What do charities need to know about DBS checks?

Charity DBS checks

DBS checks can often seem like overkill for the third sector, but it’s not a thing that you should take lightly or ignore and hope that it will go away.

Whilst there is no legal requirement for every charity to check every person, many are required to by law and others may choose to do so as a risk reduction measure.

So what do charities need to know about DBS checks and how should they manage them?

In this post we’re looking at the issue of DBS and background checks for the charity sector and how you can manage the process efficiently including;

  • What is a DBS check?
  • Who needs checking?
  • Should all volunteers be checked?
  • Should charity trustees have a DBS check?
  • How to manage the charity DBS check process

What is a DBS check?

A Disclosure and Barring Check (DBS) is a check on a person’s criminal record and, depending upon the level chosen, will also include things like police cautions.

There are four levels of DBS check; basic, standard, enhanced and enhanced with list and each has its own uses within the charity sector.

The lowest level of check, the Basic, is as the name implies a basic check of only unspent convictions on the Police National Computer for England and Wales.

This will show up any convictions a person may have received as an adult that haven’t been removed under filtering rules.

This level of check is used as a standard for people who won’t be working with vulnerable people and is most appropriate for situations where there is a low level of risk.

For charities where volunteers and staff are working with vulnerable people and children, an enhanced DBS check is required and this is a much more in-depth look at the background of the individual concerned.

The enhanced check includes all convictions and cautions recorded on the PNC and any information held at a local force level.

The higher level of check, the barred list check, also looks at the lists of people who have been disqualified from working with children and vulnerable adults due to concerns about their previous behaviour.

Who needs checking?

A good approach is for charities to split their employees down into three categories; high risk, low risk and mandated.

Low risk is for employees and volunteers that don’t have contact with the public, don’t deal with money and don’t have access to systems. In these cases, a DBS check is not necessarily needed but the trustees may think that it is preferable from a risk reduction point of view.

For high-risk cases, where people are handling money, are in charge of assets or have access to the organisation’s main systems we’d suggest that a basic or standard is the minimum that you should look at.

This gives you peace of mind that people who have criminal records aren’t in a position that they could do serious damage to your charity or people you work with.

For mandated positions, you have no choice. You need to obtain a current DBS check on these people whether you like it or not.

This is reasonable given that people in these categories will be working with children, older people or vulnerable adults. You can find out more about protecting your charity here.

Should all volunteers be checked?

This is a good question and really comes down to risk.

For example, if you have a lot of volunteers that work in your depot sorting clothes or filling food parcels and they don’t have access to service users then you may take the view that a DBS check isn’t needed.

However, if you run a football coaching charity that uses volunteer coaches working with children then absolutely they should be checked.

The charity sector is so wide-ranging and diverse that it isn’t possible to give a definitive answer and in reality, it comes down to the trustees’ attitude to risk.

Should charity trustees have a DBS check?

There’s no law that requires charity trustees to have a DBS check but it there’s a good argument for everyone to have one.

The trustees are in charge of the charity and can theoretically do what they like with donations and grants and so you need to know about their background.

It is also likely that at some point they will come into contact with service users and again the rules around vulnerable people apply.

So we’d say that as a matter of course you should make sure that you do a DBS check for your trustees.

How to manage the charity DBS check process

The good news is that DBS checks for volunteers are free.

If you run a small charity and don’t have a lot of volunteers then it is a simple matter to apply using the government website but if you work for a much larger charity then things are a little different.

You need to have a solution that is specifically tailored to larger organisations and this is where Checkback comes in.

We specialise in working with businesses and large charities to provide simple, user-friendly solutions for DBS and background checking.

Importantly, all of our processes are guaranteed GDPR compliant so you know you won’t be inadvertently breaking any data protection laws.

And we only charge a small admin fee, so the cost of the DBS check itself will still be free.

One of the things you do need to be aware of is that a DBS check is just a minimum check on the police record of a person, it doesn’t give any other information about their right to work, ability to do the job or their qualifications.

For that, you need to do further, specialist pre-employment screening.

References, qualifications and addresses can all be checked quickly and accurately to ensure that the person is who they say they are and they have the qualifications and experience to work in the role.

Call us now on 01442 816 333 to talk more about DBS and background checking or fill in the form and we’ll get right back to you.