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Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) helps employers and volunteer managers make safer recruitment decisions, and operates the lists of people who are barred from working or volunteering in regulated activity with either adults, children or both.

If you dismiss or remove a person from regulated activity (or would have done so had they not left, moved to other duties, retired, etc) because they have harmed or posed a risk of harm to a child or vulnerable adult, then you have a legal duty to refer the person to the Disclosure and Barring Service.

The legal duty to refer to the DBS applies even when a referral has also been made to the local authority safeguarding team, or a professional regulator e.g. the Care Quality Commission (CQC), and if another organisation has also made a referral to the DBS about the same person.

You can contact the DBS Helpline on 03000 200 190 for information or advice about making a referral.

Failure to make a referral without reasonable justification is a criminal offence, and can result in a fine of up to £5,000.

Making Barring Referrals to the DBS

The DBS makes barring decisions about people who are referred to it, usually following an employer's disciplinary process.  Barring means it is illegal for the person to work or volunteer in regulated activities with adults, children or both. The DBS uses a fair, thorough and consistent process that ensures that the decision it reaches is proportionate and appropriate to the risk the person poses.

The DBS recommends submitting referrals using the DBS secure online referral form, but still accepts posted referrals.

The DBS referrals flowchart will help you decide if you need to make a barring referral to the DBS.

Safer Recruitment

Recruiting safely includes appropriate pre-recruitment checks, selection, induction, day to day and ongoing supervision, vigilance, training, and disciplinary processes.  Proper processes like these can never guarantee that people will not be harmed when in the care of your organisation, but having them in place and followed will show your organisation has complied with its duty of care.

It is a criminal offence to knowingly offer paid or unpaid work in a regulated activity to a person barred from working with children or adults.

Use the DBS tool to find out if you can check someone's criminal record:

Employing ex-offenders

If you carry out DBS checks, you must have a policy on employing ex-offenders.  You must show the policy to any applicant who asks.  For a sample policy visit:

Useful links

Below are useful links for regulated activity providers and professionals including the Referral form and guidance.

DBS barring referral guidance

The DBS barring referral guidance includes a link to the DBS secure online referral form.

The definition of regulated activity (adults)

There are 6 categories within the definition of regulated activity for adults.  A person whose role includes the day to day management or supervision of any person who is engaging in regulated activity, is also in regulated activity.

Regulated activities are the activities that the Disclosure and Barring Service can bar people from doing.

DBS Regional outreach

The DBS Regional Outreach can offer bespoke supporting including: 

  • Questions about DBS checks, eligibility and regulated activity
  • Support with making barring referrals and the "legal duty to refer"
  • Delivery of training and workshops directly to your team or network
  • Support your training programmes that require DBS information

Contact: Regional Outreach (North East) on email:

Further information - Disclosure and Barring Helpline: 03000 200 190