DBS Checks & Criminal Record Checks

Care Check is a leading umbrella body for the Disclosure and Barring Service and has been named one of the top 8 providers for criminal record checks in the UK.

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DBS Checks For Under 18s

There are thousands of people under the age of 18 in the UK who are working or volunteering in positions that usually require a DBS check. This includes young people who have left school to do an apprenticeship in care work or education. There are even those who are volunteering with the elderly in schemes such as the Duke of Edinburgh Awards. For responsible organisations, this leads to confusion as to whether young people should have a DBS check like their older employees. 

With the change in legislation in 2012 confusion is rife, leading to many companies not knowing the current process. For older employees in eligible roles, their employers will have had to request either a Basic DBS check, Standard DBS check or an Enhanced DBS check. So what should employers and voluntary organisations do when hiring people between the ages of 16 and 18? We uncover everything you need to know about DBS Checks for under 18s. 

Legislation Before 2012

The reason for the confusion around DBS checks for under 18s stems back to the previous system pre2012. Children as young as 13 could apply for a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check. This is because the age of being responsible for criminal activity is 10, so any person over that age might have a criminal record. Therefore, those working or volunteering for a role that requires a check should have one. With the introduction of the Disclosure and Barring Service the system changed, however not all businesses and organisations realise this and think the old system still applies.

Legislation Changes in 2012

In September 2012, the UK government changed the way checks should be carried out. One of the key changes was that children over 16 must have a DBS check when applying or volunteering for roles that require one. The current rules also state that employers and voluntary organisations cannot request a DBS check on any child under the age of 16, irrespective of the role they are doing. The age of criminal responsibility remains the same as before.

For this reason, many businesses and organisations don’t allow youngsters to volunteer with vulnerable groups of people unsupervised. As soon as the young person turns 16 years old, they can apply for a DBS check if the role requires one.


When Do 16-year-olds Need a DBS Check?

16 year olds require a DBS check when taking part in volunteering, part-time work or unpaid work experience which involves regulated activity with those under 18, even if the individual is also under 18 and over 16 themselves.

Some social care services will insist that members of a foster care household who are over 16 must have a DBS check, even if they aren’t responsible for the foster child.

Care Check can support you in finding out if someone under 18 in your organisation needs a DBS check.

DBS Checks & Criminal Record Checks

DBS Checks Process for Under 18s

Legally, any child can leave school at 16, however, they must undertake training or education until they turn 18. If a 16 year old is informed that their voluntary role or part-time job requires a DBS check, the application form and process is exactly the same as it is for older workers. Unless it’s a voluntary position, the application fee is also the same. DBS checks can only be requested by employers for roles that require it – this can be checked using the DBS Eligibility Tool. Companies and organisations aren’t allowed to check all volunteers and employees or decide who should or shouldn’t be checked.

Proving Identity and Address When Under 18

Because the process for under 18s undergoing a DBS check is exactly the same as older workers, young people do face potential problems proving who they are and where they live. While many 16-year-olds have a passport and birth certificate, it’s unlikely that they have other forms of ID. Very few 16-year-olds have utility bills and under 18s cannot have a mobile phone contract. There are other methods for providing appropriate identification. Depending on what ID the young applicant has, a letter from a headteacher or college principal could be sufficient. However, this is not always certain and you may have to contact the DBS helpline to get more information on DBS ID requirements for under 18s.

As part of our DBS check service, we can process eligible applicants under the age of 18 along with your older workers. For more information on DBS checks for under 18s, you can contact us

Register your organisation with Care Check and get the required DBS checks you need.

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