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Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

Barring referrals and the legal duty to refer

Certain employers and organisations have a legal duty to refer to DBS.

Who has a legal duty to refer?

Employers or volunteer managers of people engaging in regulated activity, and personnel suppliers* in Northern Ireland, England and Wales are legally required to make a barring referral to DBS, where conditions are met.

*A personnel supplier may be an employment agency, employment business or an educational institution, and is described as:

Must I make a referral?

If you are a regulated activity provider, or fall within the category of personnel supplier, you have a legal duty to refer where the relevant conditions are met.

The duty to refer applies even when a report has been made to another body such as a local authority safeguarding team. The duty to refer also applies irrespective of whether another body has made a referral to DBS in relation to the same person.

This helps to make sure that DBS has all of the relevant information to consider a case. DBS can then make a fair, consistent and thorough decision about whether to bar a person from working with vulnerable groups.

A person who is under a duty to refer and fails to do so without reasonable justification is committing an offence, and if convicted, they may be subject to a fine up to £5,000.

How to make a good quality barring referral

The below video explores what information we need as part of a barring referral and why this is important.

How to make a good quality barring referral

A transcript to accompany this video can be found here.

Barring referral guidance

There is a selection of guidance and leaflets available across GOV.UK, which may be of use when making a barring referral:

Should you require more guidance, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) has a Regional Outreach Service to focus on working collaboratively with safeguarding and recruiting organisations. The aim is to work closer with organisations and networks to build and develop relationships, acting as a single point of contact for all DBS related enquiries within their region.

Kiran Rehal is the DBS Regional Outreach Advisor for Greater London and will be based in the region. She is available to discuss all matters in relation to DBS, as well as support you and your colleagues in safeguarding and safer recruitment.

Kiran is able to work with you and your organisation in a number of ways, including:

  • Answering phone calls or emails to clarify any DBS related queries/questions or advice
  • Attending meetings, training, conferences or visiting organisations to have a face to face discussion (in lines with pandemic restrictions)
  • Developing and delivering presentations, workshops, webinars or discussions to provide an overview of DBS and safer recruitment
  • Taking any feedback, suggestions or comments from DBS experiences and feeding this back into the business
  • Helping to understand what level of check can be applied for and what information these checks will provide
  • Informing organisations and employers of their duty or power to refer individuals who may pose a future risk of harm within regulated activity. Including an overview of: ▪ How to make barring referrals;

▪ When should a referral be made and

▪ How DBS assess whether a referred person should be included on the Children’s and/or Adults’ Barred List.

If you have any questions regarding the DBS or would like any further information, please do contact Kiran:

Email:  /

Tel: 0300 105 3081