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Education e-briefing: DBS checks - navigating an increasingly complex system

  • United Kingdom
  • Education - Briefings


For many institutions, conducting DBS checks is a necessary part of day-to-day administration and many courses require students to conduct placements and engage in other activities for which it would be assumed that a DBS check would be required.

However, the dividing line between circumstances when a: standard; enhanced; or enhanced with barred list check can be requested is often not entirely clear to those requesting the checks nor those who are responsible for counter-signing the requests.

Furthermore, in recent years there has been a concerted effort to scale-back the DBS regime in response to concerns that the existing regime was disproportionate and resulted in people being subjected to unnecessary DBS checks.

As such, institutions may have been experiencing resistance from the DBS when applying for checks, particularly when applying for enhanced checks, or enhanced with barred list checks. This could be due to the institution having provided insufficient information as to the nature of the role the individual will be performing, or failing to demonstrate why a particular role is eligible for the level of check requested.

In some cases, the level of DBS check requested may not be permissible, resulting in the DBS rejecting the request.

It is important to bear in mind that where an institution knowingly requests a level of DBS check that is not permissible for that particular role, the institution could be committing a criminal offence. Whilst isolated instances of incorrect requests are unlikely to result in any adverse consequences, the DBS are taking steps to “crack-down” on institutions that routinely request checks to which they are not entitled.

In the January 2017 edition of the DBS newsletter, which can be found at the link below, the DBS indicate that they will be conducting an increasing number of audits which will be based on an institution’s completion of a self-assessment questionnaire followed by a more detailed questionnaire that seeks to gauge how well the institution’s processes comply with the DBS code of conduct. In addition, the DBS will be conducting on-site audits to assess a registered provider’s compliance with the code of conduct, including the scale of any inappropriate requests for enhanced checks and enhanced with barred list checks. Ultimately, an institution could lose its DBS registration, and therefore its entitlement to directly request DBS checks, if the DBS considers that its actions are persistently non-compliant with the DBS code of conduct.

For more information on this topic, or to discuss any requirements you may have for in-house training on the DBS regime, and in particular when a barred list check can and cannot be requested, please contact:

For more information contact

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