Contacting HR

2nd Floor
Bidborough House
38-50 Bidborough St
London WC1H 9BT
Tel: +44 020 3108 8829

DBS (previously known as CRB) checks and criminal convictions policy

1 Scope and Purpose

1.1 The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) has been established under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and merges functions previously carried out by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). 

1.2 This document outlines UCL's policy on the use of criminal record checks (now known as Disclosure and Barring (DBS) checks) and recruitment of staff or volunteers with criminal convictions or those who are barred from working with vulnerable groups. For student requirements on DBS checks and criminal convictions see the Student Recruitment and Admissions procedure.

1.3 This policy applies to all staff and will be made available (see 5) to applicants at the outset of the recruitment process where a DBS request for disclosure of their criminal record will be required as part of the application process.  

1.4 This policy refers to vulnerable groups including children and adults. A child is anybody under the age of 18. An adult is considered vulnerable  during the time which they require services including; health care; personal care; social care; assistance with cash, bills and shopping; assistance with the conduct of their affairs and conveying (transport in relation to health, personal or social care provision).

2 Disclosure of criminal convictions

2.1 It is UCL policy to require applicants to disclose any 'unspent' criminal convictions as part of their application. Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (amended) ex-offenders are not required to disclose to prospective employers, convictions defined as 'spent' under the Act. However certain posts, particularly those working with vulnerable groups, in positions of trust or sensitive areas are exempt from these provisions, and in these cases all convictions must be declared and DBS clearance obtained prior to starting employment. See Appendix B for a current list of spent and unspent conviction periods.

2.2 UCL will not discriminate unfairly against applicants with a criminal record. Having a criminal record will not necessarily bar an applicant from working for UCL; the nature of a disclosed conviction and its relevance to the post in question will be considered. This is with the exception of; a person who has  unspent convictions for violence, assault or damage to property, which are likely to be incompatible with working for UCL or; a person who is barred from working with vulnerable groups. It is a criminal offence to employ a person in a 'regulated position' (see 4) where they have been barred from working with vulnerable groups.

2.3 Where a conviction has been disclosed in an individual's application for a post at UCL, a discussion will take place at the end of the interview regarding the offence and its relevance to the position. Failure to reveal information relating to unspent convictions will lead to withdrawal of an offer of employment, or termination of employment.

2.4 All staff are required to disclose criminal convictions acquired during employment at UCL which may be relevant to their position or that related to violence, assault or damage to property. Disclosure is to be made confidentially to HR Employment Contract Administration team who will consider the effect of the offence on the employee's post. Examples of convictions relevant to positions include a driving offence for a driver position, theft or fraud for a finance position and convictions relating to vulnerable groups if working in regulated activity. Disclosures relating to vulnerable groups will be referred to a UCL Safeguarding Contact who will consider whether a referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service is necessary – see  

3 Disclosure and Barring Service

3.1 UCL uses the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Disclosure Service to obtain information to enable it to assess the suitability of applicants for employment for posts working with vulnerable groups or in positions of trust.

3.2 UCL complies with the DBS code of practice including the secure storage, handling, use, retention & disposal of DBS disclosures and disclosure information and with its obligations under the Data Protection Act.

3.3 Storage & Access - DBS disclosure information will not be stored on an employee's personnel file but will be stored separately in lockable storage with access limited to those who are entitled to see it as part of their duties. A record will be maintained of all those to whom disclosure information has been revealed as it is a criminal offence to pass this information to anyone who is not entitled to receive it.

3.4 Usage - DBS disclosure information will only be used for the specific purpose for which it was requested and for which the applicant's full consent will have been obtained.

3.5 Retention - Once a recruitment (or other relevant) decision has been made, DBS disclosure information will not be stored for longer than is necessary. This is generally for a period of up to six months to allow for consideration and resolution of any disputes or complaints. If, in exceptional circumstances, it is considered necessary to keep such information for longer than six months, consideration will be given to the Data Protection rights of the individual.

3.6 Disposal - Once the retention period has elapsed, UCL will ensure that any DBS disclosure information is destroyed and while awaiting destruction, DBS disclosure information will be kept securely. A record of the date of issue of a disclosure, the name of the subject, the type of disclosure requested, the position for which the disclosure was requested, the unique reference number of the disclosure and the details of the recruitment decision taken, will however be securely stored for monitoring purposes.

