The guidance below sets out the stages of the DBS process and the action you will need to take when a DBS check is required for a role.

What do I need to do?

Stage 1 - Prior to advertising

1. Identify the need for a Disclosure and Barring (DBS) check. The following questions will help you do this:
  • Is the role/activity listed in our Specific job roles and eligibility for DBS checks guidance?
  • Does the role include working with children/vulnerable groups or individuals, either within the College or in another setting? If so:
    • Is it a regular part of the role?
    • How frequently is it repeated?
    • Is contact on a supervised or unsupervised, one to one basis?
    • Is no other responsible adult present?

Answering ‘yes’ to any of the questions above, indicates a DBS check is likely to be required.

2. Identify the level of check required and the type of workforce. For guidance refer to:

You may also wish to view the flowcharts below:

Should you have any queries, please contact the HR Compliance team to discuss.

3. If a DBS check is required, you must:
  • State this in the advertisement and person specification (see template)
  • Advise the Recruitment Hub accordingly

If the role is not eligible for a DBS check, do not request one but instead complete a risk assessment checklist for roles involving contact with children or vulnerable adults.

Stage 2 – Interview and selection

1. Explore the individual’s:
  • Relevant safeguarding experience
  • Their attitude and approach to safeguarding concerns that may arise
  • Ask for explanations of any gaps in employment history

2. Complete a risk assessment checklist for roles involving contact with children or vulnerabl‌e ‌adults.

Stage 3 – Appointment

1. In the following instances you will need to act as mentioned:
  • If the successful candidate is to commence work prior to receipt of a Disclosure, you should arrange for appropriate, supervised one-to-one contact with children or vulnerable adults.
  • If the successful candidate has spent time overseas for three months or more since the age of 16, you should request an overseas criminal records check (see DBS procedure for managers for how to do this), as the DBS can only access criminal records held on the Police National computer. 

There will not normally be any other action for you to take in the DBS application process.  When a conditional offer letter/contract is issued, it will provide the successful candidate with instructions on the action they need to take. You will be notified by HR Compliance when the check has been completed.  If there is any issue, you will be contacted by the HR Compliance team.

Frequently asked questions

Q: Can we accept a DBS certificate issued in another employer's name?

A: To do this an individual must have:

  1. Be at the same level and for the same workforce as their new role
  2. Have the same barred check lists (if these apply)

If all of the above apply, then they will need to arrange a convenient time to meet with the HR Compliance team, to bring their:

  • original DBS certificate
  • Photographic evidence of their identity e.g. passport, driving licence, etc
  • Completed DBS Status Check Consent Form, giving permission for the College to carry out a check on their DBS status

If one or more of the above bullets does not apply, a new DBS application will need to be made.

Q: Can a new DBS check be carried out for staff who have DBS clearance that is not adequate for their new/changed role?

A: Yes.  If an individual requires a different level of clearance, or workforce, due to changes in their role, a new DBS application can and should be made.

Q: Can a DBS check be carried out for current staff now in case we need it in the future?

A: No.  It is not lawful to carry out a DBS check when there is not a current requirement to do so.

Q: What constitutes ‘vulnerable adults’ when considering whether an Adult Barred list/Workforce is applicable ?

A: Vulnerable adults is defined by the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (amended by the FOI Act 2012) as: an over 18 year old receiving the service specifically because of their age, illness or disability.  Note "Illness" is defined as someone in receipt of Health Care.

Where a member of staff provides a service to students (general’ adults) as opposed to being employed to work specifically with ill or disabled students, an Adult Barred list check or Workforce is not applicable.  The member of staff may have contact with an ill or disabled student in the course of their duties but this would be classed as incidental; so this role would not fall under the eligibility criteria for an Adult-related Standard or Enhanced DBS check

Q: Is a DBS check required for First Aiders?

DBS check can only be requested in relation to administering First Aid to an adult if this is being carried out "on behalf of an organisation established for the purpose of providing first aid (for example, St John Ambulance Service)".

Other important information

Cautions and convictions that must be declared

When accepting contracts of employment with the College, individuals whose appointments are subject to a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check are required to confirm that they have been open and transparent about their past and have fully declared any convictions, cautions, reprimands or final warnings that are not "protected" as defined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (as amended in 2013) by SI 2013 1198. The following must be declared:

  • Cautions relating to an offence from a list agreed by Parliament – see below
  • Cautions given less than 6 years ago (where individual over 18 at the time of caution)
  • Cautions given less than 2 years ago (where individual under 18 at the time of caution)
  • Convictions relating to an offence from a prescribed list - see below
  • Where the individual has more than one conviction all convictions will be included on the certificate (no conviction will be filtered)
  • Convictions that resulted in a custodial sentence (regardless of whether served)
  • Convictions given less than 11 years ago (where individual over 18 at the time of conviction)
  • Convictions given less than 5.5 years ago (where individual under 18 at the time of conviction)

The above mentioned list includes a range of offences which are serious and which relate to sexual offending, violent offending and/or safeguarding. It would never be appropriate to filter offences on this list. A list of offences which will never be filtered is available on the DBS website.

