As the entertainment industry starts to open up again after the pandemic, work has resumed on the many films and television series made here in the UK. It’s an industry employing thousands, from the household name actors who are the stars of the show, to the supporting artistes or “extras” who make up the numbers in a crowd scene. But do actors and extras need a DBS check to start work on set?
Levels of Disclosure Check
There are three different levels of DBS check, and a similar scheme for any disclosure checking in Scotland. A basic check is open to anyone and will list the applicant’s current convictions and cautions only. The other two levels of disclosure check – standard and enhanced – are restricted to people working in specific occupations only. Most of these roles either involve financial or legal responsibility (court service, prison officer jobs) or looking after people who could be termed vulnerable or potentially at risk (teachers, nurses, carers for elderly in their own homes).
Do Actors Need DBS Checks?
Acting, or other film and television related roles generally do not fit into the category of regulated activity, and don’t require an enhanced or standard DBS check. As it is against the law for an employer to require a DBS certificate you are not entitled to, then all most actors or extras can get is a basic DBS check. This is still the case if the production has children as cast members. Children on set are supervised at all times either by a parent or an employed chaperone. The job of chaperoning young children on set does fall into the remit of regulated activity, and those roles would qualify for an enhanced DBS check.
Getting a Basic Disclosure Check
There is no legal requirement for production or film companies to run any sort of DBS check on people working for them. Often, extras are recruited at short notice, and there simply isn’t the time to organise DBS certificates for people working on a production.
Many large broadcasters in the UK however have introduced guidelines around getting basic DBS checks done for cast and crew on productions featuring children, whether the young people are chaperoned or not.
Obtaining a basic DBS check is very straightforward. The process involves filling in a form and supplying a range of basic identity documents such as your birth certificate or passport, and something to prove your address, such as a recent bank statement or correspondence from HMRC or a utility company. After your identity has been confirmed, the Disclosure and Barring Service will run checks through their database on your criminal record and disclose only the offences which are not considered as spent under the rehabilitation laws.
There is no legislation which says that employers should pay for a DBS check, so being asked to pay for your own certificate is not necessarily a scam. If you are a supporting artist or actor who is working on several different productions over the course of a year, it might be worth investigating whether you are eligible for the Update service.