Disclosure and Barring Service update

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The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and a recent Court of Appeal case have brought in significant changes to criminal records checks for organisations that work with children or vulnerable adults.

Some of the key changes have already been implemented, for example changes to the definition of regulated activity and the merger of the Criminal Records Bureau and the Independent Safeguarding Authority in December 2012 to form the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

Another key change is the introduction of the Update Service, which, after a number of delays, the DBS has announced will be introduced on 17 June 2013.

Under the Update Service, the aim is that there will be one application to the DBS for a certificate and, with the applicant's consent, organisations will then be able to go online for an instant free check to find out whether the existing certificate is still up to date.

If on checking the organisation is informed that something has changed, an application for a new certificate will have to be made. The intention is that this will reduce the number of criminal record checks people need to have, saving both the Government and voluntary organisations and employers time and money.

Individuals who work in very close contact with children or vulnerable adults will be required to have an additional check to establish whether they may be barred from certain roles.

For volunteers this service will be free, however for paid employees there will be a small annual subscription charge of £13.

Existing volunteers and employees who already have DBS certificates will not automatically become part of this system by virtue of their current certificate.

An individual can only use the Update Service if at the same time as making the application for the certificate, they opt in for it to be subject to the updating arrangements. Organisations and employers should also be aware that DBS certificates will only be sent to the individual from now on and so they will need to ensure that the individual passes this on.

The DBS will also be filtering certain old and minor convictions following the recent Court of Appeal ruling. Legislation came into force on 29 May 2013 to allow for this and a list of the full filtering rules can be found here. The DBS has also published a list of offences that will never be filtered.