Disclosure and Barring Service – Guidance for Staff and Students

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)


Guidance for Staff and Students


As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University are now using an online provider to administer Disclosure and Barring checks on our behalf; Atlantic Data Ltd. are an umbrella body, registered by the DBS to carry out checks.

Please do not continue to use any existing paper forms as these will not be processed.

The University makes use of the DBS service for admitting students to courses/staff to role where a DBS Disclosure is a requirement for admission/employment.  Please follow the guidance below as an applicant, system user, programme leader or recruiting manager when applying for a DBS check.

University Background and Approach to DBS

Background and Approach

The University makes use of the DBS service, as part of our duty of care, for admitting students to courses/ staff to roles where a DBS Disclosure is a requirement for admission/ employment. It is however, important to achieve a balance based on the assessment of the risk involved in particular roles and activities being carried out and recognising the legal limits on the range of positions for which checks may be sought.

For the majority of University posts a DBS disclosure will not be required as they do not apply to much of our core activity. Even where a post involves contact with vulnerable groups, it will not always be deemed necessary for a DBS check to be carried out. Whilst on the other hand a disclosure may be required for other posts for alternative reasons e.g. positions of responsibility which do not relate to working with vulnerable groups.

DBS disclosures will, however, be relevant to certain activities undertaken by some staff in the course of their work and some students in the course of their studies or other activities both within the University and in external agencies. Hence, in many cases the University will be undertaking a check on behalf of an external agency or partner i.e. a school or healthcare setting.

Statement on the Employment of Ex-offenders and Equality of Opportunity for All

Employment of Ex-Offenders

The University uses the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) to help assess the suitability of applicants for positions of trust. We must exercise vigilance in the recruitment and ongoing placement of staff who will be working with vulnerable groups for which there are legal obligations for the University to check the conviction status of those who will be working closely. 


The University is committed to equality of opportunity for all and it is therefore important that those who are recipients of disclosure information must comply fully with the DBS Code of Practice. Amongst other things, this requires the University to treat all applicants for positions, including those who have a criminal record, fairly and not to discriminate unfairly against the subject of a Disclosure on the basis of conviction or other information revealed. 


Policy Statement

  • as an organisation assessing applicants’ suitability for positions which are included in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order using criminal record checks processed through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), the University of Lincoln complies fully with the code of practice and undertakes to treat all applicants for positions fairly
  • The University of Lincoln undertakes not to discriminate unfairly against any subject of a criminal record check on the basis of a conviction or other information revealed
  • the University of Lincoln can only ask an individual to provide details of convictions and cautions that the University of Lincoln are legally entitled to know about. Where a DBS certificate at either standard or enhanced level can legally be requested (where the position is one that is included in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 as amended, and where appropriate Police Act Regulations as amended)
  • the University of Lincoln can only ask an individual about convictions and cautions that are not protected
  • The University of Lincoln is committed to the fair treatment of its staff, potential staff or users of its services, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, responsibilities for dependants, age, physical/mental disability or offending background
  • The University of Lincoln has a written policy on the recruitment of ex-offenders, which is made available to all DBS applicants at the start of the recruitment process
  • The University of Lincoln actively promotes equality of opportunity for all with the right mix of talent, skills and potential and welcome applications from a wide range of candidates, including those with criminal records
  • The University of Lincoln select all candidates for interview based on their skills, qualifications and experience
  • an application for a criminal record check is only submitted to DBS after a thorough risk assessment has indicated that one is both proportionate and relevant to the position concerned. For those positions where a criminal record check is identified as necessary, all application forms, job adverts and recruitment briefs will contain a statement that an application for a DBS certificate will be submitted in the event of the individual being offered the position
  • The University of Lincoln ensures that all those in the University of Lincoln who are involved in the recruitment process have been suitably trained to identify and assess the relevance and circumstances of offences
  • The University of Lincoln also ensures that they have received appropriate guidance and training in the relevant legislation relating to the employment of ex-offenders, e.g. the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974
  • at interview, or in a separate discussion, the University of Lincoln ensures that an open and measured discussion takes place on the subject of any offences or other matters that might be relevant to the position. Failure to reveal information that is directly relevant to the position sought could lead to withdrawal of an offer of employment
  • The University of Lincoln makes every subject of a criminal record check submitted to DBS aware of the existence of the code of practice and makes a copy available on request
  • The University of Lincoln undertakes to discuss any matter revealed on a DBS certificate with the individual seeking the position before withdrawing a conditional offer of employment.


Further advice and/or clarification can be obtained from the HR Department (contact HumanResources@lincoln.ac.uk for more information). 

