DBS Check Guide for Under 18s

Many job seekers have to complete a DBS online application to start working in roles that involve interacting with minors and vulnerable people. Therefore, they’re essential pieces of documentation that help keep people safe. However, as most DBS applications are for over 18s, it can be confusing whether DBS checks for volunteers or workers under 18 are required.

Here at Online DBS Checks, our team has plenty of experience and knowledge in BasicStandard and Enhanced DBS checks, including understanding who can and can’t undergo the process. We’ve collated some information for those interested in DBS checks for under 18s.

Rules and Regulations of DBS Checks

Confusion regarding requests for under 18s to undergo a DBS check online is primarily due to a change in UK legislation from 2012. Understanding this new legislation and how it affects under 18s is necessary knowledge for anyone who may need a younger person to complete a DBS check.

Legislation pre-2012

Before 2012, children as young as 13 years old were able to complete a type of DBS check, (then known as a CRB check), which was necessary for any young person to work or volunteer with other vulnerable people. In the UK, the age of criminal responsibility is 10 years old, so young applicants could have therefore already had a criminal record.

UK records indicate that over 3,000 13-year-olds, 10,000 14-year-olds and nearly 30,000 15-year-olds took CRB checks between 2002 and 2008. If those children were planning to be involved in a working or volunteering role listed in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, the information revealed in a CRB check was vital.

Many businesses and organisations are still not aware of this change in legislation, so if you’re looking for an online CRB check, it’s crucial to refer to information on DBS checks.

Legislation post-2012

Government changes to this system in September 2012 made the minimum age necessary for DBS check eligibility to be 16 years old. Therefore, anyone under that age cannot submit their information for any type of DBS check. This has resulted in many businesses and organisations not allowing youngsters to volunteer or work with vulnerable groups of people unsupervised. The age of criminal responsibility has remained the same, despite the introduction of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) following the merging of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).

When do 16-Year-Olds Need a DBS Check?

In the UK, children can leave school at 16 years old but must stay in a chosen type of formal training or education until they are 18 years old. Despite this, over 16s can still do part-time work or volunteer in a role that involves working with other under 18s or vulnerable people, which may require them to apply for a DBS check. Some social care services also insist that members of a foster care household over 16 years old must undergo a DBS check, even if they have no responsibilities for looking after the foster child.

DBS Check Process For Under 18s

The application form and process for children aged between 16 and 18 years old is the same for workers over 18 years old, and the DBS cost is also the same (unless it’s a voluntary position). Despite this, young people face more potential problems proving who they are and where they live than those over 18 years old, as very few 16-year-olds have utility bills in their name and under 18s cannot have a mobile phone contract. However, there are other methods for providing appropriate identification:

  • Young people usually provide their passport or birth certificate as a form of ID.
  • If the applicant cannot produce additional documentation on top of this, the DBS may accept a letter from a teacher or principal of a college to process the application.
  • If you have any doubts about the validity of your ID documents, you can contact the DBS helpline to get more information on DBS ID requirements for under 18s.
  • In addition, there is a comprehensive list of documents that can be used to prove your identity for DBS checks which can be found on government websites.

Employers can only request DBS checks for roles that require them, which can be checked using the DBS Eligibility Tool. Therefore, companies and organisations cannot review all volunteers and employees or decide who should or shouldn’t be checked as checks can only be carried out for eligible roles.

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