The Disclosure and Barring service (DBS) aims to provide employers with a quick and effective vetting and barring service. All disclosures about potential employees for work with children and vulnerable persons must be at an enhanced level.

The Safeguarding and Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 and Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 set out the foundation for the DBS. This Service has an Independent Barring Board (IBB) with responsibility for taking barring decisions on new referrals and the management of two barred lists which replaced List 99, Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) and Protection of Vulnerable Adults (POVA)Lists.

The DBS combines a criminal records checking and barring function:

  • The barring part of the DBS will provide caseworkers, who receive and process referrals about individuals who have harmed or who pose a risk of harm to children, young people or vulnerable adults.
  • The checking part of the DBS will allow employers to check and access the criminal record history of people working, or applying to work (whether paid or unpaid) in certain positions, especially those that involve working with children and vulnerable adults.

The DBS website provides a range of advice, guidance and relevant forms.


All organisations engaging people in ‘Regulated Activities‘ must have robust and transparent recruitment procedures in place to ensure children, young people and vulnerable adults are safeguarded and they should be familiar with the Local Safeguarding Children Board policies and procedures. Read more on this here

Other relevant information can be found here: Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015

Before recruiting staff and volunteers (whether paid or unpaid), the following must be considered:

  • The application process must include the organisations commitment to safeguarding in for example the Job Description and any other documentation
  • Thorough checks must be made of an applicant’s identity, work history and references including any gaps in employment/time;
  • Proof of qualifications must be obtained
  • Checks with the Disclosure and Barring Service must be undertaken including checks against the DBS Barred Lists
  • A probationary period and supervision of the person must take place;
  • References must be obtained and verified by telephone

You can read more on this at the south West Child Protection Procedures website (SWCPP).

The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (SVGA) places a legal duty on Regulated Activity providers (employers, volunteer managers and personnel suppliers) to refer any person who has:

  • Harmed or poses a risk of harm to a child or vulnerable adult
  • Satisfied the harm test or received a caution or conviction for a relevant offence

Under the provisions of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act, 2006, the following groups have a power to make a referral to the DBS:

  • Local authorities (safeguarding role)
  • Education and library boards
  • Health and social care (HSC) trusts (NI)
  • Keepers of registers eg General Medical Council, Nursing and Midwifery Council
  • Supervisory authorities eg Care Quality Commission, Ofsted

Further information and guidance, including factsheets and instructions can be found in the DBS referrals guidance and Making Safeguarding Referrals to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) leaflet.


If the person to be referred to the DBS is a teacher in England consideration should also be given to refer the case to the Teaching Agency. The Teaching Agency is an Executive Agency of the Department for Education, responsible for the regulation of teachers in respect of serious misconduct.
Find out more at the Teaching Agency’s website.