DBS checks

The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) is now called the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) - CRB checks are now known as DBS checks.

Schools and colleges should have written recruitment and selection procedures and a policy covering these areas. Where a job applicant will be working with young people under 18, it is mandatory for employers to obtain enhanced disclosures from the DBS before the appointment is made.

Schools and colleges must also request full details of DBS checks carried out on staff supplied through an agency. They must see the DBS disclosure where it contains information and make sure that these checks are contained in the central record.

Checks (in addition to DBS) are made on those who have lived or worked outside the UK in circumstances where the DBS enhanced disclosure is not considered sufficient.

Sources of information

The main sources of DBS information are the police national computer, a centralised information point for police forces in England and Wales, local police force records, and those held by the government of people considered unsuitable to work with children or vulnerable adults. Records held in Scotland and Northern Ireland can also be accessed.

Applying for disclosure

If you are successful in a job application, you will most likely be asked to apply to the DBS for an enhanced disclosure, the most stringent check provided by the DBS  It will show spent and unspent convictions and cautions. It might also contain additional information that local police forces consider should be included relating to, for example, acquittals and 'non-conviction information'.

You will then have to sign the original copy of the enhanced disclosure, which you will retain, and a copy will be sent to the body registered with the DBS - likely to be LEAs (rather than individual maintained schools), diocesan authorities, independent schools, supply teacher agencies, academies and further and higher education institutions.

This process should apply only to applicants for jobs: existing staff should not be asked to obtain a disclosure, except where there are grounds for concern about an individual's suitability to work with children. The DBS has undertaken to provide 90 per cent of enhanced disclosures within four weeks of receiving the completed application form. If you encounter delays, please contact ATL's London office.

Confidentiality

It is a criminal offence to make an unauthorised disclosure of information in an enhanced disclosure. However, information can be passed from an LEA to a school's governing body and may be shared with members of the governing body for the purposes of their duties.

The CRB drew up a code of practice which includes clear guidance on the handling of disclosure information. The code has yet to be branded with the DBS logo but should be adhered to. Organisations using the enhanced disclosure service must comply with this, as does anybody who receives enhanced disclosure information.

The code of practice is intended to ensure that the information released will be used fairly. It also seeks to ensure that sensitive personal information is handled and stored appropriately and is kept for only as long as is necessary (usually not more than six months).

The code of practice states that disclosure information should only be used in the context of a policy on the recruitment of ex-offenders, designed to protect applicants from unfair discrimination on the basis of non-relevant past convictions.

Organisations must use disclosure information fairly, and ensure that it is handled and stored appropriately. They must also satisfy the DBS that they are complying with the code of practice, which means undergoing DBS assurance checks and reporting any suspected malpractice.

Need further advice?

Your first point of contact is your ATL rep in your school or college. Your local ATL branch is also available to help with queries, or you can contact ATL's member advisors on tel: 020 7930 6441 or email us. Please have your membership number to hand when telephoning and include it with any correspondence - this will help us to answer your query more quickly.

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