A Guide To DBS Checks For Volunteering
Volunteering for an organisation is a great way to help out in your community, engage in something you enjoy doing, and to meet other like-minded people. It can be a very rewarding way to use your time and offer your expertise.
There are a variety of different volunteering opportunities available out there – charity shop assistants, volunteer care workers, food-banks, delivering voluntary workshops in schools or colleges, etc.
Organisations that rely on volunteers are always on the lookout for new people to help out. Many of the voluntary roles out there require background checks, such as a DBS check, which involves searching through an individual’s criminal record.
For this reason, there is a special Volunteer DBS Check which is free, regardless of level – Basic, Standard, or Enhanced.
If you’re unsure about what a Volunteer DBS check is, whether you need one for a voluntary role that you’re interested in, and who will pay for it, check out our guide below.
What do we mean by a “volunteer”?
The definition of a volunteer, as defined by the DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) in The Police Act 1997 (Enhanced Criminal Record Certificates) Regulations 2002, is:
“An individual who is engaged in any activity which involves spending unpaid time (except for travel and other approved out-of-pocket expenses), doing something which aims to benefit a third party and not a close relative.”
For the rest of this guide, we will assume that the volunteer role in question meets the criteria set out in that definition.
How do you qualify for a Volunteer DBS Check?
To decide whether to issue a Volunteer DBS Check, the DBS states that the following must be true.
The individual MUST NOT:
- Get any personal gain or direct benefit from the role or position
- Receive any financial gain (apart from travel expenses or other approved miscellaneous expenses)
- Be working at the organisation on a work placement or internship
- Be partaking in a training program that leads to a permanent job or some kind of qualification
- Be enrolled on a training or educational course that involves taking part in the role
The individual MUST meet one or all of the following criteria:
- Be in a voluntary role that involves contact with children or vulnerable adults
- Volunteer in a role that comes under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974
- Volunteer in a role that is recognised in the The Police Act 1997 (Enhanced Criminal Record Certificates)
- Volunteer in a role that is recognised by the DBS as a “regulated activity”
What is a regulated activity?
A regulated activity is a role, or activity within a role, that involves working in direct contact with children or vulnerable adults. To qualify as a regulated activity the work must be unsupervised and requires a high degree of responsibility and trustworthiness.
Here are some examples of common regulated activities:
- School teaching
- Foster parenting
- Care work
- Social workers
- Hospital staff – nurses, doctors, auxiliary staff, etc.
- Transport drivers – especially if it involves driving young people or vulnerable adults without supervision
- Youth activity leaders – e.g. scout leaders, youth club organisers, etc.
Please note that any individual whose name appears on the DBS barred list will be automatically disqualified from working in any regulated activity, whether paid or voluntary. Roles that are classed as regulated activities will always require an Enhanced DBS Check and barred list check, which is the highest level of criminal background check.
Am I able to apply for a Volunteer DBS Check?
If you’re looking to start a volunteering post and you don’t want to be out of pocket applying for a regular DBS check, it may be worth looking into whether you can get a Volunteer DBS Check instead.
The thing is – you can’t just apply for a Volunteer DBS Check on your own – it needs to be submitted by the charity or organisation that you’ll be volunteering with or you can ask a third party DBS provider such as DBSchecks.org for assistance. We can help you with any queries or application issues you may have.
How long does a Volunteer DBS Check take to come through?
If you’re waiting to start a voluntary role at a charity or organisation, you may end up waiting a while to get your DBS certificate before you start. The good news is that if you apply online, you probably won’t have a long wait on your hands.
Most online DBS checks will be processed within 24 hours to 5 days and you should get your results as soon as it’s complete. However, it’s likely that you’ll have to wait for a few weeks to actually receive your paper certificate in the post, usually around four to six weeks.
If you want to find out more about Volunteer DBS Checks, including who is eligible and how to start the application process, then contact us today.