Exemptions from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974

Regulated Activity - A Guide to Eligibility

DBS Definition of Regulated Activity

Regulated activity refers to certain roles carried out by applicants in relation to vulnerable groups; children and adults with a care and support need. It covers various types of activities which, by their nature, would entitle an individual to an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check with barred list, which is necessary given regulated activity is work that a barred person is not permitted to undertake.


The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (as amended by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012) sets out the definition of regulated activity.


Regulated Activity Related to Children

Regulated activity, related to children, includes:

  • ‘Unsupervised Activities’ - any activity of a specified nature that involves contact with children, including; teaching, training, care, supervision, advice, treatment and transportation.
  • ‘Specified Place’ - any activity allowing contact with children that is in a specified place, such places include schools and care homes, but do not include Universities.


Work under (2.1) or (2.2) is Regulated Activity provided it is undertaken regularly. In this context, ‘regular’ is defined as; carried out by the same person frequently (once a week or more often), or on 4 or more days in a 30-day period (or in some cases, overnight).


Regulated Activity Related to Adults with a Care and Support Need

Regulated activity relating to adults does not carry a requirement to undertake the activities listed below regularly or for any set time period.  If any of the regulated activities are carried out then a barred list check for adults needs to be applied for.  There are six categories within the definition of regulated activity with adults.  These are as follows:

  • Health care – provided by any health care professional, or under the direction of supervision of one;
  • Personal care – washing and dressing, eating, drinking and toileting;
  • Social Work – in connection with Health or Social Services;
  • Assistance with household affairs – cash, bills, shopping;
  • Assistance with the conduct of affairs – Power of Attorney/deputies appointed under the Mental Capacity Act;
  • Conveying an adult – for health, personal or social care due to age, illness or disability.

(Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 as amended:2012)


Where in the University is there likely to be ‘regulated activity?’

The Department for Education (DfE) advise that for HE regulated activity is likely to take place in relation to the following circumstances:

  • Students on placements in workplaces arranged by HEIs will carry out regulated activity
  • HEI staff or students may interact with children in carrying out paid or voluntary outreach work with schools
  • HEI staff or students may interact with vulnerable groups through their academic research.
  • Some HEI staff working in HEI health centres or learning support units may work with adults with a care and support need


Duty to Refer

The University, as both an employer and as a provider of professional education, has a statutory duty to notify the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) of any individual who may be a risk to vulnerable groups (children and or adults).  It is a criminal offence to fail to refer an unsuitable individual (employee, student, volunteer) working in regulated activity who has been removed from regulated activity to the DBS for a decision on barring.  

The duty to refer is triggered when the University determines:  

  • that an individual has caused harm or poses a risk of harm to the relevant vulnerable group, following the application staff or student disciplinary procedures; and 
  • has removed the individual from the workplace or would or might have removed him/her if the individual has already left. (For example, the duty to refer will apply if an employee resigns before the completion of an investigation if the investigation subsequently establishes that an allegation is not unfounded or malicious)

Given this is a statutory duty, these requirements override normal data protection principles. The University should not wait for the outcome of an internal appeal: it is obliged to refer on the basis of its initial conclusion. DBS Barring Referral Guidance 


References and Further Information

Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act   

Regulated activity with adults in England 


DBS Barring Referral Guidance  

Storage of Information and Privacy Notice

How to Identify if the Role Requires a DBS Check

Eligibility Criteria

The University has a responsibility to ensure that we only submit DBS checks which are eligible for checks under current legislation, correctly apply the right level of check, and correctly requested the appropriate barring list information.  Before requesting DBS checks please use the DBS online tool and consider these questions, ensuring that you include your response in your course/role set up form. 

  1. What organisation is the student/staff member going to and where is the organisation located?
  2. Will the student be working with a) Children (under 18) or b) vulnerable adults or c) both? Please note if someone might/potentially/maybe have contact with a vulnerable adult then this is not sufficient to justify the check which the DBS would deem to be ad hoc. 
  3. If working with under 18’s please confirm the level of supervision. Will they have sole responsibility for the under 18’s? Please note if someone is supervised unless medical task (and other restricted activity) related, the check will be unlikely to include barring.
  4. If working with adults who are vulnerable, please confirm what makes the adult vulnerable?
  5. Confirm the regulated activity being undertaken? What will the student’s role include? 
  6. There is a minimum number of hours required for a DBS check. This is working once a week or more often, or on 4 or more days in a 30-day period. Can you confirm that the student will be completing the minimum number of hours required for a DBS check? 

Types of DBS Checks

Basic check  

The basic check can be used for any position or purpose. A basic certificate will contain details of convictions and cautions from the Police National Computer (PNC) that are considered to be unspent under the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974. 


Standard check 

The standard check is available for duties, positions and licences included in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975, for example, court officers, employment within a prison, and Security Industry Authority (SIA) licences. 

