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Recruitment and Selection of Potential Employees and Volunteers


Before an organisation considers asking a person to apply for a criminal record check through the Disclosure and Barring Service, they are legally responsible for ensuring that they are entitled to submit an application for the job role. See A Guide to Eligibility for Criminal Record Checks.

For further details on recruitment of employees to posts involving regular contact with children, see the Council’s Recruitment and Selection Procedures or contact the Human Resources Section. 

Guidance is available from the Guidance for Safer Working Practice for those Working with Children and Young People in Education Settings (October 2015).

See also Keeping Children Safe in Education, DfE.

This guidance applies to everyone employed in a role (paid or volunteer) within an organisation working with children who is likely to be seen by the children as a safe and trustworthy adult. These are not only people who regularly come into contact with children, or who will be responsible for children, as a result of their work. They are also people who regularly work in places such as a children’s centre or youth and community project where children are present, whose role is a support function (e.g. administration, catering, care taking, gardening, electrician). The latter people may not have direct contact with children as a part of their job, but they are also likely to be seen as safe and trustworthy because of their regular presence in the workplace and may have access to personal and sensitive data relating to children.

Disclosure and Barring Service Checks

(See the Disclosure and Barring Service website.) 

Certain posts and voluntary work are subject to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (as amended 2013). These include the following Regulated Activities’ (see also Regulated Activity in Relation to Children: Scope (DfE))

  1. Unsupervised activities: teaching, training, instructing, caring for or supervising children, or providing advice/guidance on well-being, or driving a vehicle only for children;
  2. Work for a limited range of establishments (‘specified places’),with opportunity for contact with children: for example, schools/colleges, children’s homes, childcare premises. Not work by supervised volunteers.

Work under (i) or (ii) is Regulated Activity only if done regularly:

  1. iii. Relevant Personal Care, for example washing or dressing; or health care by or supervised by a professional;
  2. iv. Registered child-minding; and foster-carers.

(Personal Care includes helping a child, for reasons of age, illness or disability, with eating or drinking, or in connection with toileting, washing, bathing and dressing. Health care means care for children provided by, or under the direction or supervision of, a regulated health care professional.)

Disclosure of convictions, cautions, bind-overs which they have received should be requested on the job application form. Any such details must be declared even if they would be considered ‘spent’ in other circumstances. If a person who has made such disclosures is selected for appointment, they should ask be asked to apply for an Enhanced DBS Disclosure to verify their declarations.  Note that, since 29 May 2013, certain old and minor cautions and convictions are no longer subject to disclosure – see the Disclosure and Barring Service Filtering Guide.

Commencing Employment Awaiting DBS Disclosure

If a person is on the Disclosure and Barring Service's Children Barred List details of this will be included on an Enhanced DBS Disclosure, provided the appropriate box has been ticked on the DBS application form. A separate check of the Disclosure and Barring Service's Children Barred List will not be necessary unless the DBS Disclosure has not been received at the commencement of employment. In such a situation further information can be obtained from (telephone 01325 392 101). If employment is commenced before the DBS Disclosure is obtained, the new member of staff/volunteer may need supervision when working with children, depending on what is already known about them, their previous experience and level of responsibility. If little is known about them and references have provided limited information the level of supervision prior should be high. For those with more experience, and comprehensive satisfactory references the level of supervision may be less.

Whatever level of supervision is required should be planned at the commencement of employment, communicated to the new member of staff/volunteer as to the level of supervision, why this is necessary and who will be the supervisor. This should be reviewed every two weeks until the Disclosure is received.

Portability of DBS Disclosures

Some organisations, e.g. CYPD, SCC, only accept checks that have been carried out, and by them, e.g. in the last three years with no break in service longer than three months. A new check would also be required if there is a significant change in duties or level of access to children. Therefore in such cases, portability of DBS Disclosures is not acceptable.

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) states that portability should be restricted to working with children, or working with Adults at Risk, but not transferable between the two areas. Otherwise, portability of DBS Disclosures should be at the discretion of the organisation. There may be circumstances, e.g. for volunteers or agency workers, when DBS Disclosures may have already recently been obtained by other organisations. It is recommended that if all other checks prove satisfactory i.e. comprehensive references and evidence of identity then, if a DBS Disclosure has been obtained and seen, there is no requirement to obtain a new one. However, it is recommended that the Counter signatory on the Disclosure should be contacted to confirm that there has been no information of concern regarding the candidate since it was obtained. Disclosure and Barring Service Children Barred List should be consulted in such circumstances.

It should be noted that the Disclosure and Barring Service state that organisations accepting previously obtained Disclosures do so at their own risk. Also a comprehensive risk assessment, as outlined above, should be undertaken.

Disclosure and Barring Service Update Service

An optional online Update Service is operated by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), designed to reduce the number of DBS checks requested.

Instead of a new criminal records/Barred Lists check being necessary whenever an individual applies for a new paid or voluntary role working with children/Adults at Risk, individuals can opt to subscribe to the online Update Service. This will allow them to keep their criminal record certificate up to date, so that they can take it with them from role to role, within the same workforce.

