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Agenda Item No

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting: 23 February, 2015

Report of the Leader

Review of the Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) Policy and procedure within the Council.

 

Purpose of the Report

1. To seek the approval of the Cabinet to amend the Council's Disclosure & Barring  (DBS) (former Criminal Record Bureau(CRB)) Policy, guidance and procedures to reflect changes at national level.

Recommendations

1. That the report is noted and the revised DBS Policy as attached at Appendix 'A' is approved.

 

2. That Cabinet endorse DBS disclosure checks being conducted on all new employees whose role/work meets the DBS eligibility criteria or associated regulation /requirements.

 

3. That Cabinet confirm the three yearly Disclosure & Barring Service checks are conducted for all those employees and workers employed within the terms and provisions of the Care Standards Act 2000.

 

4. That Cabinet endorses the Council maintaining DBS "Umbrella" registration with the DBS and to continue to apply an appropriate fee to reflect the Council's administrative costs.

 

5. That Cabinet note that the Council has obtained registration with Disclosure Scotland to enable basic disclosure checks to be undertaken by the Council.

 

6. That Cabinet delegate to the Head of Human Resources any changes to the supporting DBS policy/guidance to maintain compliance with any future national changes issued by the DBS, Welsh Government or the Regulating Bodies.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1. To provide a robust policy and supporting administrative arrangements to enable the Council to undertake disclosure and barring service checks on workers engaged and services undertaken by the Council.

 

2. To meet the Council's statutory obligations under the Care Standards Act 2000 for eligible staff employed in residential schools and within Social Services, to provide a safe environment for vulnerable people and to comply with national standards and legal requirements.

 

3. As 2. above.

 

4. To undertake DBS checks for workers providing services to or on behalf of the Council and to those organisations located within the Council's administrative area which require and are eligible for DBS checks to be administered on their behalf by the Council. 

 

5. To provide a means for the Council to undertake criminal records checks on workers with access to the Government Secure Internet/Government Connect Secure Extranet (GSI/GCSX) as required under the access compliance requirements.

 

6. To maintain future compliance with recommendation 1, above in a timely and efficient manner.

Background

2. Members will be aware that the Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) was introduced on the 1st December 2012 through the amalgamation of the former Criminal Records Bureau and the Independent Safeguarding Authority.

 

3. As part of recommendations of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, from  September 2012 the following provisions were implemented:- 

  • A new definition of regulated activity (ie: identifies those roles/activities/locations eligible for DBS enhanced and barring check).
  • A more rigorous ‘relevancy’ test for when police release information held locally on an enhanced criminal records check.
  • Introduction of a minimum age (16 years) for when someone can apply for a criminal records check.
  • Repeal of controlled activity.
  • Repeal of the registration and monitoring aspects of the Vetting & Barring Scheme.
  • Repeal of ‘additional information’, that is information the police were previously able to pass to prospective employers, but not to the applicants themselves.

4. The following arrangements continue to apply:-

  • Referrals must still be sent to the DBS where workers have breached safeguarding obligations.
  • The Council must not allow a person who they know has been barred by the DBS to engage in regulated activity.
  • Everyone within the pre-September 2012 definition of regulated activity remains eligible for enhanced criminal records checks.  However, enhanced disclosures for those who are no longer in regulated activity will not include barred list information (with very limited exceptions within fostering and adoption).
  • Application of statutory guidance in relation to supervision arrangements for individuals working with children and where the work is unsupervised which becomes regulated activity.

5. In addition to the above, the DBS has introduced a stream of additional changes over the last 18 months all of which have been taken account of within the Council's latest draft DBS policy and procedures.

Relevant Issues and Options

6. The Corporate Safeguarding Group has considered the latest changes to the DBS arrangements in some detail; a number of the changes where appropriate have been incorporated within the revised Safer Recruitment Policy and guidance recently approved by Cabinet on the 1st December 2014 (Minute C2560).

 

7. At present, all eligible staff within the remit of the Care Standards Act 2000 are checked on a three yearly basis (these currently include most front line Care staff and all professional Social Workers within Social Services along with all "Night Care staff" working at Ysgol Y Deri). 

