|What are DBS checks?
DBS checks are the replacement for CRB checks (Criminal Record checks) and are managed by the government’s Disclosure and Barring Service. The checks look at whether a volunteer has a criminal record and if they are on the barred list for certain activities.
When does your organisation do a DBS check for volunteers? For everyone who comes through your door? For people volunteering with children? Not at all – and you’re hoping that’s right?
When should I do DBS checks?
You should have DBS checks as part of your normal recruitment process but only for roles that require it. These are usually roles where a volunteer is supporting children or vulnerable adults. To be eligible for a DBS check, a position must be:
Don’t do blanket checks!
It can be tempting to think that it would be easier to just do DBS checks for all volunteers so everyone is covered. However, this can put off volunteers who feel they may be judged for a criminal record that is not linked to their ability to take up a specific role. Checks are now being refused by the system if they feel that the role does not merit it. Blanket checking can attract a fine of up to £5,000 for regulatory bodies.
How will I know my role needs a DBS check?
To request DBS checks you should be sure that the volunteer role is eligible for checking and that it is necessary. For example, roles with children generally do need a check but might not if they are always supervised.
You should also let the volunteer know that a DBS check will be taking place and why you are doing it.
What are the costs?
DBS checks are free for volunteers but many organisations use an umbrella agency to run their checks, which costs around £7 – £12 per check as an administration fee.
Use as a part of your safeguarding
Simply choosing to use disclosure checks will act as a deterrent to anyone seeking to volunteer in order to abuse the vulnerable. However, this must be part of a wider safeguarding approach, such as interviews, references, trial periods and ongoing supervision and training.
Want to find out more?
Volunteer Centre Greenwich offers training in recruiting and screening volunteers, including using DBS checks appropriately. Contact Stephanie@volunteersgreenwich.co.uk to find out more.