Specialist Disclosure and Barring Service Lawyer, Ruth Peters, considers when the Disclosure and Barring Service are able to disclose information relating to third parties on Enhanced DBS Checks.
We are receiving increasing numbers of enquiries from individuals who have applied for an enhanced DBS check and subsequently receive correspondence from police forces indicating that they are considering disclosing information relating to a third party.
This often relates to a family member or individual that the police consider have a close relationship with the applicant and such third party either has convictions for various offences or is under investigation. We generally find that this tends to relate to offences of a sexual nature; for example possessing indecent images of children.
The police ask about contact such third parties may have with the vulnerable through the applicant especially where the application is a Home Based one.
Are the Disclosure and Barring Service able to disclose information that does not relate to the applicant?
In some specific circumstances disclosure relating to third parties is allowed in relation to Enhanced DBS Checks. There is a prescribed decision making framework called the Quality Assurance Framework (QAF) which is used for the processing, consideration and disclosure of police information for enhanced disclosure and barring service checks.
There is a specific section of the QAF which is intended to help assist in determining whether it is reasonable to consider that a third party may gain relevant access to children or the vulnerable.
What will the police take into account
For the information to be disclosed, there needs to be a reasonable reason to believe that the third party may gain relevant access to the vulnerable.
Types of considerations that may assist are as follows:-
- Does the information suggest that the third party may be related to the applicant?
- Is there anything to suggest that the third party resides at or has regular access to the applicant’s address?
- Was the application referred as a home based organisation?
- Does information suggest that the applicant has in the past worked in a role for which one would consider a third party risk?
- Do the registered body or employer details suggest employment which would make third party risk a consideration?
- Is it reasonable to consider that the third party may have or gain relevant access to the vulnerable through the applicant through their work or regulated activity?
It needs to be established that there exists a reasonable connection between the third party and the applicant and that this may provide the third party with access to the vulnerable via the applicant’s role. It then needs to be established that the third party has information that demonstrates that they may pose a significant risk of harm to the vulnerable through the applicant.
Finally the Quality Assurance Framework states “a disclosure must be meticulous and not exceed its purpose”.
Can I make representations that this information should not be disclosed?
Whilst there is no requirement for police forces to notify applicants and allow them the opportunity to make representations, it is usual practice that they will do so. Generally speaking, a police force will write to an applicant indicating that they are considering the disclosure of such information and requesting representations, usually within a period of 14 days although this can be extended upon request.
Should I make representations?
We cannot stress enough how important it is to make representations as this can stop the information being disclosed. Whilst applicants can of course make the representations themselves they may wish to instruct a solicitor to prepare such representations for them and liaise with the police force on their behalf.
Olliers Solicitors have significant experience of preparing such representations and successfully persuading police forces not to disclose third party information.
What about human rights?
Of course human rights are significant in relation to disclosure of information and again this is referred to in the QAF.
The Chief Officer must satisfy themselves when undertaking the process that they have considered the human rights of all relevant parties, they have considered offering the opportunity to make representations and where representations have been made they have taken them into account.
The QAF specifically states ‘if a negative impact on the applicant’s private life (including employment prospects) is far greater than the potential risk of harm to the vulnerable, a decision not to disclose may be the appropriate one’.
Contact a Specialist Disclosure & Barring Service Solicitor
If you have received correspondence from the police force indicating that they are considering disclosing third party information, we would suggest that you contact Ruth Peters on 0161 834 1515, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or click here to contact us. We can prepare representations for you for an agreed fee and liaise with the police on your behalf.