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Disclosure & Barring Service - DBS solicitors

Stephensons has a team of specialist DBS lawyers who advise and defend a wide range of professionals facing barring by the Disclosure and Barring Service. Our DBS lawyers have extensive experience of acting for individuals at risk of being included in the Children’s and/or Adult’s Barred List. If you have received a ‘Minded To Bar’ letter from the DBS contact our specialist team of lawyers without delay on 0161 696 6159.

Being added to one of the barred lists means that you will be prevented from working in a regulated capacity with children and/or vulnerable adults. Therefore any decision to bar will have serious implications professionally and it is vital that you seek advice from specialist DBS lawyers as soon as possible.

If you have received a letter from the DBS stating they are minded to bar you from working with children or vulnerable adults, our specialist DBS lawyers can assist. Our DBS solicitors have helped a number of clients avoid barring decisions. We have secured successful outcomes for clients working in the healthcare, education, sports and ecclesiastical sectors. Our solicitors can assist with preparing written representations to the DBS and, where necessary, appeals against barring decisions.

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DBS representation

The DBS will consider barring you when they have cause to believe you have engaged in ‘relevant conduct’. This may include conduct likely to endanger a child or vulnerable adult and conduct of a sexual nature. The DBS will often investigate matters either alongside or subsequent to criminal investigations and/or enforcement action by regulatory bodies. It is important to note that an acquittal before the criminal courts or a positive outcome before a regulatory tribunal will not prevent the DBS from making a decision to bar.

Who are the Disclosure and Barring Service?

The Disclosure and Barring Service came into existence in 2012 and replaced two separate organisations:

  • The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB)
  • The Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA)

It deals with

  • Disclosure of information in criminal record checks (disclosure functions)
  • Determining whether individuals should be added to, maintained, or removed from the barred lists (barring functions)

The Disclosure and Barring Service deal with determinations on whether an individual undertaking a regulated activity with either vulnerable adults or children should be barred from doing that activity.

The DBS may receive a referral to consider barring an individual from working with vulnerable adults and/or children in one of the following ways:

  • Autobar referral – this arises from a notification of a conviction or caution for specified ‘relevant offences’ which can then result in either:
    • Automatic barring without representations - meaning that the individual will be barred from regulated activity or
    • Automatic barring with representations – which provides the individual an opportunity of making representations that the DBS will consider before making a final determination of whether the person should be added to the barred list.
  • Consideration of whether to bar following disclosure of information on a criminal record certificate. This would follow an application for a certificate (required when working with children or vulnerable adults) that reveals a conviction, caution or other information which raises concern.
  • A referral from an employer, regulatory body or other organisation where there is a legal duty do so e.g. following dismissal from employment or disciplinary proceedings where there is harm or potential harm to a child or adult. This can include cases where somebody resigns from a post or activity before a safeguarding investigation is concluded. 

The objective of a barring consideration it to prevent unsuitable people working or having unsupervised contact with the vulnerable group. Following a referral, the DBS will write to the person concerned to inform them of the investigation and process (Notice of Investigation letter).

There is no need to respond to an initial notification because the DBS will then advise whether they are considering barring or taking no further action. However, there may be circumstances when it is prudent to make an initial response and provide information to assist the DBS in their inquiry.

The consideration of whether someone should be barred from working with children and/or vulnerable adults breaks down into the following considerations:

A person needs to either be undertaking a regulated activity with children and/or vulnerable adults now, in the past or be likely to do so in the future. This is known as the test for regulated activity and the term itself is defined in guidance provided by the DBS:

In very general terms, ‘regulated activity’ is concerned with activities which are seen as placing someone in a vulnerable position, for example through a relationship of trust or dependency. There are different definitions of regulated activity, depending on whether an activity involves children or adults.

If the DBS determine that the threshold may be met for barring then they will advise you that they are minded to bar and ask you to make representations (Minded to Bar letter). This will involve consideration of whether you have been in fact, are or maybe in the future involved in ‘regulated activity’ and whether the alleged conduct gives rise to a risk of harm to children or vulnerable adults (as per the referral for consideration of whether to add you to the children or adult barred list).

The letter will provide reasoning why it is considered appropriate that you should be added to the barred list. Responses should be provided normally within 8 weeks, but this is not something to leave until the last minute as evidence may need to be gathered to support representations against a minded to bar decision.

The consequence of being added to the barred list means that you will not be able to undertake work or voluntary roles involving regulated activity with either children, vulnerable adults or both. Anybody attempting to do so commits a criminal offence as does any organisation or employer who appoints somebody who is barred.

There is normally a minimum period of barring so the outcome can have very serious consequences on employment or volunteering. This minimum period is based in your age when barred:

  • Under 18 years - 1 year
  • 18 to 24 years - 5 years
  • 25 years or over - 10 years

Representations against a minded to bar decision

Our specialist team can offer advice on making representations against barring and have wide experience of a range of scenarios which have led to consideration being given to making an entry on the barring lists.

Mike Pemberton, has successfully assisted a substantial number of clients from a variety of backgrounds (including foster carers, social care workers, doctors, nurses, midwives, teachers, care home managers, previous domestic abuse victims and members of religious groups) in preparing representations against barring to convince the DBS that a barring order is not necessary or appropriate.

He is recognised as a leading individual by The Legal 500 where in 2022 he was noted for managing "the civil liberties and public law unit, dealing with cases involving public law or human rights issues."

The team also regularly represent clients in barring appeals to the Upper Tribunal Administrative Appeals Chamber.

What our clients say

"Professional and personable approach, this made me feel confident. I was given guidance that was easy to understand and was very impressed with Mike who helped me focus during a difficult situation. In one word - outstanding!!!"

“I can't thank Mike Pemberton, and Natalie Tolley enough for all the support, both legally and personally that they gave me from beginning to end. Every question was responded to within the same day, and every verbal conversation was done in a very concerning way.
Once again thank you for all your help my life can begin again now because of you.”

“The words I have don’t seem enough. Its crazy to think that someone I have never met could have such a big impact on my life, the way you treat people the way you speak to people and explain things. From the bottom of my heart I want to thank you, I was so lucky to stumble across your name in my google search.”

“I received the letter this morning - no further action. Please pass on my thanks to Mike for his help in this case, much appreciated.” 

“Mr Pemberton, I want to thank you for your professional advice and expertise which has been very important in achieving this result.  I am most grateful to you for the time you spent in mastering all the details in this long story and thereby obtaining a decision which will, I hope, allow me to begin rebuilding my life after the last 5 years and 2 months in limbo.”

“I received this from DBS on Friday evening; You can imagine my apprehension as I opened the envelope, and my relief on reading its contents when I had!  I am immensely grateful to you for all you have done. Many, many thanks indeed.”

For advice on barring disputes contact our team on 0161 696 6159 or you can complete an online enquiry form and a member of the team will contact you directly.

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