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Disclosure and Barring Service

On 1 December 2012 the Criminal Records Bureau and Independent Safeguarding Authority merged to become the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). The primary role of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is to help employers make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups including children.


The DBS searches police records and, in relevant cases, barred list information, and then issues a DBS certificate to the applicant and employer to help them make an informed recruitment decision.

The checking service currently offers two levels of DBS check; standard and enhanced. The order allows for applications to be submitted to a standard level. To qualify for the higher level of DBS check, the position must also meet one of the criteria set out in The Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) Regulations.

Checks for eligible volunteers are free of charge.

An employer or organisation must not apply for a check unless the job or role is eligible for one. They must tell the applicant why they’re being checked, and where they can get independent advice.


Part of the role of the DBS is to help prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups including children.

Referrals are made to the DBS when an employer or an organisation, for example, a regulatory body, has concerns that a person has caused harm or poses a future risk of harm to vulnerable groups including children. In these circumstances the employer legally must or regulatory body may, make a referral to the DBS.


The DBS is committed to ensuring that we make fair, consistent and thorough barring decisions that are an appropriate response to the harm that has occurred and to the risk of harm posed.

A new test for regulated activity has been introduced which means the DBS can only bar a person from working within regulated activity with children or adults if we believe the person is or has been, or might in the future be, engaged in regulated activity. The only exception to this is where a person is cautioned or convicted for a relevant (automatic barring) offence and is not eligible to submit representations against their inclusion in a barred list.

To find out more about the DBS, please visit the Home Office website

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