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Penny – Potential barring after an ineligible DBS check and a 33-year old historic ‘love bite’

Penny contacted our helpline for some advice after her employers, a local council, had requested an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check for a new role in a different department which Penny believed would only be eligible for a basic check. Her job involved dealing with complaints from local residents relating to environmental issues and very occasionally she would be required to visit residents at home to gather additional information. Her manager had told her that:

‘Although you work with adults in the community you might have to go into their homes to complete assessments and as they may have children we’ve ticked the adult and child workforce box on the DBS application form.’

Approximately one month after the DBS application form was submitted, Penny was contacted by the DBS who informed her that as a result of her conviction and working in regulated activity, they were considering including her on the adult and children’s barred list.

Penny told us that her conviction had occurred 33 years ago when she was 17. She was in a relationship with another 17-year old and she said she “gave her a love bite” – she was convicted of indecent assault and received a 2-year probation order. Since then she had studied for a degree and had worked for many years in management positions within local government. Although she’d had many enhanced DBS checks carried out over the years, she had never been put on a barred list or even considered for inclusion on one. Penny told us:

‘I can’t believe that having worked for the council for nearly 20 years and having had lots of DBS checks, I might now be put on a barred list.’

We advised Penny that in our opinion, her job would not be eligible for an enhanced check as it did not involve teaching, training, supervising, advising, treating/transporting or caring for children or vulnerable adults and did not require her to go into a resident’s house for 4 or more days in a 30 day period.

We suggested to Penny that the first thing she should do would be to raise an eligibility query with the DBS. If the DBS agreed that the check was ineligible and she would not be working in regulated activity, then there would be no reason to consider her for barring.

Before contacting the DBS, Penny spoke to the council’s HR department highlighting her findings around eligibility. Using the information provided by us and the DBS tool checker, the council agreed that Penny’s role was not eligible for an enhanced check and withdrew the application.

Using the confirmation that the DBS application had been withdrawn, Penny was able to provide this as evidence to the DBS barring department that she would not be working in regulated activity and that she should not be added to either the children’s or adult’s barred list. After verifying the information that she had provided and gathering further evidence the barring department confirmed that Penny wouldn’t be barred from working with children and adults.

Penny said:

“I’m over the moon and extremely satisfied with the outcome. If it wasn’t for the advice and support I received from Unlock I don’t know what I would done. I can’t thank you enough for all your advice and help.”



As Penny’s case demonstrates the impact of an employer carrying out an ineligible check can have huge consequences for individuals. Had Penny not raised this issue with her employer then potentially they would be aware of details of her criminal record which legally they weren’t entitled to know. Not only that but she could have been added to the children’s and adult’s barred list indefinitely.

It also raises questions about how the DBS decides whether it is thinking about barring somebody as a result of a historic conviction.


Notes about this case study 

This case study relates to Unlock’s case work.

Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.

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