 

8. Currently, all other areas of the Council and Schools are not required by law or regulation to undertake three year renewal checks on workers.  Although some Councils undertake DBS renewals on all staff who require a DBS disclosure, there is no current statute or regulation to underpin such an arrangement.  In addition, given the potential cost implications, it is proposed to retain the existing arrangements and to continue to undertake renewals in respect of those posts where the statutory provisions or the Regulators require such action.

 

9. The revised Disclosure and Barring Policy is attached at Appendix 'A', a summary of the main changes which have been incorporated into the revised draft DBS policy and supporting guidance which need to be approved by the Cabinet are set out below:-

  • Inclusion of the DBS Update Service process and procedure.
  • Arrangements to take account of the DBS disclosure document being sent solely to the applicant.
  • A number of administrative changes, for example, to reflect changes to Directorate Safeguarding representatives.
  • Accommodate changes to the levels of DBS checks and eligibility criteria to ensure that DBS checks are administered by the Council at the appropriate level.
  • The withdrawal of the previous internal management advice matrix on the suitability of DBS disclosures.  In place of the matrix an internal DBS Review Panel consisting of representatives from Legal, HR, Social Services and Learning & Skills take on this responsibility.  The Corporate Safeguarding Group will consider and provide advice to managers on DBS disclosures where convictions are declared.
  • Workers currently requiring an 'enhanced and barring disclosure' which remains the highest level of DBS check are defined within the Council's DBS guidance and in the recently refreshed Safer Recruitment Policy and supporting guidance.

10. "Enhanced barring" disclosures will confirm whether an individual is precluded (barred) to work within one or both workforces ie:  children and/or adults.  If a person was to apply for a post/role where the individual is barred the Council will be required by law to report the occurrence to the DBS.

 

11. Details of the level of DBS checks available and the information screened and reported within a DBS disclosure are set out within Appendix 'B'.

 

12. The draft DBS Policy and revised guidance will ensure that any individuals who apply for employment with the Council and Schools, contractors or volunteers will be required to produce their DBS disclosure for validation and to have their identity verified and the details recorded by an appropriate manager/counter signatory. 

 

13. The revised DBS policy and guidelines will work alongside the provisions of the National DBS Scheme and will remain subject to any changes issued by the DBS or the Regulators.  It is proposed that any future changes required by the DBS are incorporated within the guidance by the Head of Human Resources in consultation with the Council's internal Safeguarding Group. 

 

14. The existing national DBS arrangements do not in themselves cover foreign nationals or UK Nationals who have lived /worked abroad.  Whilst this loophole continues, the Council will continue to undertake additional suitability checks, for example, enquiries to appropriate Embassies/Consulates and local Police Forces as appropriate.

 

15. The DBS Update Service provides the opportunity for a person as part of the DBS application process to also register with the DBS Update Service (subject to the worker paying an annual £13 fee).  The workers disclosure certificate number (with the approval of the applicant) will enable the Council to make an on-line check to see if the workers current certificate is still valid, up to date, been amended or no longer registered.  If the on-line response shows that a change has taken place a new application and a fresh DBS disclosure will need to obtained by the worker and presented to the Council to assess if the new disclosure is acceptable or not.

 

16. In addition to the issues as set out in 15 above, a new DBS check will also be required in circumstances where the workers DBS Update Service registration is at a lower level than that required in the new job/role (for example where the worker has a standard DBS certificate but the new work applied for needs an enhanced check). Similarly, where a worker is intending to work with a different workforce (for example where a worker within Regulated Activity moves from Adult to Children Services)  a new DBS certificate will be required and payment made to cover a barring check for Children.

 

17. Members will be aware that a person's criminal record will be updated on the Police National Computer record and also on the DBS system.  If a new criminal data entry indicates that an individual may pose a risk to vulnerable people, the DBS has the ability through a prescribed process to consider adding the person to the barred list.

 

18. When seeking a DBS disclosure the counter signatory (an employee acting on behalf of the Council) must certify every DBS application that the documentation been supplied and checked in accordance with DBS guidance and is "complete and true" and that any false statement may be deemed a criminal offence on their part.  The counter signatory is also required to declare that the application for a DBS check is required for the purpose of asking an exempted question under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exemptions) Order 1975:or for the prescribed purpose as defined in the Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records Regulations 2002).

