred List under Adult First, but this isn’t an option for the children’s list.