One of the biggest misconceptions about DBS checks is that the system is just for people working with children. That’s probably because it was high-profile cases such as the Soham murders which led to the creation of the Disclosure and Barring Service about a decade ago. There is a high level of public awareness about DBS checks, and most people are aware that teachers, nursery workers and people running Scouts or Brownies are affected. However, there’s a lot of confusion about what other jobs need a criminal record check too.
The Scottish system of police checking, called Protecting Vulnerable Groups, perhaps explains better the types of workers which need the most detailed level of checking. Vulnerable groups sums up nicely roles involving not only children but the elderly, disabled adults, people ill in hospital, or people with mental health difficulties. Carers who visit elderly clients at home to help with personal care, or staff in a pharmacy will also need this most detailed check. An enhanced check delves right back into your criminal record and can reveal some very old offences which would be considered spent in other situations.
The “middle” level of disclosure in terms of detail is the standard disclosure. This is probably the least understood type of check. Standard disclosures aren’t about checking up on people who want to work with vulnerable groups. This style of check is more applicable to those working in positions of responsibility. There is a very long list of occupations which require a standard disclosure. This includes jobs working in the court service, accountants, traffic wardens, pub landlords, credit mangers and security guards. For some of these jobs, such as accountants and vets, the check is only done once when the person first enters the profession.
As most of the roles involving standard disclosures are in law or financial services, the DBS check is usually just part of the checking. Most companies in financial services run a credit check too, fact-check CVs and speak to former employers for confirmation of information you’ve given them. Each employer has their own policies about the checks they carry out. The disclosure check might be a legal requirement but the rest of it isn’t; each employer risk assesses positions to work out what sort of vetting they wish to put in place.
How do I know what type of disclosure I need?
The good news is that in most cases it’s not up to you to know what type of disclosure check you need. It’s up to employers to understand the legislation, and work out whether the jobs their employees are doing falls under the definition of “regulated activity”. There is lots of help for employers with this, from both the DBS itself and employers’ organisations. There are also fines for employers who allow staff to work without the required checks, so it is in their interests to get it right.