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.
Its statutory responsibilities include:
- processing requests for criminal records checks as defined by Part V of the Police Act 1997; for applications made in England and Wales.
- deciding whether it is appropriate for a person to be placed on or removed from a barred list under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006
- maintaining the DBS children's barred list and the DBS adults' barred list for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006: sets out a framework for the scope and operation of the Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS).
Part V of the Police Act (1997): Established the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB).
The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012: Gives effect to the coalition government's commitment to balance the need to protect vulnerable groups including children with the need to protect civil liberties; Part 5 of the Act covers the safeguarding of vulnerable groups; criminal records; the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), and disregarding convictions and cautions for consensual gay sex.
- Standard DBS Checks: contains details of all spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings from the Police National Computer (PNC).
- Enhanced DBS Checks:The enhanced check is available for those carrying out certain activities or working in regulated activity with children or adults; applicants for gaming and lottery licences; and judicial appointments. It contains the same PNC information as the standard check but also includes a check of police records held locally.
- DBS Enhanced Check for Regulated Activity:An enhanced check with barring lists is only available for those individuals who are in regulated activity. It contains the same PNC information and check of police records held locally as an enhanced check but in addition will check against the children's and/or adults barring lists.
There are now only six types of activity which can be classed as regulated activity relating to adults:
- Healthcare- Regulated health care professionals, e.g. doctors.
- Personal Care - Eating or drinking, toileting, washing or bathing, dressing, oral care, or the care of skin, hair or nails.
- Social Work - Social work required in connection with health or social services provided by a social care worker (section 55 Care Standards Act 2000).
- Assistance with Household Affairs - Cash, bills or shopping.
- Assistance with conduct of a person's own affairs - Power of Attorney, Mental Capacity Advocates and receiving payments under the Social Security Administration Act 1992.
- Conveying an Adult- To or from places where they will receive health care, personal care or social work.
- Local Authorities- As defined in section 1 of the Local Authorities (Goods and Services) Act 1970 (c.39)
- Keepers of Registers- Regulators as defined in our legislation, also known as competent bodies, e.g. the General Medical Council (GMC)
- Supervisory Authorities- Generally inspectors, defined in our legislation, e.g. the Care Quality Commission or Ofsted
There is a legal responsibility on the employer to report to the DBS. It may be appropriate to remind employers of their responsibilities in certain situations within this area and the need to consult with their human resources team on the appropriateness of a DBS referral. Adult social care staff should take care not to formally recommend referrals to the DBS. Where appropriate they should report their concerns to their employer or human resources team. It is a matter for the employer following their organisation's disciplinary/human resources processes.
Where it is felt the employer may not be inclined to refer without good reason, it will be appropriate for the council to pass on its concerns and information to the DBS. As stated earlier, it is the employer's legal responsibility to appropriately refer and should they neglect to do this without good reason, the DBS will want to take this up with the agency.
An employer will need to refer someone to the DBS, where it is clear that their employee has harmed a vulnerable adult and the nature of the incident/their behaviour leads them to conclude the employee is not suitable to work in the sector. This is likely to apply when the behaviour of the employee has been sufficiently serious to warrant their dismissal from the service and needs to be prevented from working in the future in the care sector. Where an employee is dismissed in connection with any ill treatment of a vulnerable adult it is the responsibility of the employer to report the facts to the DBS. Where the employer is uncertain they must contact the DBS for advice as well as consulting with their own HR advisers.If the DBS are satisfied that the evidence shows that the ex-employee is unsuitable, they are placed on a barred list. This list should be checked by all employers when recruiting a new employee. It is an offence to work in the care sector if you are on the barred list.For most cases, the DBS only has the power to bar a person who is, has been, or might in the future engage in regulated activity
There are processes whereby the ex-employee can appeal against being on the barred list. Safeguarding minutes could be requested by the DBS in order to make a fair decision. Councils should normally cooperate with any requests from the DBS although they will need to check minutes for any information they would not wish disclosing to the ex-employee. Redacting certain information may be necessary and this can be discussed with the adult safeguarding unit and/ or DBS.
Other professional bodies have:
- professional standards that their members are expected to adhere to,
- disciplinary processes which can disbar members from eligibility to practice,
- lists of who is registered which can be checked against in cases where there is any doubt regarding an individual's qualifications to practice.
Where serious concerns are identified regarding an individual health or social work professional's suitability, it may be appropriate to refer or consult with the relevant professional body in addition to reporting to the DBS. Concerns could relate to an individual's practice, their mental health, or involvement as a perpetrator in a safeguarding matter.
The main professional bodies are as follows:
- Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) regulates 16 health professions:
- Art therapists
- Biomedical scientists
- Clinical scientists
- Hearing aid dispensers
- Occupational therapists
- Operating department practitioners
- Practitioner psychologists (e.g. Clinical psychologists)
- Prosthetists and orthotists
- Social workers in England
- Speech and language therapists
- General Medical Council (GMC)regulates doctors, including GPs.
- The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)
- The General Dental Council (GDC)
- The Royal Pharmaceutical Society
- General Optical Council (GOC)
Currently there is no regulatory body responsible for the regulation of social care (unqualified) care staff. This an issue that has been considered and it could become necessary to register at some point in the future.
A code of conduct and national minimum standards, including competencies and training requirements in respect of social care staff have been recently published by Skills for Care.
On occasion, information about an individual workers private life may be highlighted which may raise questions about their suitability to work in a health or social care setting.
Below are some examples:
- A worker is cautioned following an incident of violence or drug possession or dishonesty or drink driving.
- A worker has had their children removed from their care due to physical abuse.
- A worker is understood to be a perpetrator of domestic violence.
Where information about a worker's private life does raise issues, this information should be passed to the adult safeguarding unit who will assess the information and take appropriate actions if necessary.
Details of all the latest news from Salford Safeguarding Adults Board.