4 Appointments requiring a DBS disclosure

4.1  An appointee may be required to submit a standard DBS disclosure where they work in positions of trust which are defined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act Exceptions Order 1975.

4.1 An appointee will be required to submit an enhanced DBS disclosure request which includes a barred list check, where s/he will be working in 'regulated' activity with vulnerable groups as defined by the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006.

4.2 'Regulated' Activity - Children

Regulated activity for children is:

4.3 'Frequency'

'Frequent' is once a week or more on an ongoing basis or four or more times in a single month or overnight (between 2am and 6am).

Frequent activity only applies where they take place in a single specified place e.g. visits to the same school. If activity is in a number of 'specified places (e.g. schools), but is infrequently in each, a DBS check will not be required even if the totality of work carried out in the various settings is frequent.

4.4 Regulated Activity – Adults

The new legal definition of regulated activity for adults no longer uses the term ‘vulnerable adults’ and no longer requires the activity to meet a minimum frequency threshold. The definition now focuses on the nature of activities, which if required by an adult, will define them to be vulnerable. Staff and managers of staff providing the following activities will be conducting regulated activity:

For further details of regulated activity including examples in Higher Education see appendix A.

5 Process

5.1 If the department considers that a position meets the regulated activity definition and requires a DBS check, they must ensure applicants are aware that a DBS disclosure is required as part of the application process and arrange for a DBS check at the appropriate stage.

5.2 When submitting an advert via ROME, the department should select the appropriate option to indicate that the post requires DBS disclosure. The advert will contain a statement to this effect and the department must ensure that the advert further particulars reflects this and includes a link to this policy.

5.3 When an appointee has been selected and a contract request is submitted via SiP, the department must indicate that the appointment is subject to DBS clearance and the contract will be issued with a clause to this effect.

5.4 UCL will accept portability of DBS checks, which individuals may have from previous employers, as proof of satisfactory clearance when:

5.5 The department must request a DBS disclosure form from HR Employment Contract Administration team as soon as the offer is made to the individual. The DBS form is to be completed by the individual, identity checks  verified by the department and returned to HR Employment Contract Administration team for countersignature. The Home Office has revised identity checking guidelines and there may be a requirement to use an external ID validation service. Members of the transgender community may contact the DBS for a sensitive check which does not reveal their gender identity history. All subjects of a DBS disclosure request will be made aware of the DBS Code of Practice. 

5.6 DBS no longer issue disclosure certificates to employers, therefore applicants should bring their certificate to HR Reception, 2nd Floor,Bidborough House, 38 - 50 Bidborough Street, WC1H 9BT
(between 9.30-12.00 or 14.00-16.30) before they start work or any project involving regulated activity.  The disclosure certificate should be provided to HR reception within 7 days of issue, or applicants should inform their HR Employment Contract Administration team contact if they are disputing information on the disclosure.   

5.7 Staff may wish to join the DBS update service if they are likely to require another check in the future.  Applicants may sign up to the service if their check was issued after 17 June 2013, for a fee of £13 per annum, which is payable by the applicant.

Honorary appointments requiring DBS disclosure

5.8 Responsibility for conducting DBS checks for honorary staff will depend on where the individual will be conducting regulated activity:

Work context

Responsibility for DBS check

An employee has a substantive UCL contract and will be conducting regulated activity in UCL and another organisation under an honorary appointment

UCL must conduct the DBS check.

An employee has a substantive UCL contract but will only be conducting  regulated activity as part of an honorary appointment with another organisation

Honorary organisation will be required to do the DBS check

Where an individual has honorary status with UCL and will be conducting regulated activity here

UCL must conduct the DBS check

5.9 Where UCL does not have responsibility for conducting the DBS check because the regulated activity is not being undertaken in UCL, the individual may start work at UCL without confirmation of this check.

6.0 Research Passports - Where the employee is applying for a Research Passport which entails regulated activity at UCL and or other organisations, UCL must conduct the DBS check – see

HR Policy and Planning
Updated June 2014

Appendix A – Regulated Activity Examples  

Regulated activity includes, but is not limited to the examples below. Services aimed at the general public (e.g. hobby societies) but where vulnerable groups may attend, are not considered regulated activity.  

Regulated Activity - Children

Unsupervised teaching, training or instruction, supervising, caring for children
Examples include: private tutors, teachers, speech therapists and youth workers. Wardens are likely to be supervising or caring where there are students under 18 living in student residencies.