A standard level certificate contains details of all spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings from the Police National Computer (PNC) which have not been filtered in line with legislation


Enhanced check  

The enhanced check is available for specific duties, positions and licences included in both the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions Order 1975) and the Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) regulations, for example, regularly caring for, training, supervising or being solely in charge of children, specified activities with adults in receipt of health care or social care services and applicants for gaming and lottery licences. 

An enhanced level certificate contains the same PNC information as the standard level certificate but also includes a check of information held by police forces. 


Enhanced with a barred list check  

The enhanced check with barred list check(s) is only available for those individuals who are carrying out regulated activity and a small number of positions listed in Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) regulations. 

An enhanced level certificate with barred list check(s) contains the same PNC information and check of information held by police forces as an enhanced level check but in addition will check against the children’s and/or adult’s barred lists

If the application includes a request to check the barred list(s) the DBS has a statutory duty to consider any information that suggests an individual may pose a risk of harm.  

Reference: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/dbs-check-requests-guidance-for-employers#types-of-dbs-checks-and-how-to-apply


Cost of Checks

Cost of Checks

  • Basic disclosure cost £23, Standard disclosure cost £23 and Enhanced disclosure £40. The University will cover the cost of these checks provided the University has identified that there is a proportionate and relevant need to the position concerned. 
  • The University does not expect successful job applicants to pay for a disclosure requested by the University as a condition of employment. The University’s central budget will cover the cost of the disclosure. 
  • Similarly, the University recognises that prospective and current students may be required to undergo disclosures as part of their studies. The University will cover the cost of the disclosure.   
  • The HR department will receive invoices from our Registered Umbrella Body ‘Atlantic Data’ to reconcile against our online DBS process. The HR department will make payments from the centrally identified budget.  

Regularity of Checks

Regularity of Checks

Staff checks will be reviewed on a 3 year cycle, colleagues are however required to advise the HR department if there have been any changes that may affect the outcome of a DBS check in the meantime.

Positions of Trust outside of the Remit of DBS


Process for Initiating Checks

Guidance for Recruiting Managers/Managers of Existing Roles Requiring Checks

It is the responsibility of the recruiting manager to carry out an initial assessment and to inform the HR department whether a check is required for an advertised post.

From that point the HR department will be responsible for obtaining DBS disclosures for staff. In the main this will be incorporated into the recruitment process for those positions for which a disclosure is required and be made clear in the advert and job description.

If there is a delay in receiving the disclosure form from the DBS, the member of staff may commence work so long as the manager conducts a risk assessment and ensures suitable supervision is in place.

There may be occasions when existing staff will be required to apply for a disclosure – for instance when they progress or move between positions; are allocated new duties, or undertake research involving contact with vulnerable groups. Line managers will be responsible for identifying the requirement for a DBS check.

Guidance for Programme Leaders


Guidelines on Using the Online Form


Online DBS form guidance

ID Documents

You must have your ID documents before checking and confirming your application

If you need to collect/receive your ID documents, please wait till you have them. This is to help ensure the application is filled out accurately and documents are not rejected at the post office.


Your ID document must match your current address

If you live on campus or other student accommodation during term time, but live with your parents (or a similar permanent home address) in the period between academic years and your ID is registered there please use this address.


Your ID documents should be originals

Photocopies and self-printed will be rejected.


You will use the Post Office checking service, to find the closest Post Office:

  1. https://www.postoffice.co.uk/branch-finder
  2. Enter your address
  3. Choose the service ‘DBS ID Validation Service’, click search

Once you complete your application form there is a letter to print and take to the post office. Although this is the preferred method, they should allow you to show them the letter on a mobile device.



If your title, gender or full legal name are incorrect contact your DBS administrator

They can edit your application before you complete it. Do not continue with your application till this is correct.


You should read the detailed guidance on the application form


Check your application is accurate and check against ID

You must do this before confirming that it is accurate so you can correct.


After you have confirmed your application is correct you cannot amend your application

If there is an error on your completed application a new application is required. To request a new application please contact your DBS administrator.



Problems logging into website?

Click ‘forgotten password’ then the Username and Password option


Website Address

https://lincoln.disclosures .co.uk

You can start/continue your application, print/reprint the post office letter and track the progress of your application.

System Users




Determining Positive Outcomes

There are two typical disclosure results to a DBS check, identified on the system as ‘certificate contains no information’ and ‘please wait to view applicant certificate’.  If the Certificate contains no information: no further action is required as this is a clear DBS with nothing on their record. 

However, Please wait to view applicant certificate: this is a positive result and will require you to request their certificate for review. Once you have viewed the certificate open the record on the system, click ‘view result’, then select ‘update certificate as seen’.

Decisions based on the information provided should be reviewed by the recruiting manager/ programme lead and made in line with course/role/specialism requirements, whilst being mindful of the University approach to DBS, including the employment of ex-offenders.