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DBS checks

Disclosure and Barring Service (or DBS) checks – which replaced the Criminal Records Bureau (or CRB) checks in 2013 – are sometimes required for volunteers working directly with specific groups of people in particular situations. They ensure that everyone working with these groups in these situations has the legal clearance to do so, and that they are no endangering themselves or others by doing so.

 

Not all volunteers require a DBS check. Some organisations are over-zealous in checking their volunteers and will sometimes insist that they undergo a DBS check when the role they have applied for is ineligible for such a check – this is illegal. Volunteers can challenge the need for a DBS check and the organisation must, if asked by the DBS, submit evidence detailing why they believe the role in question is eligible for a DBS check. Here are some important points to note:

 

  • Individuals cannot apply themselves for a DBS check. It is the charity’s responsibility to apply for a DBS check on your behalf.
  • Only volunteers over the age of 16 are able to undergo a DBS check. This may prevent younger individuals from volunteering in some situations (though many charities have their own policies about accepting younger volunteers).
  • A DBS check may be mandatory for certain roles. These instances will be covered in the existing legislation and guidance relating to the sector of work in which the charity is involved. The charity should be able to identify this legislation.
  • DBS checks are not always necessary, even though the role may be eligible for one. They can provide a barrier to volunteering and may take up to six weeks to be processed.
  • However, an organisation may insist that their volunteers undergo a DBS check as a matter of organisational policy, even if it is not strictly required, providing the role is eligible for one.
  • An individual can refuse to undergo a DBS check, although this may obviously preclude that individual from volunteering, whether due to legal or organisational requirements.
  • DBS checks are free of charge for volunteers. The processing of a check may incur an administration fee, though this should be covered by the charity. The additional cost of the check will be covered by the taxpayer.

 

DBS checks are, in many cases, not strictly required for voluntary roles and the need for them can be reduced by measures such as effective recruitment techniques, good management, training, monitoring and supervision. They are also not a failsafe approach to safeguarding volunteers and the charity’s beneficiaries, and the charity should perform replacement or additional checks on their volunteers if necessary.

 

If you require additional information, please click here to access official government guidance and regulations around DBS checks.

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Jewish Volunteering Network

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020 8203 6427 (London & Herts)

07587 792 272 (Manchester)

info@jvn.org.uk

manchester@jvn.org.uk

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