 

19. At present there are no checks undertaken in respect of the majority of Elected Members or School Governors other than those which fall within the DBS eligibility by virtue of their specific role/responsibilities.

 

20. To enable the Council to retain access to the Government Secure Internet/Government Connect Secure Extranet (GSI/GCSX) facility all Council users of the system are required to have undertaken a Basic DBS disclosure. This system is integral to support the work of an increasing number of services operated by the Council (eg: Housing Benefits).  The Council has secured (free) registration with Disclosure Scotland to enable Basic disclosure checks to be undertaken as these remain unavailable through the DBS (England & Wales). 

 

21. The Council will continue to undertake all recruitment checks ie: satisfactory references, medical clearance and, if eligible, validation of a satisfactory DBS disclosure all of which should ideally be received prior to the worker commencing employment.  The Council's Safer Recruitment Policy and procedure will remain the overarching recruitment tool to support an appropriate and safe workforce.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

22. The Council will not be charged for undertaking the on-line validation where a worker is registered under the DBS Update service; however the worker is required to maintain their registration and pay their annual registration fee direct to the DBS.

 

23. The current DBS disclosure fee for new applications/renewals is £44 for an enhanced check, £26 for a standard check and £25 in respect of a basic disclosure.

 

24. DBS checks at all levels for volunteers are provided free by the DBS to the Council.

 

25. For the information of Members, during the period between December 2013 and November 2014 the number and level of DBS Applications administered and paid by the Council were as follows:–  

 

 

 


Month

Type

Number of Applications

Value

£

Dec 2013 to

Nov 2014

Enhanced

Standard

1369

91

60236

2366

Grand Total

1460

62602

 

 

26. If the Council was to undertake DBS three year renewals for all other employees within the remit of the Council's Safer Recruitment Policy, this would bring a further 3,669 employees within scope of the renewal process.  This would cost the Council £161,436 over a three year period (£53,812 p.a.) in respect of additional DBS disclosure fees, plus postage, along with a significant administrative impact on the Council.

 

27. DBS disclosures have, and continue to be undertaken, on all new workers within the remit of the DBS eligibility criteria (including all workers within scope of the Council's Safer Recruitment Policy).  DBS renewal checks will also continue in accordance with the frequency and provisions of the statutory guidelines and as required by the Regulating/Registered bodies (for example Care Standards, Licensing, Fostering and Adoption etc).  

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

28. There are no sustainability or climate change implications arising directly from this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

29. The Disclosure and Barring Service and Disclosure Scotland are both National Bodies and the Council is required to undertake DBS checks at the appropriate level/workforce on all workers who fall within their published eligibility criteria.

 

30. The actual level of the DBS check will be determined by the eligibility criteria outlined by the DBS as set out within A

Appendix 'B' attached.

Crime and Disorder Implications

31. It will be illegal for a person to work with vulnerable people if they are barred from that workforce.  The Council will be criminally liable if they knowingly employ a person to either work with children and/or vulnerable people if they are included on the barring list which will be declared on the worker's DBS disclosure.

 

32. Aspects of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act will continue be exempt from disclosure by the worker.  Similarly, the DBS will filter its response and exclude lesser offences/convictions from the disclosure certificate as they deem appropriate.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

33. Where offences do not result in the individual being barred from the list, the Council will remain committed to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act to determine the suitability of an individual to work in line with the Act.

Corporate/Service Objectives

34. The safety of all vulnerable people associated with the Council is an essential feature of the Council's statutory obligations.

Policy Framework and Budget

35. This is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

36. The Council's internal Corporate Safeguarding Group have been consulted on the changes to the existing DBS policy and guidance which have also been considered by the recognised trade unions and teacher associations.  The trade unions have asked that DBS disclosure fees for new and existing employees continue to be borne by the Council.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

37. Corporate Resources.

Background Papers

Appendix 'A' and 'B'

 

 

Contact Officer

Adrian Unsworth, Operational Manager, Human Resources - Ext 359.

Alyson Watkins, Personnel Officer, Human Resources - Ext 125

 

 

Officers Consulted

Corporate Safeguarding Group

E Morgan - Lawyer.

 

 

Responsible Officer:

Sian Davies, Managing Director

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