This is not the complete list as the legislation also extends to cover similar offences committed under the law of Scotland and Northern Ireland or under laws relevant to the armed services.

Policy statement on the secure storage, use, retention and disposal of disclosures and disclosure information

The following guidelines specify the correct handling and safekeeping of Disclosure information, and are in line with the College's Policy Statement on the Recruitment and Employment of Ex Offenders.

General Principles

As an organisation using the DBS Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) to help assess the suitability of applicants for positions of trust, Imperial College London, complies fully with the DBSDBS Code of Practice regarding the correct handling, storage, retention and disposal of Disclosures and Disclosure information. The College also complies fully with its obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998.

Storage and access

Disclosure information will be kept securely, in a lockable, non-portable, storage container by the HR Division, separately from the individual's personnel file in line with DBS requirements. In accordance with section 124 of the Police Act 1997, Disclosure information is only passed to those who are authorised to receive in the course of their duties. Access is strictly controlled and limited to those who are entitled to see it as part of their duties, for instance to College employees directly involved in the recruitment process and designated HR Managers. Passing on Disclosure information to anyone who is not entitled to receive it could be considered a criminal offence


Disclosure information will only used for the specific purpose for which it was requested and for which the applicant's full consent has been given.


Once a recruitment (or other relevant) decision has been made, the Disclosure information will not be retained for longer than is necessary. In general this will be for a maximum of 6 months from the date of issue of a Disclosure, to allow for the consideration and resolution of any disputes or complaints.

If, in very exceptional circumstances, it is considered necessary to keep Disclosure information for longer than 6 months, the DBS will be consulted about this.


Once the retention period has elapsed, the College (HR Division) will destroy the Disclosure information by secure means, for example by shredding. The College will not keep any photocopy or other image of the Disclosure. However, the HR Division will keep a record of the date of issue of a Disclosure, the name of the subject, the level of check, the position for which the Disclosure was requested, the unique reference number of the Disclosure and the details of the recruitment decision taken.

Lost Criminal Records Checks

If a Disclosure information document is lost, the College will immediately inform the DBS.

Policy statement on the recruitment and employment of ex-offenders

Imperial College London is committed to a policy of equal opportunities in employment whereby individuals are selected, trained, promoted and treated on the basis of their relevant merits, skills and competency. This policy aims to ensure that ex-offenders receive fair treatment throughout their experience of recruitment and employment within the College.

  • As an organisation using the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) to help assess an applicants’ suitability for certain posts, Imperial College complies fully with the DBS Code of Practice and undertakes to treat all applicants for positions fairly. It undertakes not to discriminate unfairly against any subject of the Disclosure on the basis of conviction or other information revealed. A copy of the DBS Code of Practice can be made available on request.
  • A copy of the Policy Statement on the Recruitment and Employment of Ex-Offenders will be made available to all applicants/staff who undergo a criminal records check.
  • To assist the College assess an applicant's suitability for a post considered exempt under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, all applicants will be requested to provide details of any convictions, cautions, reprimands or final warnings that are not "protected", as defined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (as amended in 2013) by SI 2013 1198' at the initial application stage (see Disclosure and Barring Service section above). These posts predominantly include working with children, vulnerable adults and financial management.
  • The College will at all times exercise vigilance and caution when recruiting to posts which are considered exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders, and will undertake relevant criminal conviction checks as part of our recruitment process when appropriate.
  • Where details of convictions are required, they will be obtained in conjunction with the successful applicant / member of staff via the DBS.
  • Where criminal records checks are required for applicant/staff they will be undertaken by the HR Division only. All information received as part of this process will be treated as highly confidential and in line with the College's Policy regarding the Security, Storage and Retention and Disposal of Disclosures and Disclosure Information, as required by the DBS.
  • For those positions where a disclosure is required, all job adverts and person specifications will contain a statement that a Disclosure will be requested in the event of an individual being offered the position.
  • A criminal record will not be an automatic bar to employment at the College. The relevance of the offence to the duties of the post will be considered before a final decision on suitability is made. The College ensures that an open and measured discussion takes place on the subject of any offences or other matter that might be relevant to the position.
  • Failure to reveal information on criminal convictions, at the initial application stage, that is directly relevant to a position may lead to the withdrawal of an offer of employment.
  • Staff are required to notify the Head of Department/Division of any current criminal conviction. Staff are not required to notify spent convictions. Information on convictions occurring during employment will not be used for disciplinary purposes unless it impacts upon the role and responsibilities of the post which the member of staff holds.