FAQs DBS checks
It can be difficult to know when PTA volunteers need to
have DBS checks (formerly CRB). So we asked the team at Safe
Network for their advice on safeguarding - here's what they
What does 'safeguarding children' mean for our PTA?
Safeguarding is about organisations that work with children
developing a child-friendly culture, taking responsibility for
their safety. For example, making sure that staff and volunteers
are recruited, supported and managed safely; ensuring policies and
procedures are in place to keep children safe; ensuring staff and
volunteers know how to behave towards children; and that they know
what to do if they have concerns, taking steps to manage risks. The
DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) carries out
criminal record checks in England and Wales. New rules came into
effect in September 2012 which changed the circumstances in which
checks are required. (Different rules apply in Scotland and
Northern Ireland - for more details, go to NSPCC.) DBS checks are just one part of safe volunteer recruitment - for more advice
visit Safe Network.
Do all committee members need a DBS check?
There is no legal requirement for committee members to have DBS
checks (not even the chair). The only people who legally need them
are those involved in Regulated Activity with children. Regulated
Activity is defined as regular, and where a person is generally
unsupervised. It includes: caring for or supervising children;
driving a vehicle for children; and personal care, even if only
done once. Regular means at least once a week, four days over a
30-day period, or overnight between 2am and 6am. The supervision
element relates to whether the volunteer is supervised by a person
in Regulated Activity e.g. a teacher. If a volunteer is running an
event for children where no DBS-checked adults are supervising,
they would require a check. Essentially it means 'such supervision
as is reasonable to protect the children concerned'. It is up to
your association to assess whether the event, and supervision
provided, falls under Regulated Activity. Further guidance is
available on the Safe Network website. It is unlikely that all
committee members will be undertaking Regulated Activities - if
this is the case, there is no obligation to check them. However,
the committee may decide that they would still like checks to be
carried out, given that children at your school will trust PTA
members as being in positions of authority. If this is the case,
volunteers may still be eligible for a check if they meet the old
criteria for Regulated Activity in place before September
2012. More information is available on the Safe Network website, or contact the DBS directly for advice.
How do we get checks done and how much does it cost?
You will need to arrange checks via an umbrella organisation -
usually through your school or local authority. You can find a list of umbrella bodies at the government
website. Decide whether to ask volunteers to join the DBS Update
Service. This lets applicants keep their certificates up to date
and allows organisations to check a certificate online. Individuals
can often transfer checks from one role or organisation to another.
DBS checks are free for volunteers, as is subscribing to the Update
Service, although the umbrella organisation may charge. There is no
charge for using the Update Service to make status
Our head has asked that all committee members undergo a DBS
check, but I'm worried that this will result in fewer volunteers.
What should I do?
First consider if a check is required, and if so, why.
Organisations must be able to justify the check - if the DBS deems
the situation inappropriate, they may refuse to carry it out. We
recommend someone should be checked - if eligible - as part of
providing a safe environment for children. DBS checks shouldn't
discourage most volunteers if they understand why they are
necessary. We recommend that you:
Make clear why the checks are needed - it is part of your
association's commitment to keep children safe
Reassure volunteers that you will help make the process as easy
Explain that checks can be transferred to other
roles/organisations if they subscribe to the Update Service. In
addition, if they are already subscribed and their check is up
to date, they don't need a new one
Ensure that volunteers understand that the check is free.
For what types of event would volunteers need a DBS check?
Unless volunteers are involved in Regulated Activity, there is
no legal requirement. If a person helps out regularly they may be
subject to a check. One-off events - children's fashion shows,
school discos, bingo, beetle drives - may not be regular enough.
You can use unchecked volunteers for these, but if this is the
case, be careful what you ask them to do e.g. avoid situations
where they take children to the toilet. Helping out at overnight
events (even if parents are present) may count as Regulated
Activity, depending on the level of supervision provided to
volunteers. Volunteers who regularly help out at one-off events
should be considered for a check - contact the DBS for advice on
For more information
The above is intended as guidance only. We
recommend that you contact the relevant organisations with specific
reference to insurance, legal, health and safety and child
protection requirements. Community Inspired Ltd cannot be held
responsible for any decisions or actions taken by a PTA, based on
the guidance provided.
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