DBS Checks Protocol

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This protocol is under review, and has not been accepted.

We are currently gathering feedback and editing this protocol, and there may be errors or bad wording. Please only use this protocol with caution, and if other organisations have definitive protocol, use that instead.

Please see #protocols on Slack to discuss this protocol further.

This is the protocol for how DBS checks are carried out for the role of Safeguarding Lead or Deputy Safeguarding Lead (and reserves).

Candidates for the role of Safeguarding Lead or Deputy Safeguarding Lead (and reserves) are asked to undertake a standard DBS check. However, this must only be used to identify concerns about interpersonal harm or abuse of power which would be directly relevant to this role. The process must not discriminate against applicants with any other criminal record, and must be designed to ensure that people with convictions are not deterred from applying.

How information about DBS checks is communicated

When a call-out for the role is posted (see How Safeguarding Leads and Deputy Safeguarding Leads Are Selected), it must include the following information, and must link to this protocol.

  • The role requires a standard DBS check. This lists all previous convictions and cautions, both spent and unspent.[1]
  • Some older convictions/cautions will still be filtered, which means that QueerCare will not be able to view these records. The callout should link to an explanation of this process, e.g. Unlock’s resource.
  • Unlike an Enhanced DBS check, this does not include a request for any additional police intelligence on the candidate. Although the role is eligible for an enhanced check, we have chosen to request only a standard check, to minimise engagement with the police.[2]
  • The application process will only take account of records related to interpersonal harm/abuse of power (e.g. domestic violence or sexual abuse) that would directly affect the person’s suitability for the role. All other records will be disregarded.
  • QueerCare recognises the violent and oppressive nature of the criminal ‘justice’ system and actively welcomes applications from people with other histories of criminalisation.
  • The DBS check will not be carried out until after the Leads/Deputy Leads have been provisionally selected. People who are not selected for the role will not be required to disclose their records.
  • Records belonging to the provisionally selected candidates will be viewed only by the current Safeguarding Leads, their reserves and Deputy Leads.
  • If the candidate does not want a previous legal name to be disclosed on the certificate, they can ask DBS to omit it.
  • We welcome voluntary disclosures during the application process if the candidate feels that their experiences will enhance their ability to carry out the role. For example, a person may feel that their history of being criminalised has shaped their understanding of how the concept of ‘safety’ can be weaponised against marginalised communities. However, this is entirely the applicant’s choice.
  • If a person has a conviction which might cause concern about their suitability for the role, and would like to discuss this in confidence before applying, they can contact the current SLs/DSLs. However, there is no obligation to do so.

The announcement should also offer potential applicants a way to ask anonymous questions about the DBS policy. For example, it could link to a Free Suggestions Box which will be checked by the current Leads/Deputy Leads and responses posted in the general-discuss Slack thread.

How DBS checks are carried out

  • Once a candidate for the role has been provisionally selected (see ‘How Safeguarding Leads and Deputy Leads Are Selected’), they should be asked to give consent for QueerCare to submit a Standard DBS check.
  • They should be informed about the ‘sensitive applications’ process, for people who do not want their former legal name to be disclosed on the certificate. This information should be provided as standard practice, regardless of whether or not the person requests it.
  • They should also be informed about the ‘unusual addresses guidance which indicates how people with a history of homelessness should complete the form.
  • The current Safeguarding Leads or Deputy Safeguarding Leads should request an application form from an umbrella body (they can be found here) and send it to the applicant to fill in.
  • The applicant should be offered any support they need to help them complete the form. They should fill in the form and return it to the SLs/DSLs with the required identification documents.
  • The SLs/DSLs should then send this form to the umbrella body, who will process the check and send the completed certificate to the applicant.
  • The applicant should then show/ send the certificate to the SLs/DSLs who are carrying out the check.
  • If the provisionally-selected candidate knows they have a conviction that might cast doubt on their suitability, they may choose to self-disclose to the SLs/DSLs while waiting for the check to be processed. *This should then be discussed as outlined below.
  • However, candidates should not be required to self-disclose all their convictions/cautions, even when they have been provisionally selected. This might lead them to unnecessarily disclose convictions which would have been filtered from the certificate.
  • This process usually takes around 8 weeks, although can take longer.

How DBS checks are assessed

  • If the record contains any incidents relating to interpersonal abuse or abuse of power (e.g. domestic violence, history of oppressive (racist etc) violence, rape or other sexual abuse), the SLs/DSLs should discuss their concerns with the candidate and ask them to share any other information that might be relevant when assessing how this affects their suitability.
  • The young people’s panel (SLs and SL reserves) and DSLs should then discuss with each other whether or not the candidate should take on the safeguarding role. This discussion should aim to identify whether there is a heightened risk of harm if the person is given this role.
  • Other criminal records must be disregarded.

How DBS data is handled

DBS record files must be destroyed as soon as they become irrelevant, in order to comply with GDPR and to avoid any risk of future discrimination against people with criminal records.

  • The DBS certificate must be returned to the applicant or destroyed as soon as the candidate’s appointment to the role has been confirmed.
  • If a candidate’s DBS check leads to the decision that they should not be appointed, the certificate must be returned to them or destroyed immediately after they have been notified of this.
  1. We are requesting a standard check in order to assess candidates on a more equitable basis. The length of time before a conviction becomes spent is determined by the length of sentence given, not by the nature of the ‘offence’. A basic check, which only includes unspent convictions, would therefore discriminate against applicants who received a longer sentence for the same charge because of systemic bias.
  2. Under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, an Enhanced check can be carried out for roles which involve the provision of advice or guidance for children relating to their ‘physical, emotional or educational wellbeing’. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/804668/Child_workforce_guide_v10_0_28052019.pdf