DBS Barred List Referrals: When and How to Make Them

Some organisations have a legal duty to make DBS barred list referrals if their employees harm or pose a threat to children or vulnerable adults.

But who can make DBS barred list referrals, and when and how should they be made?

Read on to find out…

DBS barred list referrals

What is a DBS barred list referral?

A referral is information about a person given to the DBS, detailing concerns that the person may have harmed a child or vulnerable adult, or put a child or vulnerable adult at risk of harm.

Following a referral, the DBS will consider whether the person should be added to a barred list.

Who can make DBS barred list referrals?

Legislation states that the following types of organisation can make a referral to the DBS:

  • Local authorities
  • Education authorities in Northern Ireland
  • Health and social care bodies in Northern Ireland
  • Supervisory authorities in England, Wales or Northern Ireland
  • Keepers of register in England, Wales or Northern Ireland
  • Regulated activity providers
  • Personnel suppliers

Regulated activity providers and personnel suppliers have a legal duty to make DBS barred list referrals where the right conditions are met – we’ll explain those conditions in a moment.

This legal duty applies even if a referral has also been made to a professional regulator or local authority.

Family members and members of the public cannot make DBS barred list referrals. If a family member or member of the public has a safeguarding concern, they should report it to the police, social services or the employer of the person in question.

When should you make a DBS barred list referral?

An organisation should make a DBS barred list referral if they think a person has:

  • Harmed or poses a risk of harm to a child or vulnerable adult
  • Satisfied the harm test; or received a caution or conviction for a relevant offence; and the person they’re referring works, has worked or may in future work in regulated activity

If you’re an employer or volunteer manager working within a regulated activity provider overseeing applicants in positions of regulated activity with both child and/or vulnerable adults or a personnel supplier, you have a legal duty to make a referral if the following conditions have been met:

  • You’ve withdrawn permission for said person to engage in regulated activity with children and/or vulnerable adults, or you’ve moved the person to a different area of work where they’re not working in regulated activity. This can still apply after resignation, retirement or re-deployment.
  • You think the person has harmed or posed a threat to a child or vulnerable adult and satisfied the harm test (see below) by either an inaction or action and put them at risk.
  • There has been relevant conduct, i.e. action or no action but a risk of harm to a child or vulnerable adult still exists.
  • They have been cautioned or convicted of a relevant offence.

To satisfy the harm test, there must be concern that a person may harm a child or vulnerable adult, or put a child or vulnerable adult at risk of harm – even if the person hasn’t yet done so.

If an organisation with a duty to refer fails to make a referral without reasonable justification, they’ll be committing an offence. If convicted, they may face a fine of up to £5,000.

How do you make DBS barred list referrals?

To make a referral, complete the DBS barring referral form. You’ll also find guidance for completing the form in the same place.

It’s important to provide as much relevant information as possible to ensure the DBS is best placed to assess the case.

For more detailed information about making DBS barred list referrals, check out the government’s guidelines for doing so, or contact them directly on 01325 953 795 or dbsdispatch@dbs.gsi.gov.uk if you need help or advice on this matter.