DBS and Safeguarding: A background

Legal background

In 1999, the government introduced mandatory criminal record checks on all workers with children.  The aim was to prevent paedophiles from gaining access to children. The Protection of Children Act 1999 introduced CRB checks, short for criminal records bureau, which have now become DBS checks for all those who work or volunteer directly with not just children but any vulnerable group. After the terrible murders of two 10 year old girls by Ian Huntly, the government introduced the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 to make sure that even those associated with those who caused children harm, such as Huntley’s girlfriend, could not work with any vulnerable group.

Employing a barred person

After several high profile, horrific cases of child abuse such as the Victoria Climbie and the baby P scandal, the laws regarding child protection have become extremely strict. Since 2010, under the Vetting and Barring Scheme it is an offence :

  • for employers: to knowingly employ a barred person in a regulated activity (such as an out of school club), or to use them as a volunteer;
  • for employees: to work, or seek to work, in regulated activity from which you are barred.

In a nutshell, anyone working directly with children and young people must be checked against the Disclosure and Barring Service. Even regular volunteers must be subjected to a DBS check.  Anyone who has not had a DBS check may not be left alone with children in a regulated setting, without the presence of a DBS vetted member of staff or volunteer. Failure to follow these laws results in a £5,000 fine and up to 5 years imprisonment or potentially both. Child protection is taken extremely seriously under British law. There are severe penalties in place for barred persons who apply for a restricted job.

Legal duty to refer

Employers also have a duty to refer. There have been several unfortunate cases of abuse continuing unchecked because employees and involved agencies did not refer the person to the DBS and simply fired them.

  • It is an offence for employers to dismiss or cease using a person in a regulated activity because it is thought they have harmed or will pose a risk of harm to children or vulnerable adults without referring the case to the DBS.

What sort of behaviour or conduct must be reported to the DBS? Any activity or behaviour which:

  • endangers, or is likely to endanger, a child or vulnerable adult
  • if repeated against a child or vulnerable adult, would endanger them or would be likely to endanger them
  • involves sexual material relating to children (including possession of such material)
  • involves sexually explicit images depicting violence against human beings (including possession of such images), if it appears to the DBS that the conduct is inappropriate
  • is of a sexual nature involving a child or vulnerable adult, if it appears to the DBS that the conduct is inappropriate.

Protection of Freedoms Act 2012

The protection of freedoms act in 2012 made changes to the length of time that information can be kept, this means that after a certain time period, certain information is no longer disclosed and will not affect employability. The key changes in the new Protection of Freedoms Act are:

  • the CRB and ISA have been merged and are now known as the “Disclosure & Barring Service” In a nutshell both the criminal records and child abuse records have been combined so an individual can be checked for all information relating both to adult and child abuse.
  • Employees can transfer a DBS from one employment to another, eliminating the need for several DBS checks on the same person.
  • the DBS continues to bar but only for regulated activities
  • barring does not apply to other activities
  • introduction of basic checks for all posts except regulated activities
  • only the applicant now receives the DBS disclosure. 

What should employers do?

There is a legal obligation on employers to make sure a DBS check was performed on all workers in regulated activities who work regularly with children. Employers must be careful to ensure that they appoint the safest workers for children or vulnerable adults.

Applicant-only DBS certificates and the DBS Update service

In 2013, the DBS check became incumbent upon the employee, which means that they need to apply for their own DBS and present it to employers, shifting the responsibility. It also means that for as long as the DBS is valid (generally 3 years although technically there is no end date) the employee can present the same DBS to all employers.

Only one DBS certificate will be issued per application. This certificate will be sent to the applicant’s current address as they provided on their application form.

All employers should make sure their employers are obliged to present them with their DBS check in a reasonable amount of time.

By becoming a member of ICAP you’re joining a community of like-minded professionals and business owners in the children’s activity sector working towards excellence

Pip Wilkins

Pip Wilkins is the Chief Executive of the British Franchise Association (bfa). With 25 years’ experience in the franchise sector, Pip has worked her way up within the Association, gaining insight from all areas of the business and the franchise industry. She is well-known and highly regarded in franchising for her dedication and depth of knowledge. Pip regularly speaks at conferences and seminars both domestically and internationally, as well as writing on franchising matters for national, local and franchising trade press. Pip is also a regular judge for the annual bfa HSBC Franchise Awards, the Franchise Marketing Awards and Global Franchise Awards. Pip represents the UK at both the European Franchise Federation (EFF) and World Franchise Council (WFC). The bfa has grown to be one of the largest franchise associations in Europe, and one of the most successful associations in the world.

Theo Millward

Theo Millward is a graduate of Lancaster University with a BBA in Management. In 2016 Theo purchased UK swim school, Swimtime from the founders which teaches 20,000 children a week. Following a multi-award- winning digital transformation, during the global pandemic, Theo and his team founded Franscape, a saas that digitally transforms Franchise brands. FranScape won New Business of the Year at the UK Business Awards.

Andy Georgiou

Andy is the Founder of ICAP and a leading UK Franchise Business Consultant. He is fiercely committed to helping children’s activity providers build successful and profitable businesses. With qualifications in Business Management, Digital Media and Marketing, he has helped build, advise and grow leading 6 and 7 fiqure children’s education, sports and activity brands in the past 17 years.

Frank Sahlein

Frank has been active in the Children’s Activity Center industry as an athlete, coach, business owner, consultant and business broker. He is a native of San Mateo, California and graduated from San Jose State University in California (USA).
Frank was a pioneer of the Children’s Learning Opportunity Center concept from 1976 – 2016 at the Wings Center in Boise, Idaho (USA) – a blend of Sports Instruction, Arts, Education, Entertainment and Outreach programs.
As a business management innovator, Frank has delivered over 1,000 presentations for a variety of Children’s Activity Center industries such as gymnastics, swimming, cheerleading, dance, martial arts/ninja and child care/education.
3rd Level Consulting is a Business Development and Service Provider Partner for private industry companies, associations, and organizations in the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Panama.
Two-time recipient of the National Business Leader Award from USA Gymnastics, Frank is the author of “Building Your Business Potential” and “Designing Your Empowered Life”. He is the creator of the SmartEDGE™ Business Applications and Management Certification Courses. He is the co-founder of LEAP Learning and the MetaSpheres Corp, and is the founder and Executive Director of the International Association of Child Development Programs.
His passions include his beautiful wife Lourdes Gonzalez, family, friends, fitness training, transformational reading and travel.