The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), enabled through the Protection of Freedom Act 2012 and earlier Safeguarding Vulnerable Persosn Act 2006 aims, admirably, to ensure certain employers check with the DBS that unsuitable potential employees are not placed into positions where abuses may take place. DBS was formed from the merger of the previous Criminal Records Bureau and Independent Safeguarding Authority.
There are various levels of checking available, applicable to different employment roles, the highest level of which is the eDBS. eDBS allows for the provision of information by the police to the potential employer which does not pertain to criminal convictions, or indeed facts relevant to the employment position (interpretation of the data then residing with the employer). Government documents describe that;
What kind of information can be considered for disclosure?
An Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (EDBS) check can include Convictions, Cautions, Warnings and Reprimands (all of which are, usually, disclosed automatically, as per the legislation, after old & minor records have been filtered and removed). But that is not all: an Enhanced Certificate can go further than that (113B(4), above). The courts have considered just what the authors intended by those words and concluded that any information means “any”, just as the legislation states. This includes, but is not limited to:
- incidents for which individuals were never arrested, charged or prosecuted
- incidents for which individuals were found “Not Guilty” in a court of law (in certain circumstances)
- incidents which were dealt with other bodies other than the police (such as Local Authorities in their disciplinary processes; employers; schools; hospitals etc.)
- third party information – information about people other than the applicant
Whilst noble in intention, this clearly has significant risk impact on individuals who work, or want to work with, vulnerable people The risk includes includes malice and harassment from members of the public or authorities, errors, and significantly those whose sexual activity, whilst legal and consensual, can be misinterpreted as risky by decision makers.