volunteer 3 - thumbAlasdair Sladen of Community Action Southwark explains how volunteers can get checked to work with vulnerable people.

What is a DBS? The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is a system that helps employers make safer recruitment decisions and prevents unsuitable individuals from working with children, adults at risk and in healthcare settings. A DBS check is often required for voluntary work in these areas. You may be aware of DBS under their old name, Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks.

As a DBS check has no expiry date and as any information included will be only be accurate at the time the check was carried out it is up to the recruiter to decide when a new check is needed. Good Practice in Volunteer Management would be every 2 years.

All DBS check applicants must be 16 or over, which sets a legal restriction on the age individuals can take part in DBS-required activities.

DSB imageVolunteer applications

The DBS definition of a volunteer is defined in the Police Act 1997 Regulations 2002 as, “Any person engaged in an activity which involves spending, unpaid (except for travel and other approved out-of-pocket expenses), doing something which aims to benefit some third party and not a close relative.”

In order to qualify for a free DBS check the applicant must not:

  • Benefit directly from the position for which the DBS application is being submitted
  • Receive any payment other than for travel and approved out-of-pocket expenses
  • Be on a work placement or course
  • Be in a trainee position that will lead to a full time role or qualification

It states on the DBS application form, ‘By placing a cross in the yes box (at section 68) you confirm that the post meets the DBS definition for a free-of-charge volunteer application. Please note that DBS may recover the application fee if box 68 is marked in error and this could result in the cancellation of your DBS registration’.

Bede 34 tayo arm painting - thumbVolunteer Befriender – Eligible

This activity is entirely voluntary, is unpaid and is primarily aimed at providing a service to a third party

Volunteer in a Hospital/Day Centre/School – Eligible

This activity is entirely voluntary, is unpaid and is primarily aimed at providing a service to a third party

Student on placement, as part of their training – Ineligible

This activity is a mandatory course requirement and is primarily undertaken to benefit the student

Individuals volunteering abroad e.g. Gap Year projects – Ineligible

This activity is entirely voluntary and is primarily aimed at providing a service to a third party BUT these persons usually receive payment above and beyond what could be described as travel and approved out-of-pocket expenses.

Want to know more?

If you need further guidance contact DBS customer services at: customerservices@dbs.gsi.gov.uk

cas_logoCommunity Action Southwark

Get in touch with our Community Action Southwark team at: alasdair@casouthwark.org.uk and see the volunteering support available on our VCS web pages here.