Disclosure and Barring Service Policy
DISCLOSURE AND BARRING SERVICE (DBS) POLICY
As part of the Soil Association’s recruitment process to help safeguard the children and adults who access our services, we may request a criminal record check processed through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). For roles based in Scotland checks will be processed by Disclosure Scotland and roles based in Northern Ireland will be processed by Access Northern Ireland.
For certain roles the check will also include information held on the DBS’s children and adults barred lists, together with any information held locally by police forces that is reasonably considered to be relevant to the post.
DBS checks are used to assist the Soil Association in making safer recruitment decisions; however, the check forms just one part our robust recruitment practice.
This DBS policy provides guidance on the effective use of the DBS disclosure process.
Related Soil Association Policies
• Safeguarding Children, Young People and Adults at Risk Policy
• Whistleblowing Policy
• Recruitment Policy
• Recruitment of Ex-Offenders Policy
DBS Disclosures and When to Use them
To determine the type of DBS Disclosure that will be required, the line manager along with HR will conduct a review of the role and determine through a risk assessment, the right level of DBS check required. Food for Life have assessed the role and DBS eligibility for certain FFL job groupings (see Appendix 1 Food for Life roles DBS eligibility).
The role will be checked by line managers at point of vacancy and will advertise the level of check required to candidates. Line managers will also be responsible for the on-going reassessment of the post/work to ascertain if the level and type of contact the individual has with children and/or adults at risk has changed and, whether it’s necessary, to initiate a new DBS Disclosure.
Four types of DBS checks are available Enhanced, Standard and Basic
1. Enhanced Disclosure with barred list check (Children and /or Adults) - used when someone is undertaking regulated activity relating to children and/or adults. Involves a check of the police national computer, police information and the children’s and/or adults barred list.
2. Enhanced Disclosure (Children and /or Adults) - as above except for the check on the children and/or adults barred list
3. Standard Disclosure - used primarily for people entering certain professions e.g. legal and accountancy professions. Involves a check of the police national computer only
4. Basic Disclosure – used where someone will be supporting the work of a department closing working with children, young people or adults at risk and may work directly with these groups occasionally themselves, and/or have access to information or data. A self-disclosure form at point of conditional offer will not be requested.
Recruitment and DBS Disclosures
Where a post is identified as requiring a DBS check, candidates will be notified of this in the recruitment information and advised that the offer of employment and successful probation will be subject to a satisfactory DBS Disclosure.
The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) offers a confidential checking service for transgender applicants in accordance with the Gender Recognition Act 2004. This is known as the sensitive applications route and is available for all levels of DBS check. The sensitive applications route gives transgender applicants the choice not to have any gender or name information disclosed on their DBS certificate, that could reveal their previous identity. To find out more information about this service please visit
For internal appointments a DBS Disclosure from a previous position within the organisation will be acceptable in the following instances:
• Where the type of DBS Disclosure is the same for the old and new post; and
• Where the individual has not had a break in service of more than three months; and
• Where the new work does not represent a significant increase in responsibility for, and contact with, children and/or adults
Should convictions or discrepancies in information be reported through a DBS check, a risk assessment will be completed by the line manager and HR (see Appendix 2) which may result in the offer of employment being withdrawn. Any person already in employment may be dismissed in accordance with the Soil Association’s Disciplinary Procedure.
It is illegal for the Soil Association to employ an individual to work in regulated activity with children if they have been barred through the DBS Children Barred list, or equally someone to work with vulnerable adults who is barred through the DBS Adult Barred List. Should an application be received from an individual already barred from working with children or adults the Soil Association is legally required to report the individual to the relevant authorities.
Recruiting from Overseas
DBS Disclosures do not record convictions committed abroad. When recruiting candidates who have spent a period living or working abroad, a DBS Disclosure will be obtained in the normal way and a DBS Disclosure or equivalent from the country(s) they worked in will be required as well.
Validity and Frequency of DBS Disclosures
There is no period of validity for a DBS Disclosure. Any information revealed on a DBS Disclosure will be accurate at the time the certificate is issued and will technically be out of date immediately as a new criminal conviction may be recorded against the individual at any time after the issue date.
It is the employee’s responsibility to inform their line manager immediately if, following their appointment, they are subsequently cautioned, charged, summonsed or convicted of a criminal offence. Failure to do so may lead to disciplinary action. Grounds for cause for concern could include, but are not limited to, allegations of suspicious or inappropriate behaviour in connection with another adult person, or a child.
DBS Update Service
For a small annual subscription to the DBS, applicants can have their DBS Certificate kept up to date and take it with them from role to role, within the same workforce, where the same type and level of check is required.
Where applicants or Soil Association employees are members of the DBS Update Service, and it is appropriate to do so, we may, with their permission, carry out an instant online check to see if any new information has come to light since their certificate was issued rather than asking them to apply for a new certificate.
We will use this service for the appointments of new staff in roles that require a DBS check, for our three yearly checks and/or when we have cause for concern as detailed above.
If online checks inform us that new information has been added to an applicant’s DBS record, we may request for a new DBS application to be made to find out further details.
Employment of Ex-Offenders
The Soil Association does not specifically ask prospective employees if they have a criminal record unless they are to be employed working with adults at risk, children under the age 18 or in a position of crucial trust.
Potential employees being interviewed for positions of crucial trust e.g. within Finance, Fundraising, HR, or at senior management level may be asked to reveal any ‘unspent convictions’, as defined in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. Please see our Recruitment of Ex-Offenders Policy to support this process.
Storage & Data Protection
The Soil Association complies fully with the DBS Code of Practice, Disclosure Scotland’s Code of Practice and Access Northern Ireland’s Code of Practice regarding the correct handling, use, storage, retention and disposal of Disclosures and Disclosure information. The Soil Association also complies fully with its obligations under the Data Protection Act 2018, GDPR regulations and other relevant legislation pertaining with the safe handling, use, storage, retention and disposal of Disclosure information.
Disclosure information will be kept securely, in lockable, non-portable, storage containers or electronically with access strictly controlled and limited to those who are entitled to see it as part of their duties.
In accordance with section 124 of the Police Act 1997, Disclosure information is only passed to those who are authorised to receive it in the course of their duties. The Soil Association maintains a record of all those to whom Disclosures or Disclosure information has been revealed and acknowledges that it is a criminal offence to pass this information to anyone who is not entitled to receive it.
Disclosure information is only used for the specific purpose for which it was requested and for which the applicant’s full consent has been given.
Once a recruitment (or other relevant) decision has been made, the Soil Association will not keep Disclosure information for any longer than is necessary. This is generally for a period of up to six months, to allow for the consideration and resolution of any disputes or complaints. If, in very exceptional circumstances, it is considered necessary to keep Disclosure information for longer than six months, the Soil Association will consult the DBS, Disclosure Scotland or Access Northern Ireland about this and will give full consideration to the data protection and human rights of the individual before doing so. Throughout this time, the usual conditions regarding the safe storage and strictly controlled access will continue.
Once the retention period has elapsed, the Soil Association will ensure that any Disclosure information is immediately destroyed by secure means, i.e. by shredding, pulping, burning or deleting electronic files. While awaiting destruction, Disclosure information will not be kept in any insecure receptacle (e.g. waste bin or confidential waste sack). The Soil Association will not keep any photocopy or other image of the Disclosure or any copy or representation of the contents of a Disclosure. However, notwithstanding the above, the Soil Association may keep a record of:
• the date of issue of a Disclosure
• the name of the subject
• the type of Disclosure requested
• the position for which the Disclosure was requested
• the unique reference number of the Disclosure and
• the details of the recruitment decision taken