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Do Volunteers Need A DBS Check?

team of volunteers

Do volunteers need a DBS Check?

It’s a question we’re often asked at uCheck. And no wonder – DBS Check eligibility can be confusing!

If you’re thinking about volunteering, you might be wondering whether you’ll need to undergo a check. Luckily, we’re here to guide you through the ins and outs…

First things first – am I a volunteer?

So…do volunteers need a DBS Check? Well, before we can answer that question, we need to figure out exactly what a volunteer is.

The Disclosure Barring Service definition of a volunteer is outlined in the Police Act 1997 (criminal records) Regulations 2002:

“Any person engaged in an activity which involves spending time, unpaid (except for travel and other approved out-of-pocket expenses), doing something which aims to benefit some third party and not a close relative.”

Does that sound like you? If so, you may well be a volunteer. However, the DBS will not class you as a volunteer if you:

  • benefit directly from the position for which the DBS application is being submitted
  • receive any payment (except for travel and other approved out-of-pocket expenses)
  • are on a work placement
  • are on a course that requires you to do this job role
  • are in a trainee position that will lead to a full time role/qualification.

DBS Check eligibility for volunteers

Now that we’ve established whether you’re a volunteer, we’re one step closer to answering that all important question: do volunteers need a DBS Check?

Whether or not you need a DBS Check to volunteer will depend on the nature of your volunteer role. As a general rule, roles involving contact with children and/or vulnerable adults will be eligible for a DBS Check.

More specifically, volunteers will be eligible for a DBS Check if their role:

  • is listed in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (this entitles the position to a Standard DBS check)
  • is specified in The Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) Regulations (this entitles the position to an Enhanced DBS check)
  • involves working in ‘regulated activity’ with children and/or vulnerable adults (this entitles the position to an Enhanced DBS Check with a check of the relevant barred list).

Full details of DBS Check eligibility are available here.

What is regulated activity?

In summary, regulated activity in relation to children means work that involves:

  • teaching, training, instructing, caring for or supervising children, or providing advice or guidance on well-being, or driving a vehicle only for children
  • working in a limited range of establishments (‘specified places’), with opportunity for contact, e.g. schools, children’s homes or childcare premises.

To qualify as regulated activity this work must be done unsupervised. A full definition is available here.

Regulated activity in relation to vulnerable adults means any work that involves:

  • providing health care or social work to an adult
  • providing personal care to an adult who requires it due to their age, illness or disability
  • providing assistance with general household matters to an adult due to their age, illness or disability
  • providing assistance in the conduct of an adult’s own affairs
  • conveying an adult, because of their age, illness or disability, to or from a place where they will be receiving health care, social work or relevant personal care.

A full definition of working in regulated activity with vulnerable adults is available here.

Do volunteers need a DBS Check? Examples of roles

Some examples of volunteer roles that would be eligible for a DBS Check include:

  • parent helpers in schools or nurseries
  • a volunteer in a care home who does shopping on residents’ behalf
  • scout leaders
  • adoptive parents
  • a volunteer who mentors disabled adults

Do volunteers need a DBS Check? A summary

We hope our guide has helped you figure out whether you’ll need a DBS check as a volunteer.

If you do, the organisation you’re volunteering with will most likely have to apply for the DBS Check on your behalf – individuals can only apply for Basic DBS Checks on themselves and the majority of volunteer positions that require a check will need a Standard DBS Check or Enhanced DBS Check. Be sure to check which level of check you are eligible for and liaise with the organisation if they need to apply for a check on your behalf.  

If you’d like to know more about DBS checks for volunteers, get in touch with us today – we’d be happy to help.

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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