Guidelines for DBS countersignatories

All countersignatories should familiarise themselves with:

It is essential that all countersignatories comply fully with these policies and codes.

Contact details of the Lead Countersignatory and countersignatories for the University of Bristol.

Role of a countersignatory

All countersignatories are required to:

Countersignatories should note that there is no official expiry date for a criminal record check issued by DBS. 

Any information revealed on a DBS certificate will be accurate at the time the certificate was issued. Countersignatories should check the 'date off issue' on a certificate to decide whether to request a newer one. In certain employment sectors, a new criminal record check may be required periodically. 

You can keep a DBS certificate for no longer than 6 months to allow for consideration and resolution of any disputes or complaints after a recruitment or suitability decision is made. If it is considered necessary to keep the certificate information for longer, you should consult the DBS. 

It's the employers' decision to decide whether to accept a previously-issues DBS check. 

If the applicant hasn't joined the Update Service, Countersignatories should consider the guidance from the DBS on accepting a previously issued DBS check before making a decision. Countersignatories can contact the Secretary's Office for advice. 

Role of Lead Countersignatory

In addition to their role as a countersignatory, the lead countersignatory:

In order to establish the suitability of potential countersignatories, the DBS carries out the equivalent of an Enhanced Disclosure level check on each countersignatory.

Applying for a disclosure

A countersignatory can apply for a disclosure on a student by: 

1. Pre-printed disclosure application forms

The University of Bristol has been granted Payment on Account status by the Disclosure and Barring Service.

In acquiring the Payment on Account status countersignatories are able to request batches of pre-printed application in multiples of 200 or 600 by telephoning the information line on 0300 0200 190. There is no charge for the blank forms and application fees will only become due when fully completed forms are received by the DBS.

When requesting batches of blank forms, countersignatories should note that for every four application forms requested, the DBS will only send one copy of the guide to completing the disclosure application form. Additional copies of these guidance documents are available when requesting blank forms.

Dealing with disclosure application forms

The DBS have produced comprehensive Guidelines for Countersignatories when completing application forms.

Countersignatories should be familiar with the DBS Eligibility Guidance and should use the Eligibility tool or contact the Secretary's Office if they are unsure whether the applicant is eligible for a DBS check.  

The DBS recommends that wherever possible identity checks are conducted on a face-to-face basis.

Receiving a disclosure

The DBS Certificate will be sent to the applicant - no copy is sent to countersignatory. The countersignatory should request to see the certificate once received. 

If there is anything on the form that might cause concern, then the student should be invited in for further discussion. A policy statement on the recruitment of students with a criminal conviction is available.

The student has the right to query the accuracy of their disclosure. The DBS has a disputes procedure that can be used in such circumstances.

Correct storage of DBS certificate information is important. Countersignatories must be familiar with the DBS Code of Practice and the University's policy statement on the secure storage, handling, use, retention and disposal of DBS certificates. 

If countersignatories have any questions, they can contact the Secretary's Office for advice on 0117 394 1830 or