Employers do not need to register, but can carry out free, instant, online status checks of a registered individual’s status. A new DBS check will only be necessary if the status check indicates a change in the individual’s status (because new information has been added).

DBS Disclosures for Visitors

It is not required to obtain DBS Disclosures for visitors who will only have contact with children on an ad hoc or irregular basis for short time periods. But it is recommended that they sign in and out of visitor books, and are accompanied whilst on the premises by a member of staff or volunteer.

Examples of people who do not need DBS Disclosures are:

  • Visitors to the organisation, who have brief contact with children and will be accompanied by a member of staff or volunteer;
  • Visitors or contractors who come on site to carry out repairs or maintenance and who will not be in the company of children unsupervised;
  • Volunteers, including parents, who accompany staff on one off trips, outings, or events e.g. sports days, school fetes etc that do not include overnight stays;
  • Children under the age of 18 who are undertaking work placements in another establishment e.g. in a school. However, there may be some exceptions as some children do have criminal records. The placing organisation should ensure that the child is suitable for the placement and the host establishment is entitled to ask for evidence of a check if there is any concern;
  • People who are on site after hours, when children are not on the premises e.g. cleaners, or people.


Volunteers make up a huge part of the children’s workforce and are seen by children as safe and trustworthy adults. If an organisation is actively seeking volunteers and is considering candidates about whom it knows little, it should adopt the same recruitment measures as it would for paid staff. Where an organisation approaches a person who is well known to them to take on a particular role, a shorter procedure can be adopted. This includes gaining references, checking to make sure others in the community have no concerns and can make a positive recommendation, conducting an informal interview to be clear about the person’s suitability and obtaining a DBS disclosure. When applying for a standard or enhanced DBS check, whether for paid or voluntary positions, it is necessary to consider if the position applied for is eligible – see the DBS Eligibility Criteria.

Organisations may also wish to consider the completion of a risk assessment as a matter of good practice in such cases. Where a volunteer’s role will be a one-off, such as accompanying staff and children on a day outing or helping at an event, these measures would be unnecessary provided that the person is not to be left alone and unsupervised in charge of children. If volunteers are to be recruited by another organisation, suitable assurances should be obtained from that organisation that the person has been recruited and vetted in line with this guidance.

All existing and potential employees who will have regular or unsupervised contact with children through their employment with the Council must be appointed using the Council’s recruitment and selection guidelines, in conjunction with the additional measures set out below:

  • Following interview and prior to appointment, a DBS disclosure application form must be completed by the applicant or volunteer and returned to the Human Resources Section. Appointments may only be confirmed following clearance by the DBS;
  • Any sports-specific coaches should produce up to date national governing body coaching certificates at the time of interview;
  • References, one of which must be from the applicant’s previous employer, must be taken up in writing. Confirmation of employment dates for the last three years is also required;
  • All staff who fall into the above categories shall have their clearance renewed after a two-year period and if an individual is unwilling to undergo a check, the offer of employment should be withdrawn.

To qualify for a free-of-charge volunteer check, the applicant must not:

  • Benefit financially from the position for which the DBS application is being submitted;
  • Receive any payment (except for travel and other approved out-of-pocket expenses);
  • Be on a work placement;
  • Be in a trainee position or undertaking a course of study that will lead to a full time role/qualification;
  • Be a paid foster carer or a member of a foster carer household.

Levels of Disclosure

  • Enhanced Disclosure relates to particularly sensitive areas of work, for example that involving unsupervised contact with children, or posts that require gaming, betting or lottery licences. As well as containing the same information as the Standard Disclosure, Enhanced Disclosure may also contain any non-conviction information from local police records that is considered relevant.

A full list of all posts that must be the subject of DBS checks will be held by Human Resources.

Further information on DBS checks can be found in the Recruitment and Selection Guidelines.

Regulated Activity

‘Regulated Activity’ is work which involves close and unsupervised contact with vulnerable groups including children, and which cannot be undertaken by a person who is on the Disclosure and Barring Service's Barred List. 

DBS Eligibility Criteria has been updated to cover the new term of ‘Work with Children’ Enhanced DBS checks will be undertaken where the activities will fall within the definition of Work with Children or Regulated Activity. The concept of Work with Children includes, but is wider than, Regulated Activity. The term has been adopted by the DBS to give a single definition of roles which will be subject to an Enhanced check, which were previously dealt with under various provisions. The term does not alter the relevant activities, it merely clarifies the situation.

See the DBS Eligibility Criteria.

The concept was introduced by the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 as part of the Vetting and Barring Scheme. Under the scaled-back Vetting and Barring Scheme (as set out in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012), the definition of ‘Regulated Activity’ is narrowed so as to reduce the type and number of activities falling within it. It is designed to cover those activities which provide the highest levels of risk arising from the nature of the post and access to vulnerable people.

There is a duty on a ‘regulated activity provider’ to ascertain whether a person is barred before permitting that person to engage in Regulated Activity.

It is a criminal offence for a barred individual to take part in Regulated Activity, or for an employer/voluntary organisation knowingly to employ a barred person in a Regulated Activity role.