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Consumer Advice: CRB / DBS Checks

What are they?

- The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) was established in 2012 and carries out the functions previously undertaken by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).
- They use a certification system to prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children.
- The DBS has a code of practice designed to prevent discrimination against people with prior criminal convictions.

Who can request one?

- Employers can request a DBS check on an employee or volunteer worker.
- Individuals can request a DBS check on themselves. However, they can only request the most basic check.
- The Gardeners Guild has no authority to conduct a criminal record check on its members.

Who must have a DBS check?

- Generally speaking, those who may work inside properties where children or vulnerable adults may live.
- People working unsupervised within the boundaries of properties dedicated to child or vulnerable adult services i.e. schools, hospitals, borstals, court buildings etc.
- Contractors and sub-contractors may be required to provide DBS certificates if working on these premises.

Do people have to declare their previous criminal convictions?

- No. Spent convictions (In England this refers to convictions that carried a prison tariff of less than 4 years imprisonment. This is known as the ‘rehabilitation period’.) do not have to be declared.
- According to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, unspent convictions (In England this refers to convictions that carried a prison tariff of 4 years or more imprisonment regardless of whether they were given early release) do have to be declared to employers when asked.

What are the limitations of a DBS check?

- It is only accurate up until the day it was produced.
- It only records convictions not accusations or suspicions.
- Having a DBS certificate doesn’t mean they don’t have spent/unspent criminal convictions. It is what the certificate says that matters!
- In may 2013 (updated 29/11/2020) the government introduced a filtering system meaning that not all cautions and convictions are revealed by DBS checks. Filtered caution and convictions are not wiped from police records - they simply don’t show up on DBS certificates.

Does TGG require members to have one?

- No. The Governments own vetting scheme, run by local councils and approved by trading standards (called Buy With Confidence), only requires DBS checks for traders who work inside a home.
- Gardeners work outside.
- Few trade directories require DBS certificates from contractors.
- It is not a legal requirement for all contractors to be DBS checked.
- The Gardeners Guild is not vetting scheme and membership is primarily for the benefit of the member.
- Gardeners are accepted for membership on the basis of their professional qualifications.

What if a member is found to have a criminal record?

- TGG has no authority to conduct a criminal record check on its members.
- Members are not legally obliged to reveal spent or unspent convictions to us.
- We are limited by law as to how much information we are allowed access to i.e. we cannot contact the police and ask them about a gardeners history.
- We can only act on reliable information that is in the public domain.
- If appropriate and at our discretion, we can refuse to renew a gardeners membership.

What if a member commits a crime whilst being a member?

- Members must comply with our Terms and Conditions of membership.
- We would need to see reliable evidence in the public domain of a criminal act.
- We can suspend, cancel or choose not to renew their membership as appropriate.
- We have a privacy and general data protection policy that states that we will cooperate with the law enforcement authorities.

Accurate at time of publishing.

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This article does not constitute legal advice and we recommend that you seek professional legal advice specific to your circumstances.


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