Eligibility for criminal record bureau checks

Now that the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 is law, there have been questions about the eligibility of Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) checks. The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), established under the Protection of Freedoms Act, now merges the work of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).

The key message is that the government wanted eligibility for criminal record checks to remain the same under the new system, as shown in parliamentary records (column 548).

The CRB has a list of roles eligible for criminal record checks. For housing support staff who are left alone with vulnerable adults, the specific reference numbers are 02(b) and 07. These relate to earlier definitions of 'vulnerable adult' and 'regulated activity' within the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, which did include housing support services.

Eligibility for enhanced checks (without barred list information) includes frequent care and supervision for ‘vulnerable adults’ as well as any frequent teaching, training, assistance, advice or guidance wholly or mainly for ‘vulnerable adults’. To be entitled to the check, the role needs to be included in both the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 and in Police Act Regulations (as amended in 2012). The 2012 changes to these Regulations do allow housing support services to be eligible.

Key Changes:

  •  The DBS has scaled back the barring regime and a new definition of Regulated Activity has been produced. Focus is now placed more on the services and activities that adults require limiting regulated activity to those that pose the greatest risk of abuse.
  •  The abolition of registration to the vetting and barring scheme, monitoring and controlled activity
  •  Checks limited to applicants aged over 16
  • More rigorous relevancy test before local police information can appear on an enhanced criminal records check, and a new right of review available for applicant
  •  Greater powers for the ISA/DBS to review a person’s inclusion on a barred list

Further information on how the DBS works in practice, and the implications for employers, can  be found here