DBS Guidance for Support Groups

DBS requirements: Guidance for groups

Updated 9th April 2020


Some of the the roles that volunteers will carry out in their local communities do not raise safeguarding issues and do not need a DBS check. The law doesn't say when a Standard or Enhanced Disclosure Check 'must' be carried out, but it does specify when a DBS check 'can' be applied for.

Regulated activity is something that must not be done by a person who is barred. If someone is included on the Adults’ Barred List, they must not apply to work in a role that involves regulated activity with adults.

Step 1 - Identify who your volunteers will be working with

Are your volunteers assisting someone who is in receipt of health and/or social care?  It is important that you are able to establish this fact. The person you are assisting will know this, however, we have included a list below, which for DBS purposes, identifies whether someone is receiving a health and social care service. Please use this list as your guide when establishing the fact. They are as follows:

Paragraph 9 of the Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) (Amendment) Regulations 2013:

a) Residential accommodation for an adult in connection with any care or nursing they require.
b) Accommodation for an adult who is or has been a pupil at a residential special school.
c) Sheltered housing.
d) Any form of care, or assistance provided because of an adult’s age, health or disability they have, that is provided to the adult in the place that they live.
e) Any form of health care, including treatment, therapy or palliative care of any kind.
f) Support, assistance or advice to help develop or sustain an adult’s capacity to live independently in accommodation.
g) Any service provided specifically for adults because of their age, any disability, physical or mental illness. This excludes the following disabilities:
i. dyslexia
ii. dyscalculia
iii. dyspraxia
iv. Irlen syndrome
v. alexia
vi. auditory processing disorder
vii. dysgraphia
h) Any service provided specifically to expectant or nursing mothers who are in receipt of residential accommodation

If your volunteers are carrying out an activity, as part of your group, such as:

Assisting an adult who can’t manage themselves because of their age, illness or disability with the day-to-day running of their household relating to:

a) managing the adult’s cash;
b) paying the adult’s bills;
c) shopping.

Then they would be eligible for an Enhanced DBS Check to include a check of the Adults' Barred List. This would also include anyone who is managing the person carrying out the activity.

This would only apply when this role has been arranged via your group and your group is coordinating the activity. If the role isn't arranged by your group, i.e. someone offers to do the shopping for an elderly neighbour as a personal arrangement, then there's no eligibility for a DBS check.

Shopping is one of the tasks that we know groups often support people with, but there are other activities which could mean volunteers are eligible for a check too. You can have a look at the DBS Eligibility Guidance or contact our DBS Officer if you’re unsure. 

If your group’s activities are regulated, under normal circumstances, it is advised that having volunteers DBS checked is a prudent safeguarding step. There is, however, no legal requirement for you to have a DBS check. Regardless of whether you choose to have volunteers DBS checked, you should ensure your group follow simple, practical precautions such as working safely in pairs, keeping records of money spent and providing shopping receipts to safeguard all involved. For further best practice guidance, click here.

Transferable checks

If a DBS check is required for a volunteer and they have signed up to the Update Service, then their DBS check is transferable, so you can, with the permission of the applicant, check their latest status. Just bear in mind that the level of check they currently have must be sufficient for the level of check required for the new position. If it isn't, then a new check should be requested.

For example, if the applicant has an Enhanced Adult Workforce check and you require the same level of check for your opportunity, then you can check their latest status. However, if you require an Enhanced Adult Workforce to include the Adults Barred List check, the current check would not be sufficient and a new check would be required.

If someone is offering their help and they have not signed up to the Update Service but have the correct level check that you require from another organisation, then during these unprecedented times it would be OK to accept their current Certificate. Please be mindful of the following:

  • the date on the Certificate; is it dated within the last two years?
  • check the address on the certificate against a current ID document belonging to the volunteer
  • are there any disclosures on the certificate which would indicate the applicant is barred from working with adults/children?
  • ensure the level of check is sufficient for your needs

Free checks for COVID-19 Volunteers

We are an umbrella body with the DBS and if you do decide to proceed with DBS checks, we're offering this service to COVID-19 support group volunteers at no cost*. Please email dbs@sparksomerset.org.uk to discuss your requirements.

*Limited checks available, offered on a case by case basis. Subject to eligibility and availability. To be agreed with our DBS Officer.