DBS Checks and Safeguarding in Professional Wrestling

One particularly well-known wrestling company, the London-based PROGRESS Wrestling, after announcing some structural changes, declared that all of their talent, crew and management will be required to apply for DBS checks. This is to disclose their previous cautions, convictions and any other relevant information.

PROGRESS expressed support not only with the victims but also with Equity’s recommendations, and have also drafted a thorough safeguarding policy, code of conduct, audience policy, whistleblowing policy and manifesto. Time will tell whether more wrestling organisations adopt a similar practice to ensure talent and audience protection, but clear safeguarding policies and compulsory DBS checks will hopefully prove vital to the process.

British Wrestling Company Introduces Mandatory DBS Checks

Some months ago, the #SpeakingOut movement trended on social media which saw a number of professional wrestlers being called out for abusive, manipulative, sexual and predatory behaviour. Many victims bravely came forward with some harrowing stories which exposed some wrestlers for their actions that had caused, in many cases, irreparable physical and psychological damage.

In the wake of this #SpeakingOut movement, some British wrestling companies showed solidarity with the victims and blacklisted many of the accused from competing in their organisations in the future. Additionally, Equity pledged that all organisations implement clear, transparent safeguarding policies to ensure the protection of children and vulnerable adults who train with, or interact with unsuitable individuals.

DBS Checks to Improve Safeguarding Practices

Given that the majority of wrestlers operate on a freelance basis, and are effectively self-employed, this may lead to questions about who is responsible for the DBS check application. It is down to an employer or governing body to request higher-level checks, namely Standard DBS checks and Enhanced DBS checks. The only DBS check for individuals to obtain without any employer requests is a Basic DBS check, which discloses previous unspent cautions or convictions.

Other leisure and sport-based personnel, whose role involves training, teaching or supervising children and adults in a vulnerable position, must apply for an Enhanced DBS check (at the request of an employer or body). If, for example, a football club employed a football coach to manage their junior team, at minimum, they must apply for a Standard DBS check, though it’s expected that Enhanced DBS applications will be required. It is the responsibility of the employer, or other body to make this happen.

Given that the British wrestling scene currently doesn’t have a National Governing Body (NGB), despite PROGRESS pushing for one, it’s unclear exactly which DBS check is required at this stage. If we take a look at, for example, the Enhanced DBS check, it delves deep into a person’s criminal history including:

  • Warnings
  • Cautions
  • Convictions
  • Reprimands
  • Other information from an applicant’s local police department
  • Whether the applicant is on the Adults or Children’s Barred List (on request)

But further information regarding criminal record checks has yet to be divulged by PROGRESS, other than they will be compulsory. The company have, however, brought in measures to ensure additional protection of individuals, specifically: “…only accredited people to be permitted backstage and the commitment to have a Lead Safeguarding Officer for talent and crew, plus the hiring of an Independent Wellbeing Officer to advise talent, crew and audience members.”

Here is hoping that this leads to other British professional wrestling organisations implementing safeguarding policies, and that a National Governing Body is introduced in some capacity. Given that many other governing bodies exist out there for different sports, one has to wonder whether the same can eventually be introduced for professional wrestling.

Why DBS Checks are a Good Thing

DBS checks, formerly known as Criminal Records Bureau (CRBchecks, are there primarily to help employers make safer recruitment decisions. DBS checks online can also:

  • Prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups
  • Raise concerns about people with criminal records, or are on any current barred lists
  • Ensure greater protection of people in and out of your organisation

Employers, regardless of their industry or profession, have a duty to protect everybody. Enhanced DBS certificates are mandatory for the majority of roles in education, including private tutors, and are also compulsory for NHS workerscare workers and even volunteers in certain positions. The point remains everybody deserves to feel safe and protected in learning and training environments, so it makes sense everyone knows how to get a DBS check.

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