When we use the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

We use DBS checks to help assess the suitability of applicants and staff for some roles.

About the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

The DBS is an executive agency of the Home Office, and its primary purpose is to help employers make safer recruitment decisions and appointments. By conducting checks and providing details of criminal records and other information (the disclosure report), the DBS will help identify applicants who may be unsuitable for certain roles and positions, especially those involving contact with children or other vulnerable groups.

When criminal convictions are considered

For all vacancies the University advertises, the application process includes declaring any ‘unspent’ criminal convictions, as defined in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. However, where the post involves regulated activity or otherwise requires a criminal records check, the University is entitled to make enquiries about the applicant’s entire criminal record and will seek a disclosure through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) to do this.

Any role that involves regulated activity will also require a check of the DBS Barred Lists, which list people barred from working within regulated activity. It is a criminal offence for the University to knowingly employ a barred individual to undertake regulated activity. The government provide a current list of spent and unspent conviction periods.

Having a criminal record will not necessarily bar an applicant from working for the University. The nature of a disclosed conviction and its relevance to the post in question will be considered as outlined in the procedure for recruiting staff with criminal convictions. This procedure applies irrespective of how the University becomes aware of an applicant’s criminal convictions and includes self-disclosure by the applicant, DBS disclosure and checks of the DBS Barred Lists.

Disclosing a conviction

If a conviction has been disclosed in an individual’s application for a role at the University, a discussion will take place after the interview regarding the offence and its relevance to the position as outlined in in the procedure for recruiting staff with criminal convictions.

All staff are required to disclose criminal convictions acquired during employment at the University which may be relevant to their position or that relate to violence, assault, or damage to property. Disclosure should be made confidentially to the line manager who will consider the effect of the offence on the employee’s post as outlined in the procedure for how we respond to criminal convictions of current staff.

Examples of convictions relevant to positions include a driving offence for a role requiring driving; theft or fraud for a Finance position; and convictions relating to vulnerable groups if working in regulated activity. Disclosures relating to vulnerable groups will be referred to a University of Bristol Safeguarding contact who will consider whether a referral to the DBS is necessary.

Roles that require a DBS check

The University is only permitted and required to carry out a DBS check for roles engaged in regulated activity or otherwise identified in relevant legislation as prescribed in the DBS guidance on types of check. The Resourcing team has worked with Schools and Departments to identify roles that require a DBS check in line with this guidance. These roles are formally flagged as requiring a DBS check as part of the recruitment process and role holders will require re-checks every three years whilst in post.

Where a role has some limited, short-term or supervised contact with children or adults at risk of harm – for example, work experience placements, summer schools, undertaking normal teaching duties or carrying out standard outreach activities – it is unlikely to require a DBS check.

DBS disclosure for University clinical staff who have an honorary contract with an NHS University of Bristol site for their clinical responsibilities will be obtained by that organisation rather than the University. If an individual requires an NHS Research Passport (which includes a DBS check) to undertake research involving the NHS, guidance can be found on the Research and Enterprise Development (RED) webpages.

For more information on circumstances that might require a DBS check, contact the Resourcing Manager.

DBS checks for existing staff

Sometimes staff will change role through internal job transfer, promotion, or secondment to a role requiring a DBS check. They will go through the same complete the same process of identity and address verification and DBS check as new employees

Staff in roles that need a DBS check must re-check every three years. When their re-check is due, the Employee Services Hub will send staff a link to complete a check with Verifile.

DBS Update Service

Staff can join the DBS Update Service if they are likely to require another check in the future. If they are already registered with the service, they should contact the Employee Services Hub to confirm their permission to the University to use the service for their check.

International recruitment

Information returned from DBS will only cover time spent in the UK. For international new recruits moving to the UK to take up a role requiring a DBS, we will still look to assess police records in their country of origin.

We can request equivalent checks from the relevant country using the University’s verification supplier, Verifile, and this is often the quickest and easiest option. Alternatively, the applicant can be asked to get the equivalent checks from the relevant country, where available, or get a ‘certificate of good conduct’ from their home country.

Agency workers, contractors and contracted service providers

To make sure agency workers meet the DBS requirements for relevant roles, managers must only use agencies that are approved under the University’s Procurement service.

For agency workers involved in regulated activities, the agency must provide a Certificate of Completion which will confirm in writing that an enhanced DBS check has been completed. If anything is declared by the agency worker prior to employment, or anything is indicated on the Certificate, then this must be declared by the agency to the HR Resourcing Manager and a risk assessment must be completed before the agency worker starts in role with the University.

Contract managers must ensure that all contracted service providers maintain the standard checks for staff working within the University, and that relevant clauses are included in any contracts and/or Service Level Agreements.

Such as, the contracted service provider shall ensure that: