Many roles in the health and social care sector will require an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check. For anybody working in regulated activity (for example doctors or nurses) a check of the Children’s and/or Adults Barred List will also be carried out.
Having an understanding of the questions you will be asked by the appropriate relevant body, (for example the General Medical Council or the Nursing and Midwifery Council) and knowing what legally you need to disclose should ensure you do not over or under disclose. It will also allow you to give some thought to how you respond to any concerns raised by registering bodies or employers.
To practice medicine in the UK you will need a licence and will have to join the UK medical register. As part of their registration process, the General Medical Council (GMC) will ask you to provide evidence of your fitness to practice. This will include details of any health conditions which may affect your ability to practice as a doctor as well as details of your criminal record.
What do the GMC need to know about your criminal record?
With regard to your criminal record, the GMC ask the following questions:
Have you been formally cautioned or convicted by the police or a court?
[If your caution or conviction is protected by law in the UK, answer ‘No’]”
If you have a caution or conviction that isn’t protected (filtered) you will need to give the following details:
The date the caution was issued or the date you were convicted
Details of the offence and the circumstances leading up to it
The name and address of the issuing court or police service
Whether you disclosed your caution/conviction to your employer or medical school/university, and if so, what the outcome was.
In addition to the above question, the GMC also ask:
Has any other action been taken against you by the police or a similar organisation?”
In their guidance, the GMC state that you should tell them about other police actions which did not result in a caution or conviction, for example if:
You have been interviewed under caution or arrested for a violent or sexual offence
You have been charged with a criminal offence and the outcome is pending
You have received a cannabis warning in England or Wales
As part of a nursing degree, students will be required to carry out clinical placements which involve undertaking regulated activity.
It is usually the case that as part of their admissions process, universities will apply for a DBS check for anybody applying for a nursing course in readiness for clinical placements.
Staff new to the NHS
If you are new to the NHS, you will often receive a conditional offer of employment before your employer has received your DBS certificate. It’s important to note that although you will be able to complete an induction or training, you will probably find that your duties will be restricted to non-regulated activity until the outcome of your DBS check is known.
If you are going to be working in regulated activity with adults, an employer can find out whether you are on the barred list by carrying out a DBS Adult First check.
Existing staff changing jobs within the same organisation
A new DBS check will not usually be required if you are changing jobs within the same organisation and the roles and responsibilities of your new job do not change or do not require a different level of check.
The need for a new DBS check can be triggered when:
You’ve never had a criminal record check before and you are moving to a role that now requires you to have one.
Your new position significantly changes your role, responsibilities or the amount of contact you will have with vulnerable groups.
Employers will usually make it clear that staff have a contractual obligation to disclose any criminal cautions or convictions that are acquired during their employment. Failure to disclose relevant information relating to your criminal record or barred list status may lead to disciplinary action and possible dismissal.
Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks
The level of DBS check carried out by the employer will depend on the role you are applying for. NHS Employers have produced some guidance around role eligibility which can be found here.
In May 2013 the rules around what is (and is not) disclosed on standard and enhanced DBS certificates was introduced. These rules were updated on 28 November 2020.
Under the filtering rules, you do not need to disclose any cautions or convictions that have been filtered (‘protected’), irrespective of whether you are going to be engaging in regulated activity. It is unlawful for an employer to take any protected cautions and convictions into account when making a recruitment decision.
Other types of check
Many NHS Trusts will ask applicants to disclose details of their criminal record at application stage. Others will require successful applicants to complete a self-declaration form at job offer stage.
These declaration forms include a range of questions the employer is legally entitled to ask including information about criminal records, registration with professional bodies and fitness to practise. Employers might use the standard NHS model declaration forms or one that is organisational specific. It is important however that the employer uses the correct form for the job they are recruiting for so that applicants do not over or under disclose their criminal record.
Model declaration form A – should only be completed if you are applying for a position which is exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. These are positions which are eligible for either a standard or enhanced DBS check and set out in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (as amended) or the Police Act 1997.
Model declaration form B – should only be completed if you are applying for a position which is covered by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and which requires a basic DBS check.
Overseas police checks
If you are applying for a job from outside the UK you will usually be asked to provide an overseas police certificate from your most recent country of residence. Further guidance on applying for an overseas police check can be found here.
How do the NHS deal with a positive disclosure?
Disclosing your criminal record to an employer does not automatically mean that you will be refused a position in the NHS. NHS employer’s consider each application on a case-by-case basis assessing the information provided during the application, interview and criminal record checking process.
Guidance published in January 2021 by NHS Employers suggests that before offering any appointment, line managers/HR should give careful consideration to individuals:
Currently on licence or a community order
Subject to a suspended prison sentence
Under a conditional discharge
Subject to Terrorism Prevention and Investigation measures.
Line managers/HR will in the first instance consider an individuals skills, experience and ability to do the job they’re applying for and should only take into account cautions/convictions which are relevant to the post.
How relevant the offence(s) is in relation to the job you are applying for.
That there are no legal or regulatory issues which would prevent you from doing the job – for example if the job involves regulated activity, make sure the employer knows that you are not on a barred list.
The nature and seriousness of the offence(s).
The age you were at the time of the offence(s).
Whether the offence(s) is a one-off or forms a pattern of offending.
The circumstances at the time you received your criminal record and what you have done since then.
As stated above, many NHS Trusts will ask you to complete a self-declaration form and, due to the complexities of the criminal justice system it can be easy for applicants to misunderstand or get confused about what needs to be disclosed. Unfortunately, employers will often become concerned about any discrepancies in the information you have provided compared with that shown on a DBS certificate and therefore, before disclosing to an employer we recommend you:
If you’re not sure about the date of your caution/conviction, what you were cautioned/convicted of or the sentence or disposal you received, apply for a copy of your police record. This is referred to as a Subject Access Request (SAR) and can be applied for online; it is free and takes approximately 30 days.
Find out what, (if any), level of criminal record check the employer will be doing.
If the role is covered by the ROA and requires a basic DBS check, use Unlock’s disclosure calculator to work out whether you have any convictions which are unspent and which need to be disclosed.
If the role is exempt from the ROA and requires a standard or enhanced DBS check, use our brief guide to find out which cautions/convictions will be removed from a standard/enhanced DBS and no longer need to be disclosed.
Other health and care professions
Allied health professionals make up the third largest clinical workforce in the NHS.
When applying to join the HCPC Register you will be asked the following questions:
Have you been convicted of a criminal offence or received a police caution (other than a protected caution or protected conviction)?
Are you or have you ever been barred under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 and/or the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007 from working with children and/or vulnerable adults.
A criminal record will not automatically bar you from working in any of the above roles although disclosure is likely to lead to your registration needing to be considered at a panel hearing.
The HCPC’s guidance on health and character states that your application is likely to be rejected if you have been convicted or accepted a police caution for an offence involving:
Supply of drugs
Any conviction which resulted in a prison sentence would usually mean that your application would be refused.
Below you will find links to useful websites relating to this page. More specific details (including addresses and telephone numbers) of some of the organisations listed can be found here.
This guidance is for individuals in England and Wales. It summarises the changes to the automatic disqualification rules that happened in 2018 that relate to people being a trustee or senior manager of a charity and how they apply to people with criminal records.
It’s designed to help individuals understand these changes and look at what steps they might need to take if they have a criminal record.
It’s been written by Unlock, an independent charity for people with convictions, with the support of Clinks, the national infrastructure charity that supports the voluntary sector working in criminal justice in England and Wales.
There are a number of terms used in this guidance, including “new rules”, “disqualification” and “relevant criminal record”. Find outwhat we mean by these.
Separate to criminal records (which is the focus of this guidance), there are a number of other factors which can mean an individual cannot be a trustee or senior manager without obtaining a waiver first. More details about these other factors are covered in the Charity Commission guidance.
Aim of this guidance
From 1 August 2018, the rules in England and Wales as to who can be a trustee or hold certain senior manager positions in charities changed. This guidance aims to set out what the changes were, who may be affected by them and what steps you can take if you are affected.
If you find that you are prevented (‘disqualified’ as it’s technically known) because of your specific criminal record, you can apply for clearance from the Charity Commission (technically known as a ‘waiver’). Importantly, you can apply for a waiver before the new rules come into force in August. This guidance covers that process in some detail.
People with convictions often feel that they want to ‘give something back’ after having had personal experiences themselves of the problems that other people are now facing. This can include working in the criminal justice system or for drug and alcohol rehabilitation services etc. Becoming a trustee gives you the opportunity to make decisions on how a charity is run which will have an impact on many people’s lives. Increasingly, charities see that involving people with convictions is an extremely positive step and means they have a board made up of people with very diverse skills and experiences.
So if you’re already a trustee or in a senior manager position, or you’re considering applying for such a position, then it’s important to know whether you will be disqualified and if so, whether you should consider applying for a waiver from the Charity Commission.Roles that the rules apply to
Roles that the rules apply to
The new rules apply to two main groups in charities – Trustees and certain senior manager positions. For the purposes of this guidance, the roles the new rules apply to are referred to here as restricted positions.
Trustees – Trustee roles are normally quite clear, and although the Charity Commission have separate definitions for ‘charity trustee’ and ‘trustee of a charity’ (see the Charity Commission website), the rules apply to both.
Certain senior manager positions – The rules applied to these roles from 1 August 2018. See below for more detail on this.
What is meant by ‘certain senior manager positions’?
This is a new type of role covered by these rules, so it might take time for charities to get to grips with which roles are covered.
Based on guidance from the Charity Commission, it will include anybody who either acts as the charity’s most senior executive and in a managerial capacity reporting only to the charity’s trustees, or who controls the charity’s finances. This will usually cover the role of chief executive and finance director. It’s important to note that it’s the function of the job not the job title that determines who is classed as a senior manager – the Charity Commission has produced a helpful graphic (see below) and we cover this in more detail in our guidance for charities.
The rules don’t apply if you’re looking to work or volunteer for a charity in other roles. They may still ask you about your criminal record, so you will need to think about whether and how to disclose your criminal record, but in most cases it will be down to the charity as to how relevant they think your criminal record is, and they may carry out some form of assessment before considering whether to offer you a role.
What if I don’t think my role is a restricted position?
There should be little dispute about trustee roles.
If you’re working or going to work, as a senior manager then the responsibilities of your role will determine whether it is classed as a restricted position. You would generally be required to have overall responsibility for the day to day management and control of the charity and/or be accountable to the CEO or trustees.
Further guidance and examples of roles are available from the Charity Commission. If you don’t believe that your role is a restricted position, you should raise this with the charity directly. You might also contact the Charity Commission.
Criminal records that the new rules cover – Relevant criminal records
You are prevented from the restricted positions above if you have a certain type of criminal record, which we’ll refer to here as “relevant criminal record”.
There are two elements that make up a relevant criminal record:
If you have an unspent conviction (with one exception), and
Where your unspent conviction is for a certain category of offences.
Unspent convictions only (with one exception*)
If your conviction is unspent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, it might disqualify you if it’s for one of the offences listed below.
If your conviction is spent under the ROA, it doesn’t disqualify you*. You can check if your convictions are spent by using our online tool: www.disclosurecalculator.org.uk.
Simple cautions become spent immediately, which means they don’t disqualify people under the automatic disqualification rules.
*There is one situation where a spent criminal record disqualifies you. This is if you are on the sex offenders register. This disqualifies you, regardless of whether the conviction is unspent or spent. See the offences covered below for more details.
The following offence types are covered by the new rules. For trustee roles, those marked with an asterisk are new and in addition to those that already exist. For senior manager positions, all these offences apply for the first time. Remember – these only apply if the offence is unspent (with the exception of being on the sex offenders register).
Examples of what this includes can be found below
to which Part 4 of the Counter Terrorism Act 2008 applies; or
under sections 13 or 19 of the Terrorism Act 2000 under Part 2 of the Serious Crime Act 2007 (encouraging or assisting) in relation to the offence
An offence within the meaning of section 415 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002
An offence under sections 1,2,6 or 7 of the Bribery Act 2010
An offence under section 77 of the Charities Act 2011 – contravening a Commission Order or Direction
In relation to offences at 1-6 above, an offence of:
attempt, conspiracy, or incitement to commit the offence
aiding or abetting, counselling or procuring the commission of the offence
under Part 2 of the Serious Crime Act 2007 (encouraging or assisting) in relation to the offence
This is where an individual is subject to the notification requirements of Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (often referred to as being “on the sex offenders register”). An individual can still be on the sex offenders register even if their conviction is spent, and this is the only situation where a spent conviction is covered by these rules.
If you have an unspent conviction for an offence not listed above, you wouldn’t be prevented under these roles and so do not need to apply for clearance to be involved in a charity as a trustee or senior manager. However, you might still need to disclose your criminal record to the charity, depending on their policy.
Examples of dishonesty or deception offences
The majority of people with convictions covered by these rules will be because they have an unspent conviction for dishonesty or deception. But what does that cover?
A dishonesty or deception offence includes theft, fraud by false representation, and fraud by failing to disclose information.
Many offences can be committed by using dishonesty or deception, but that’s not the same. Offences not covered by this definition (and so are not covered by the rules) include TV licence evasion, most motoring offences, benefit fraud, assault and possession of classified drugs.
Getting certainty on whether something is classed as dishonesty or deception
You will have to look at each individual offence that you have been convicted of to see if dishonesty or deception forms an element of the offence that has to be proved for someone to be convicted of the offence.
For example, in the Theft Act 1968, the basic definition of theft is stated in section 1: “A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of it; and “thief” and “steal” shall be construed accordingly”. This means “Theft” is an offence involving dishonesty.
Dishonesty and deception are separately defined in relation to different offences. If you are in doubt as to whether your conviction involved dishonesty or deception, and if it’s not clear from the legislation you would need to seek your own legal advice to get certainty. We would also suggest that you contact the Charity Commission as they should be willing to advise on this matter. Otherwise, you may wish to submit an application for waiver from the Charity Commission.
How else could I be disqualified?
There are other reasons that mean you could be disqualified,such as being an undischarged bankrupt. Our guidance focuses specifically on criminal records, but the Charity Commission has guidance on these other reasons.
Action – Check if you’re affected
If you are currently a trustee or looking to become one, you need to check if any of the new rules will apply to you
If you’re currently in, or looking to work as, a relevant senior manager position, you need to check if any of the rules will apply to you
If your role is a restricted position, and you have a relevant criminal record, you are prevented from doing that role unless you have clearance (known as a waiver).
Senior manager positions
If, after the 1 August 2018, you are, or become, disqualified from working in a senior manager position, you must have a waiver in place to continue. If you don’t have a waiver in place, you will need to stop acting in that position. You may need to seek legal advice about how this will affect your employment rights.
If you are, or become, disqualified as a trustee you must have a waiver in place to continue. If you don’t have a waiver in place, you will need to formally resign from any trustee positions you hold.
What if you continue in a restricted position while disqualified?
If you hold a role as a trustee or senior manager and are disqualified from that role, then you will need to immediately inform the charity. If you continue to work and the charity finds out, they would usually view this as a serious incident. The charity might then report the matter to the Charity Commission and/or the police.
Do you need clearance (a waiver)?
We’ve got two things to help you work out if you need clearance: a flow chart and an online tool.
The flow chart below should help you to work out whether you need to apply for a waiver from the Charity Commission or whether you can be involved in a charity without one.
Our online tool is designed to help you understand if the changes will affect you. By working through a series of questions, the tool will help you to determine whether you need to apply for a waiver. This tool is very new and we would like to know what you think of it, especially if you’ve encountered any problems with it or can suggest ways in which it might be improved.
Understanding the clearance/waiver process
If you are disqualified from a restricted position because of your criminal record, you will need to apply for a waiver. If granted, this will bring your disqualification to an end.
When can a waiver be applied for?
You can apply to the Charity Commission at any time for a waiver of your disqualification.
If you will be disqualified as a result of the changes coming into effect, you will not be able to act as a trustee or a senior manager until you have applied for and been granted a waiver.
Types of waiver
There are three types of waiver:
General waiver – for all charities
Waiver for a specific class of charity – this is a group of charities that share a characteristic. This could, for example, be charities working towards the “rehabilitation of offenders” (as it’s often referred to)
Waiver for a specific names charity (or charities)
You can apply for more than one type of waiver at once, which means that you can apply for a waiver that allows you to:
be a trustee, or hold a senior manager position, at a named charity or charities
be a trustee, or hold a senior manager position, at any charity (general waiver)
be a trustee, or hold a senior manager position, at a class of charities
hold a senior manager position only at a named charity or charities. If this type of waiver is given, your disqualification from acting as a trustee remains
hold senior manager positions only at a class of charities. If this type of waiver is given, your disqualification from acting as a trustee remains
hold senior manager positions only at any charity. This is a general waiver. If this type of waiver is given, your disqualification from acting as a trustee remains
What type of waiver should I apply for?
Think carefully about what you’re looking to do. If you have a clear reason for applying for a waiver – for example, you’ve been offered a job as a senior manager, it’s likely to be in your best interest to target your waiver application for that particular purpose.
However, you can apply for more than one waiver at the same time, so there is no harm in potentially applying for more than one type, so long as you consider the different factors that the Charity Commission will consider for these different types of waiver, and make sure that you include the relevant information for each of these factors for each of the waivers.
Will I be granted clearance/a waiver?
The Charity Commission will decide each case on its own merits. However, there is guidance available on how they will make their decisions, and it can seem like quite a high bar. They state that their “starting point is that you should normally remain disqualified until the legal disqualifying reasons that affect you, no longer apply.”
For example, they say they will only give waivers where they believe that:
It is in the best interest of the charity or charities for which the disqualified person asks for a waiver, and
It is not likely to damage public trust and confidence in a charity or charities.
The Charity Commission do give guidance on things that make it more or less likely for your application for a waiver to be granted.
For example, they say that when looking at whether it will damage public trust and confidence in a charity or charities, they will look at factors including:
The severity of what you did and the circumstances
How long ago it happened
Whether it caused damage to a charity.
Things that make it more likely you’ll get clearance
Things that make it more likely you’ll get clearance is to show in your waiver application that:
Your relevant criminal record relates to a long time ago and you can show evidence of good conduct since then.
Your unspent conviction is near to becoming spent – especially if you can show that by granting a waiver it will avoid unnecessary disruption to a charity.
Your offence was not against or damaged a charity.
It involves one or more named charities and there is support for your application by the trustees – with a minimum of the majority of trustees supporting.
It relates to a charity or charities established for purposes which include the rehabilitation of people with criminal records.
Your involvement to the charity is important because of your qualities, skills or experience which, if lost to the charity, would mean that it was less effective.
It is for a named charity or charities, rather than a general waiver or a class of charities.
You have a relevant user perspective that the charity needs in a trustee or senior manager position. In the example the Charity Commission use, they state “the skills and experience of a person who also has a criminal conviction might well benefit a housing charity or relief of poverty charity, whose service users include a high proportion of people with criminal records.”
The points above are important to consider when looking at what to include in your waiver application.
Things that make it less likely you’ll get clearance
Things that make it less likely you’ll get clearance are generally the opposite of the points above, but in particular include if:
Your unspent conviction is recent.
Your application involves a named charity and there is no majority support of their trustees.
Your application is for a general waiver or a waiver for a specific class of charity, rather than a waiver for a specific charity. This is because the Charity Commission say that they need to be confident that the risk in giving a waiver is outweighed by the benefit to the charity sector generally. The decision is likely to be easier in relation to a named charity where there may be supporting documentation from the charity’s trustees.
Waiver applications will be decided using the same approach, whether the application is
For a waiver of a current disqualification;
Made after 1 August 2018.
Charities can use this guidance to find out more about when and how individuals can apply for a waiver, and how they can support this process.
What are my chances of success?
In the past, the number of waiver applications that the Charity Commission has received has been very low, however, they have been granted to the vast majority of applications.
There are no specific figures about the number of waiver applications processed each year which relate specifically to criminal records. In more general terms, in 2012 the Commission received 5 waivers, of which all were granted. In 2013, the Commission received 3 waiver applications, all of which were granted. In the last ten years, with the exception of a spike in applications in 2011 (due to specific work around insolvency), the Commission has received no more than 6 waiver applications per year, 90% of waiver applications over the last ten years were successful.
We have worked with the Charity Commission on improving their waiver process, and we expect the Charity Commission to grant a waiver where an individual can demonstrate the factors that the Charity Commission say will make a disqualification more likely to be waived.
What could happen if I don’t get a waiver?
It’s important that, if you’re disqualified under the rules and plan to continue in the role, you get a waiver in place. Otherwise, if you don’t have a waiver and so remain disqualified, there are some possible consequences:
It is usually a criminal offence to act as a trustee or senior manager of a charity whilst disqualified.
If you’re a serving trustee, you will have to resign. The Charity Commission can make an order to bring about a resignation if necessary.
If you’re a senior manager, you might have to move roles or the charity may try to terminate your contract. Legally, you’ll not be able to do the role anymore.
If it appears that you will remain disqualified from a relevant senior management role, then the charity must conduct a fair investigation into the circumstances providing you with an opportunity to make representation, and a right of appeal. As an interim/temporary measure, the charity could ask you to undertake alternative duties or place you on paid special leave.
If it is confirmed that you are disqualified from the relevant senior management role, the charity will need to consider redeploying you to another role within the charity that you would not be disqualified from. If there are no suitable roles available, then potentially the charity will have a fair reason to dismiss you. The charity will need to have followed a fair process in reaching that conclusion, including consulting with you and giving you the opportunity to make representation and a right of appeal.
If you are disqualified, the Charity Commission can order you to repay any expenses or benefits gained whilst disqualified.
If you are disqualified from being a trustee or from holding a senior manager position, it is important to remember that just because you are disqualified from these roles, you are not completely barred from being involved with charities. It may be that the charity could offer you another role until you receive your waiver from the Charity Commission or until such time as your conviction becomes spent.
Circumstances where you can’t get a waiver
The Charity Commission are unable to give you a waiver if the rules of the charity would disqualify you from being a trustee or a senior manager. For example, if the charity’s rules say that an undischarged bankrupt can’t be a trustee, a waiver would not override that.
In 2014, we clarified with the Charity Commission their approach towards exclusions that charities commonly have in their governing documents regarding being barred from being a trustee if they are disqualified under charity law. The Charity Commission confirmed that if an individual was able to obtain a waiver from them, the individual would no longer be regarded as disqualified under the relevant sections of the charities governing documents, and so could be appointed as a trustee.
You will need to answer the questions on the online form, as well as submitting the supporting documentation required.
The Charity Commission has published a checklist, to help you make sure you include everything you need to include as part of your waiver application.
You can apply for it yourself, or somebody can do it for you, acting on your behalf. However, the waiver application cannot be submitted from the charity itself.
The waiver form includes the following sections:
This is a straightforward section where you enter your personal details.
This is where you choose the type of waiver you are applying for.
If you’re applying for a waiver for a specific charity, you’ll be asked to provide details of the charity’s name, address and charity number, together with information about your role and responsibilities. If you will be working as a senior manager, this could be a copy of your job description.
If you’re applying for a waiver to work as a senior manager you’ll be asked to confirm that one of the statements below is true. If you can’t then you don’t need to apply for a waiver to work as a senior manager.
I am a Chief Executive Officer with overall responsibility for the day-to-day management and control of the charity and accountable only to the charity trustees.
I am finance director with responsibility for the overall management and control of the charity’s finances and accountable only to the Chief Executive or the trustees.
Reason for your disqualification
This is where you need to provide details of your criminal record that means you are currently disqualified. The online application form asks you to provide the following details about your criminal record:
The circumstances and details that led to your conviction.
When you were convicted.
What sentence you received.
When your disqualification ends – this is likely to be when your conviction becomes spent, and our disclosure calculator can help you to work this out. If you’re on the sex offenders register, it will be when this period finishes.
It doesn’t provide a space for providing evidence of what positive things you’ve done since, so we’d suggest you include this later in the form.
Supporting information from trustees
If you are applying for a waiver specifically to work as a trustee or senior manager position of a charity, you will be asked to supply details of the views of your trustees.
If you’re applying for a general waiver you should attach references or information from a third party to support your application.
We have covered what should be included in our guidance for charities, and in particular the section on “How to support a waiver application“. We recommend that you ask the charity to provide this as an electronic document on headed paper, so that you can submit it as part of your online waiver application, as it allows you to attach files.
You should attach files that show the support you have from the trustees of each charity you are looking for a waiver for, and you can also attach references or other information (which is particularly important if you are applying for a general waiver).
This is where you can provide additional information that you think is relevant. As the ‘Reason for disqualification’ section doesn’t include any questions about what you’ve done since, we suggest you cover that here. So, that might include what work or volunteering you’ve done since your conviction, how you’ve turned your life around, and any additional comments that build on the supporting information you’ve provided from trustees or others.
The Charity Commission doesn’t state in their guidance whether it is necessary to provide a copy of your unspent criminal convictions (i.e. a basic disclosure). If you have a copy which has all your currently unspent criminal convictions, it might be worthwhile including it in your waiver application form. If you do not have a copy, you may wish to wait until you’re asked for one before obtaining it, as the current cost is £18 and there is a relatively quick turnaround if you later need to apply for one.
The Charity Commission has published a checklist, to help you make sure you include what you need to include as part of your application.
We’ve put together a template which can be used to help you explain why you should be granted a waiver. It’s a good way of bringing everything together prior to submitting your application online.
The Charity Commission have stated that where you’re applying for a waiver for a named charity they may wish to contact the charity’s trustees to verify or clarify information which has been raised during the application process. You may wish to consider having a discussion with the trustees around the contents of your application once you’ve applied.
Getting a decision on your waiver application
Once the Charity Commission has assessed your application, they will either decide to give you one or more of the types of waivers available, or refuse to give you a waiver.
The Charity Commission say that they aim to respond to completed waiver applications within 15 working days. It’s important to make sure that you’ve provided everything that you need to so that you get a decision as soon as possible.
This allows you to act as a trustee or senior manager of the charities named in the waiver.
This allows you to act as a senior manager but your disqualification from being a trustee will remain in place.
This allows you to:
act as a trustee or senior manager; or
senior manager only
at any charity, for a general waiver
at all charities in the class, for a class waiver
This means you remain disqualified until either the reason you were disqualified no longer applies, you successfully appeal the decision (see below), or you make a later successful waiver application. If you become disqualified on the 1 August 2018 and you’ve applied for a waiver before that, your disqualification only takes effect if your appeal is refused and when your appeal rights have been exhausted.
Let us know the decision
We are keen to see how the Charity Commission makes its individual decisions in relation to people applying for a waiver because of their criminal record. This will help us in our policy and campaign work. Email email@example.com
Appealing a decision
A waiver decision can be appealed.
You can ask the Charity Commission to review their decision or appeal the decision to the Charity Tribunal.
You can read this guidance to find out more about requesting a review of a Charity Commission decision which also outlines the timescale for making an application to the Charity Tribunal.
If you are disqualified because of your criminal record, your waiver application has been refused and you are looking to appeal the decision, you can contact our helpline so that we can try to support you through this process.
An overview of the steps to take
To summarise a complex set of rules and process, we’ve put together a short overview of 5 steps that you need to take if you think you might be affected by these charity rules.
1. Check if your role is covered
If you’re a trustee, you’re covered by the new rules. If you’re working in a charity, check if your role is classed as a senior manager under these rules.
2. Check if your criminal record prevents you from doing the role
If you’re currently a trustee or looking to become one, you’ll need to check if any of the new disqualification reasons coming into effect will apply to you.
If you’re currently in, or looking to work in a relevant senior manager position, you will need to check if any of the disqualification reasons will apply to you.
3. Use our tool to double-check
We’ve developed a simple, easy to use tool to help you work out if you’re affected by the rules.
4. Tell the charity
If you’re currently involved in a charity or looking to become involved in a restricted position, and you find that you will be disqualified, you should tell the charity as soon as possible. If you are planning to apply for a waiver, their support will help. See below.
If you are disqualified you must not act in a trustee position or in a relevant senior manager role.
5. Apply for a waiver
If you’re looking to be a trustee or senior manager, you can either apply for a general waiver now, or wait until you have a specific position and then apply for a waiver for a named charity.
If you’re a current trustee who already has a waiver, its terms will continue to apply. You will only be disqualified if another or new disqualifying reason applies to you.
Providing you can drive, there’s not a huge amount of additional training you’ll need to get started as a taxi driver. Added to this the flexible hours and the ability to earn a reasonable living, and you can see why people with convictions seriously consider this type of work.
The aim of this page is to set out how a criminal record may affect your success in becoming a licensed taxi driver.
Why is this important?
If you’re applying to become a licensed taxi driver you’ll need to apply to the licensing unit of your local council (or Transport for London, TfL, if you want to work in the capital). Councils all have slightly different ways of dealing with the disclosure of a criminal record with some appearing to be more willing to approve applications than others. It’s a good idea to do some research prior to applying as your nearest council may not be the best one to apply to.
As part of the application process, the council will carry out checks to determine whether you have a criminal record and it’s important that you have a good understanding of what you’ll need to disclose, and how to appeal if the council refuse your application.
What’s the criteria for getting a licence?
Each council will have their own licensing criteria but generally you’ll need to:
Have a full UK or EU driving licence
Have an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check
Be able to get suitable taxi insurance
Be aged over 18 (21 in some areas).
Are there different types of taxi licence?
There are two types of taxi licence:
A hackney carriage licence – the vehicle and driver are immediately available for hire and can be hailed on the street
A private hire vehicle licence – these must be booked in advance through a licensed operator
The licensing criteria and qualifications are broadly very similar for both and your local council will be able to provide you with details of which licence to apply for.
In addition to the above, some councils will require you to hold an additional licence if you wish to undertake any type of school transport contract work.
Will I need a criminal record check to get a licence?
However, a Freedom of Information request done by the BBC earlier this year revealed that since 2012, three hundred drivers with convictions had been granted taxi licences across six councils in the north-west.
What can I do if I’m refused a licence?
If your application is refused, you have the right to appeal the decision through the licensing authority’s appeals panel.
If the licensing committee uphold the refusal then you can appeal to the Magistrates Court within 21 days although this can be expensive and you may wish to seek legal advice prior to going down this route.
Alternatively you could consider applying to another local council who may be more understanding in the way they treat people with criminal records.
Receiving a criminal record if you already hold a licence
If you already hold a licence and receive a conviction, caution or fixed penalty notice you will need to disclose this to the licensing authority in writing within 7 days. They will consider the seriousness of the offence, any aggravating or mitigating factors and your past driving history and will then decide what, if any, action to take. This may include suspending or revoking your licence.
You will have the right to appeal the decision either through the licensing committee or at the Magistrates Court.
Getting taxi insurance
Anybody who drives a taxi will need specific taxi insurance. Standard car insurance won’t cover you, even if it includes cover for business use. Taxi insurance is likely to be more expensive than ordinary car insurance as many insurers perceive there to be a higher risk of an accident and if you have an unspent conviction, especially if it’s for a motoring offence, then this will add to the expense. You may want to discuss the likely cost of insurance with a specialist broker.
Despite relaxing the recruitment rules to allow for a more inclusive and diverse police force, the police still have very strict entry requirements.
It’s important to be aware of the criteria that the police use to make their recruitment decisions and whether you are likely to meet them. Some convictions/cautions will result in an outright rejection whilst others will be considered on a case by case basis.
Entry routes for police constables
There are currently four main routes into the police service.
Apprenticeship – You can join as a constable and follow an apprenticeship in professional policing practice. This route will usually take three years and will involve both on and off-the-job learning.
Degree-holder entry – If you already have a degree (it doesn’t matter which subject) you can join and follow a work-based programme, supported by off-the-job learning. This route will usually take two years.
Pre-join degree – If you’d prefer to study first, you can do a three year degree in professional policing (at your own expense) and then apply to a police force and follow a shorter on-the job training programme.
‘Traditional’ Initial Police Learning Development Programme (IPLDP) – This is the original route into the police force and is gradually being replaced with the three new entry routes set out above. You will need to apply directly to the force and then undertake a two year programme.
What is the eligibility criteria for the role of a police officer?
The College of Policing has produced guidance for the recruitment of police officers which can be found here.
There are various criteria you must meet in relation to age, financial situation and tattoos/body piercings but our information will concentrate on criminal records.
The checks they carry out
Police force’s will carry out thorough checks on you, your spouse or partner, close relatives such as parents, in-laws, children or others residing or associated with you. They will check the Police National Computer (PNC), Criminal History System (CHS), Criminal Information System (CIS), local intelligence and other relevant non-conviction databases. Where appropriate they will also check military and police professional standards databases as well.
If you are applying to a police force outside the area where you live, your residing force may be asked to conduct checks on you using their systems and local intelligence databases.
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 does not apply to the police. Therefore, you will need to disclose all spent and unspent convictions, including those that are filtered. The police will conduct a search of the PNC, so they will be aware of all cautions/convictions (even those which would be eligible for filtering).
A case heard at the Court of Appeal in October 2020 ruled that all would-be police officers must disclose all convictions and cautions including those received as a child. The judges stated that disclosure is “necessary in a democratic society” to prevent crime.
Police forces will use the guidance provided to assess each application on an individual basis and eligibility will depend on the nature and circumstances of the offence.
In May 2019, the College of Policing produced a guide to APP Vetting which provides information on the vetting procedures which are applied to police forces in England and Wales.
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 does not apply to police officers. Police forces are therefore entitled to ask applicants to reveal spent convictions during the recruitment or vetting process.”
For vetting purposes, a check will be made of the Police National Computer, the Police National Database and other intelligence databases. Any cautions or convictions which are ‘protected’ (eligible for filtering off standard and enhanced DBS checks) would also need to be disclosed.
How are convictions/cautions dealt with?
On 12 October 2017 the new Police Vetting Code of Practice was published, replacing the previous 2012 policy. The Code applies to all police forces in England and Wales.
It emphasises the importance of maintaining high ethical and professional standards and of police officers acting with the utmost integrity, for which purpose a thorough vetting regime is essential. It sets out a number of principles, including Principle 12 which states:
Public confidence may be affected if an officer has a previous conviction or caution, therefore there is a rebuttable presumption that a person will not be suitable for appointment as a police officer or special constable if they have a previous conviction or caution for a criminal offence, especially if it relates to dishonest or corrupt practices, or violence. Factors that may weigh against this presumption being applied in individual cases include the nature and severity of the offence, the person’s age at the time they committed the offence, and the length of time since the offence was committed. Each case must be considered on its own merits including both the individual’s role in the offence and the nature of the conviction or caution. This presumption applies to police staff roles with designated powers or roles where there is a likelihood of being in the evidential chain.”
The Code adds that an application for a position as a police officer, or as a member of police staff where the person may be in the evidential chain, are to be rejected in all cases where an offence, whether committed as an adult or child, resulted in a custodial sentence (including a suspended sentence) or where the applicant is a registered sex offender or subject to a registration requirement.
Where the police suspect that you have failed to declare a conviction or caution, enquiries will be made to ascertain whether the conviction or caution is attributable to you. Enquiries will be made to the relevant court to ensure that the conviction has not been overturned on appeal. Where it is established that you have deliberately failed to disclose a conviction or caution, then your application will probably by rejected.
If you disclose an outstanding charge or summons, your application will probably be put on hold until the outcome is known, at which point it will be considered in accordance with the guidance above.
HM Forces convictions
If you are a serving member of the armed forces and have been convicted of any criminal offence by a military tribunal, this will be recorded on the PNC. This will include any aspect of a conditional discharge. Any convictions obtained whilst in the armed forces will be considered in accordance with the guidance.
Relatives and associates with criminal convictions or cautions
Where your relatives or associates are found to have unspent convictions or cautions for recordable offences, the following will be considered:
The likelihood that your performance and discharge of duty will be adversely affected e.g. through adverse pressure or a conflict of interests.
The nature, number and seriousness of the offences or involvement in criminal activity and the time over which these took place.
Whether the circumstances are likely to bring discredit to or embarrass the Police Service or Police Force.
Vetting for candidates who have been living or are resident abroad
The police will carry out recruitment vetting procedures on all applicants to determine your suitability to have access to sensitive and classified information. This applies to all applicants (including United Kingdom nationals who have been living abroad, Commonwealth and foreign applicants).
If you are living or have recently lived abroad then the police will make checks looking for at least a 3 year checkable history.
If you cannot be vetted then your application will not be successful.
Vetting for non-police personnel
The police will carry out recruitment vetting procedures on all “persons employed for the purposes of, or to assist the constables of, a police force established under any enactment”. You can be asked about both unspent and spent cautions and convictions and they can be considered in the vetting process. However, you shouldn’t be asked to disclose protected (filtered) cautions and convictions and they shouldn’t be considered in the vetting process.
This information forms part of our section on looking for employment and common occupations and professions. It provides details of how people who have a criminal record will be dealt with if they are looking to become a Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).
Why is this important?
Campaigning to be a PCC can be expensive (the average candidate in 2012 spent £11,220), and this is a significant amount of money if it later transpires that you are not eligible to stand for election because of your criminal record. The other thing to consider is the considerable media interest that PCC elections can elicit. If you are found to have a conviction that makes you ineligible to stand and you have to step down or resign, you may find that this is reported in local newspapers, bringing it to light again.
Elected Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC’s), were established in 2011 to replace Police Authorities in England and Wales.
The first elections for PCC’s were held in 2012 and the second took place on 5th May 2016.
What’s the role of a PCC?
The role of the PCC’s is to be the voice of the people and hold the police to account. They are responsible for the totality of policing.
They are elected by the public to hold Chief Constables and the force to account. This effectively makes the police answerable to the communities they serve.
‘An individual will be disqualified from being elected as a PCC if they have been convicted in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man, of any imprisonable offence – whether or not actually sentenced to a term of imprisonment in respect of the offence.’
There’s a couple of important points to make about this definition:
An imprisonable offence is one for which a person who has attained the age of 18 may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment.
What questions will I be asked about my criminal record?
PCC posts are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, so a DBS check could be carried out. It is much more likely that the security vetting applicable to all police jobs would be used.
Candidates for election have to confirm on their nomination papers that they are not disqualified from standing and it is a criminal offence to make a false statement.
If it is subsequently found that an elected PCC has a conviction it is very likely that another candidate, or an elector, could challenge the election.
The elections in 2012 flagged up two cases where PCC candidates were forced to step down after very old convictions came to light.
Falkland’s war hero, Simon Weston pulled out of the election to become the PCC in South Wales after his criminal conviction for being a passenger in a stolen car at the age of 14 was questioned.
The Home Secretary, Theresa May, said that the legislation was not aimed at barring someone like Simon Weston from becoming a PCC. In direct contrast however, an independent election lawyer stated that if he were to go ahead and stand as a candidate then he could be accused of signing a false declaration at the time of this nomination.
Simon Weston later resigned and tweeted ‘With regret I am pulling out of the PCC role in South Wales having become disillusioned by the fact it was getting too political and not serving the people’.
Bob Ashford received a conviction aged 13 for trespassing on the railway with an offensive weapon. He was fined two pounds and 10 shillings. When he filled in his application to become a PCC he was asked if he had any criminal convictions to which he answered ‘Yes’. The Labour party executive committee agreed that they were happy for him to be one of their candidates and he started campaigning.
When Simon Weston’s eligibility was queried and he stepped down, Bob Ashford realised that an offence of trespass on the railway and possessing an offence weapon were considered imprisonable offences and he took the decision to resign. Read Bob’s story here.
In August 2016, UKIP’s leadership candidate Steven Woolfe admitted that he failed to declare a criminal conviction for drink driving when he stood for Police and Crime Commissioner in 2012. Mr Woolfe came last in the PCC election with 8.55% of the vote.
There are concerns within UKIP that this revelation may have an impact on his leadership ambitions. Read the whole story in the Huffington Post.
There was a further case where a candidate was able to successfully argue that his offence was not imprisonable – he ended up being successful in the election.
Alan Charles stood down from running as PCC in Derbyshire after being told that a conditional discharge he had been given when he was 14 barred him from running for election. However, barristers and legal experts advised that his conditional discharge would not disqualify him. For further information see this BBC news story.
Below you will find links to useful websites relating to this information.
This information is designed to set out how a criminal record can impact on getting a Personal Gambling Licence (known as a Personal Functional Licence).
Why is this important?
Having a criminal record is not a bar to being issued with a Personal Functional Licence. However, it is important that you know what cautions or convictions you need to disclose and how they will be dealt with.
“any individual who performs any function which enables them to influence the outcome of gambling or relates to the receiving or paying of money in connection with gambling will require a Personal Functional Licence.”
When considering the suitability of an applicant, the Gambling Commission will take account of some of the following in deciding whether or not to issue a Licence:-
Identity and ownership – Verification of your identity and any other person relevant to the application will be required by way of copies of your driving licence, passport and NI number.
Finances – Depending on the type of application you are making, you may be required to submit financial documents.
Integrity – Your honesty and trustworthiness will be assessed
Competence – You will need to provide details of your experience, expertise, qualifications and employment history.
Criminality – You will be asked to provide details of your criminal record
Guidance on completing the online Personal Functional Licence application can be found here.
What information about my criminal record do I need to disclose?
Although you are not asked to disclose details of your criminal record, a basic Disclosure and Barring Service check will be undertaken as part of the application process for a Personal Functional Licence (PFL).
How are criminal convictions dealt with?
The Gambling Commission state that they will not automatically refuse your licence application if you have a criminal record. In assessing your application they will take the following into account:-
how serious the offence was
how relevant it is to the role
how long ago it was committed
Have you been granted a licence with a criminal record?
We’re looking for examples of where people with convictions have been granted a licence with a criminal record so that we can include details here to help give people confidence to apply.
If you’ve been granted a licence with a criminal record, please email us or get in touch to let us know the details – your personal details will be kept confidential and anonymous.
For more information
Practical self-help information – More information on basic DBS checks can be found here.
To discuss this issue with others – Read and share your experiences on our online forum
Help us to add value to this information. You can:-
This page aims to set out the route to becoming a solicitor and the likely obstacles you may face if you have a criminal record.
Why is this important?
Law firms may not be averse to employing people with convictions and may only carry out basic criminal record checks. Initially however, individuals would need to meet the requirements of the Solicitors Regulation Authority to become qualified. Its important to know whether your criminal record will prove problematic before you embark on a course of study.
Training to become a solicitor demands considerable commitment over a number of years. Legal jobs are hotly contested and you will need to be determined and highly motivated to succeed.
Qualifying as a solicitor
The route to qualification as a solicitor in England and Wales requires individuals to meet the requirements set out under the Solicitors Act 1974 to ensure they are of satisfactory character and suitability. You will therefore be required to complete a screening process before you are admitted to the roll.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is responsible for setting and maintaining standards for all solicitors practising in England and Wales. They have a duty to consider the character and suitability of anyone who wishes to enter the profession, and they must ensure that any individual admitted as a solicitor has, and maintains, the level of honesty, integrity and professionalism expected by the public and other professionals, and does not pose a risk to the public or profession.
The screening process
The screening process involves validating an individual’s name, address and other personal information supplied during the application process against appropriate third party databases. Screening will also consist of completion of a Standard Disclosure and Barring Service check.
The Suitability Test
The SRA assess the character and suitability of all individuals before they start a period of recognised training (previously referred to as a training contract) against criteria set out in the Suitability Test.
If you are aware that there may be issues around your character and suitability, it is important that you disclose this as early as possible, and at least six months before you would anticipate commencing a period of recognised training. This will allow for your application to be assessed. The SRA will ask for written confirmation of the relevant issues and individuals may be asked to appear before a Solicitors Regulation Authority adjudicator to explain their situation. If you fail to disclose any cautions or convictions this could result in your being refused admission as a solicitor in England and Wales.
Many people of all ages and circumstances find great satisfaction in doing voluntary work. For people with convictions, undertaking voluntary work can have particular benefits. Volunteering can:-
Bring you into contact with new people and potentially new friends, at a time when perhaps past social contacts have been disrupted.
Boost self-confidence and self-esteem, when perhaps these have taken a knock.
Help provide a stable pattern and routine in life.
Help develop new skills, knowledge and experience – both social and practical.
Provide the satisfaction of working as part of a team to make a difference to the lives of others or to the environment.
Be useful experience to include in a CV that might be attractive to a potential employer.
Provide a source for a reference that could be invaluable when looking for paid employment.
Provide an opportunity, with some voluntary organisations, of getting a qualification e.g. an NVQ.
In some circumstances directly open up paid employment possibilities. If the organisation you are volunteering with also employs paid staff in similar work, a volunteer may make a good applicant for a paid post.
Where to find volunteering opportunities
Opportunities for voluntary work, particularly where the work is of a one off ‘work party’ nature (for example, a weekend project to renovate a canal towpath), are often advertised locally e.g. on local council, library or supermarket notice boards.
If you are interested in longer term voluntary work, or would like to talk with someone who could advise you about the kind of volunteering work that is available locally, it could be useful to make contact with your local Volunteer Centre. You may want to consider whether or not to disclose your convictions at this point – these considerations are similar to those that apply if you are looking for paid employment – see our guide ‘To disclose or not to disclose’. You may find it encouraging that the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) – an umbrella body for volunteer centres – gives very positive guidance on the use of people with criminal records as volunteers:-
“There are several reasons for recruiting people with criminal records as volunteers. Firstly, it enables you to recruit from a wider pool of potential volunteers, which should help increase your volunteer base. If organisations exclude people with criminal records they automatically lose access to a significant proportion of potential volunteers. More importantly, by proactively targeting offenders and ex-offenders as part of your recruitment campaign you are demonstrating your organisation’s commitment to equal opportunities and diversity. Each individual should be looked at on their own merit.”
Of course, the response of individual voluntary organisations to people with convictions may be very varied. The details of your local volunteer centre can be found here.
But perhaps the most useful place to find voluntary work is on the Do-Itwebsite, a database of over 1,000,000 volunteering opportunities which you can search by area and type of work.
For more details about volunteering for Unlock, visit the vacancies section of our main site.
Applying for voluntary work and the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) generally applies in the same way to voluntary work as it does to paid employment. Organisations may only ask about spent convictions or request Standard or Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service checks if the voluntary work is of a nature that is exempt from the ROA. If you are on a barred list you would be committing a criminal offence if you applied for voluntary work involving the relevant regulated activity with children or vulnerable adults.
If you are on licence or supervision
It is part of the standard licence conditions that you “Undertake only such work (including voluntary work) approved by your supervising officer and notify him or her in advance of any proposed change.”
This means that, if you have this as a condition, you will need to keep them up to date of what voluntary work you’re doing. In some situations, they may tell you to disclose your convictions, even if the organisation hasn’t asked. This might influence whether you choose to disclose or not.
Voluntary work that is not exempt from the ROA
One off ‘work-party’ type volunteering (e.g. a one-off ‘clearing of a site’ task) may not have any formal application procedure or form to complete – perhaps just a phone call to obtain details of where to turn up.
Many longer term volunteer opportunities may have a simple application form to obtain basic information for the organisation’s own record keeping and insurance purposes. There may not be any question about criminal convictions. There may be an informal interview, although if the work is of a skilled nature, perhaps involving training or a long term commitment, some organisations do have quite formal procedures for recruiting volunteers.
The considerations as to whether in these circumstances you would wish to tell someone in the organisation about your conviction are similar to those if you were seeking paid employment – see here. However, as less is at stake in disclosure of convictions as a volunteer (your source of income is not at risk) than if you are in paid employment, you might feel more positively about disclosing an unspent conviction at some stage to someone in the organisation.
An organisation should not refuse to take you on as a volunteer, or to subsequently dispense with your services, because they become aware of a conviction that is spent. However, if this happens as a volunteer you do not have the same statutory rights as a paid employee (see here). Your only redress would be to make a complaint using the organisation’s complaints procedure. A paid employee might be able to claim unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal in those circumstances, and it is a strong argument to point out that the organisation should not treat a volunteer less favourably than it can get away with in respect to an employee.
Voluntary work that is exempt from the ROA
If the voluntary work is covered by an exceptions order to the ROA – most likely a regulated activity involving children or vulnerable adults as defined in the legislation (see here) – the organisation should make it clear on their application form that they will be requesting a DBS check. There is likely to be a criminal conviction question on the application form with a statement that the role is exempt from the ROA. See our guide as to how to respond to this question. There is also likely to be a more formal recruitment and interview procedure, with references being taken up.
The organisation should not have a policy that automatically rules out taking on any volunteer with a criminal conviction. The DBS Code of Practice requires organisations seeking disclosures to have a written policy on the suitability of ex-offenders that is available on request to potential applicants. The sample policy provided by the DBS contains the statement;
[Organisation Name] undertakes not to discriminate unfairly against any subject of a criminal record check on the basis of a conviction or other information revealed
Ineligible checks by voluntary organisations
As is clear elsewhere on this site, there is a problem with ineligible checks – standard or enhanced checks being undertaken for roles which are not exempt from the ROA. Unlawful checks may be a particularly common issue in voluntary work and there are several reasons for this –
Voluntary organisations may not have the management resources to keep fully informed about the law
There is no charge to an organisation seeking a Standard or Enhanced DBS checks for volunteers, so there is no financial restraint on seeking checks
The organisation might properly wish to obtain a basic check, but would have to pay £18 – so instead obtains a free standard or enhanced check
There is a widespread misunderstanding of the legal definition of “work with vulnerable adults”, which changed completely in 2012. Organisations may not understand how limited is the scope of this exception to the ROA. The DBS explanation of regulated work with Vulnerable Adults is here.
A ten minute search on the Do-it website found that these volunteer jobs all appeared to be the subject of illegal DBS checks:
Helpers at Food banks run by a leading national charity
A volunteer walk leader working for a council
A female allotment volunteer (“You will be planting seeds, keeping beds tidy and ready for the summer”!)
If you believe that the organisation you would like to volunteer with is seeking an ineligible DBS check you should read our guide to ineligible checks. Guidance from the NCVO makes it clear to voluntary organisations that “It is illegal to apply for a check unless the role is eligible for one. You must also tell the volunteer why they are being checked”.
Volunteering and claiming benefits
Job Seekers Allowance and Employment Support Allowance
The good news is that generally you can undertake voluntary work without it affecting any state benefit. This is provided that the only money you receive is for reimbursement of any expenses you have actually incurred. There is no restriction now on the number of hours that you do, but if you receive Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA) you should inform the Job Centre if you are doing voluntary work. If you are on JSA you should be able to keep to the terms of your Job Seekers Agreement, be actively seeking work, available to attend an interview for a job at 48 hours notice, and be able to start paid employment within a week’s notice.
Volunteering England have an excellent guide to the rules, about claiming benefits and voluntary work. It is a good idea to read this before committing yourself to volunteer.
You can volunteer whilst claiming a disability benefit (Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payments), or Carer’s Allowance. If you are receiving a disability benefit or ESA you should remember that the Benefit Agency is entitled to take into account any abilities apparently shown by your voluntary work when it assesses your eligibility for the benefit. Of course the fact that you are able to do some voluntary work does not mean that you are disqualified from the benefit, but you would need to take care if, for example, your voluntary work apparently involved physical activity, and you were claiming benefit on the basis of having a physical disability.
If you receive or are making a new claim for either ESA or PIP it is useful, if you have not already done so, to get familiar with the points scoring systems that are the bases for the award of these benefits.
NCVO works to support and increase the quality, quantity, impact and accessibility of volunteering throughout England.
Step Together provides tailored one-to-one support to help individuals into volunteering placements that match their needs and interests and helps them develop new personal and practical skills.
Time Bank is a national charity inspiring and connecting a new generation of people to volunteer in their communities, and enabling charitable organisations and businesses to develop innovative and effective volunteer recruitment programmes.
Do-it was launched in 2001 with the first national database of volunteering opportunities in the UK.
The Just People website is a resource from Pact, which provides volunteers wishing to take up roles in the criminal justice system with training, vetting, volunteer placements and ongoing support and development. They work in partnership with a wide range of statutory, voluntary and community-based organisations.
Back on Track detail a number of examples that show the benefits that ex-offenders found in undertaking voluntary work in the Greater Manchester area, and give good advice about volunteering.
A study by The Griffins Society into Women ex-offenders’ experiences of volunteering found that for some of the women involved in the research “volunteering really was a life changing experience which has included making a successful career for themselves. However, in order to do this, women do have to put in hard work, show commitment and treat volunteering as if it were paid work”.
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