Disclosure and barring – protecting children and vulnerable adults

Disclosure and barring arrangements help protect children and vulnerable adults. Below is information on how they work and information on the law.

How disclosure and barring arrangements work

Safeguarding legislation enables organisations to carry out background checks on those individuals they engage to work, or volunteer, in regulated activity. The checks are issued by AccessNI.

Disclosure and Barring Service

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) helps employers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children. The DBS decides whether it is appropriate for a person to be placed on or removed from a barred list.

Barring people from working with vulnerable groups

If the DBS receives information that indicates that a person may pose a risk of harm to vulnerable groups, including children, they will look into this and may make a decision to include this person on a barred list.

The individual concerned will be told why and will be able to have their say. If barred, an individual may be able to appeal, depending on the circumstances.

What to do if you think someone shouldn’t be working with vulnerable groups

If you’re an employer and you have removed one of your staff, or you would have done so had the person not left, because you think that they have harmed or may harm a child or vulnerable adult, the law says you must tell the DBS.

You’ll need to fill out a form and send it with any evidence - for example, details of any disciplinary process.

If you’re not the person’s employer but you are worried that an individual may harm, or has harmed, a child or vulnerable adult, you should tell either the police or social services.

If you are worried about the safety or welfare of a child, it is important that you report it. Even if you’re not sure, it's always best to get your concerns checked out by professionals.

Safeguarding vulnerable groups – the law

Under safeguarding legislation:

  • a person who is barred from working with children or vulnerable adults will be breaking the law if they work or volunteer, or try to work or volunteer, with those groups
  • an organisation which knowingly employs someone who is barred to work with those groups will also be breaking the law
  • if your organisation works with children or vulnerable adults and you dismiss a member of staff or a volunteer because they have harmed a child or vulnerable adult, or you would have done so if they had not left, you must tell the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

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