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DBS Checks For Under 18s: Our Handy Guide

volunteer helping an elderly person

The issue of DBS Checks for under 18s often causes confusion.

Most people know that working in a position which regularly involves contact with children under 18 requires a DBS Check by law.

But what if the workers or volunteers themselves are under 18 – do they still need a disclosure?

It’s time to settle the debate once and for all!


The legislation pre-2012

The main reason for the confusion surrounding DBS Checks for under 18s stems from the legislation before 2012, when children as young as 13 would sometimes undergo DBS Checks, which were called CRB Checks at the time.

If you were looking to apply for a CRB check, you will now need to refer to information on DBS checks.

Records kept between 2002 and 2008 show that over 3,000 13-year-olds, 10,000 14-year-olds and nearly 30,000 15-year-olds took CRB Checks.

In total, approximately 750,000 under 18s were screened during this period.

The argument was that since the age of criminal responsibility is 10 years old, it made sense to carry out criminal background checks on anyone over this age, if they were planning to be involved in a working or volunteering role listed in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.


Changes to the legislation in 2012

The government made several alterations to the ways DBS Checks were carried out in September 2012 and one of the main changes was the age when DBS Checks for under 18s were required.

Under these new rules, children over 16 must undergo a DBS Check – but children under 16 are not allowed to.


When do 16-year-olds need a DBS Check?

In the UK, children can leave school at 16 but must stay in some kind of formal training or education until they are 18 years old.

So if they aren’t in full-time employment, when would children aged 16-18 need DBS checks?

Volunteering or part-time work, including unpaid work experience, requires a disclosure if the profession involves regular contact with under 18s – even if the worker or volunteer is also under 18 (but over 16).

Also, some social care services insist that members of a foster care household over 16 must undergo a DBS Check, even if they have no responsibilities for looking after the foster child.

If you have any queries at all about DBS Checks for under 18s, please get in touch and we can talk through the facts in greater detail.

Our blogs are advisory in nature and reflect uCheck Limited’s current thinking about best and common practice in the subjects discussed.

The information contained in our blogs have been provided for information purposes only. This information does not constitute legal, professional, or commercial advice. Whilst every care has been taken to ensure that the content is up to date, useful and accurate, uCheck gives no guarantees, undertakings, or warranties in this regard, or, for any loss or damage caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with reliance on the use of such information.

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