Unsupervised advice or guidance for children, and advice, guidance or assistance for vulnerable adults
For children this includes advice or guidance which relates to their physical, emotional or educational wellbeing e.g. children's mentors, counsellors, children's career advisors including members of Outreach providing advice to children at the same schools/ colleges.

Specified place
In some specified places, regulated activity includes anyone whose work gives them the opportunity for contact with children, regardless of the type of activity. For example, this will include catering, cleaning, administrative and maintenance workers or contractors if they meet the frequency test. Specified places include:

Regulated Activity – Children and Adults

Healthcare treatment or therapy provided to vulnerable groups
This includes healthcare professionals, therapists, healthcare assistants, in both hospitals and community settings. 

Students with placements in regulated activity
Students are likely to be conducting regulated activity where they have placements in workplaces arranged by UCL for courses leading to employment as teachers, social workers, youth workers, counsellors, doctors and allied health professions.

Staff or students who may interact with vulnerable groups through their academic research may count as regulated activity. An interview with a child, or an experiment to test a child's response to some stimulus, outside a school setting, is not in itself regulated activity. If there is a carer present, the academic is not providing care or supervision and is not therefore carrying out regulated activity. Research with an adult is only regulated activity if there is health care, personal care, social care or assistance as defined in 4.4 of this policy. If the researcher is a health professional, s/he will carry out regulated activity anyway.

Exemptions from regulated activity

Under-18s in higher education
Teaching, training and instruction or care and supervision of under-18s in higher education will not be required to have DBS checks. The exemption in relation to under-16s will only come into effect when the department has undertaken a risk assessment and put in place suitable arrangements in the light of the result of the risk assessment e.g. restriction of one-to-one contact with the child.

Students aged 18 or over who work with students under 18
The 'peer exemption' applies to students aged 18 or over and they will not carry out regulated activity if they live and work alongside younger students. However students over 18 working with students under 18 will still need to comply with UCL Safeguarding policies (see ).

Children and young people in the workplace
Teaching and training, care and supervision, advice and guidance and medical treatment provided as part of a 16 or 17 year-old's employment (which may be part of their learning or in a work experience situation) is not regulated activity if carried out by a person for whom arrangements do not exist principally for that purpose. In the case of work experience, a DBS check will only be required if an employee's specific job purpose includes looking after under-16 work experience students - see the Work Experience Policy.

Activity with children which is merely incidental to activity with adults

Porters/security guards
Porters/security guards in halls of residence or other HE premises: if care or supervision of students (who are under 18) is not in their role description, they are not carrying out regulated activity and DBS checks will not be required. Deterrence of intruders, protection of property and portering are unlikely to constitute care or supervision of those authorised to be in the premises.

Ancillary first aid
First aid provided by an employee as an ancillary part of their job is not regulated activity.

Regulated activity carried out by visitors in relation to visiting vulnerable groups
There is an exemption of regulated activity undertaken by visitors from outside England, Wales or Northern Ireland for up to three months with children or adults also from outside England, Wales or Northern Ireland e.g. summer camps where the children reside at UCL residencies.

Appendix B - Rehabilitation periods for certain types of sentence/disposal under the 1974 Act (as amended)


Rehabilitation period if aged
18 or over when

Rehabilitation period if aged
under 18 when

A custodial sentence of over 48 months Never spent
A custodial sentence of over 30 months but not exceeding 48 months 7 years from the date on which the sentence (including any licence period) is completed) 42 months from the date on which the sentence (including any licence period) is completed)
A custodial sentence of over 6 months but not exceeding 30 months 48 months from the date on which the sentence (including any licence period) is completed) 24 months from the date on which the sentence (including any licence period) is completed)
A custodial sentence of up to 6 months 24 months from the date on which the sentence (including any licence period) is completed) 18 months from the date on which the sentence (including any licence period) is completed)
Fine 12 months from the date of the conviction in respect of which the fine was imposed 6 months from the date of the conviction in respect of which the fine was imposed
Community order 12 months from the last day on which the order has effect 6 months from the last day on which the order has effect
Conditional caution 3 months from the date on which the caution was given, or (if earlier) when the caution ceases to have effect
Simple caution, youth caution Spent immediately
Compensation order On the discharge of the order (i.e. when it is paid in full)