Questions we have been asked this month


22 March, 2016

International DBS Checks

Q: What Disclosure and Barring Service checks should be carried out on individuals who have lived or worked outside of the UK for a period of time?

A: Disclosure and barring checks provide schools and colleges with one method for assessing job candidates and / or volunteers' suitability for working with children.

There is no specific application that is required for persons who have worked or are currently working abroad. Individuals who have lived or worked outside the UK must undergo the same DBS checks as all other members of staff; however these checks will be limited in that they may omit details of any overseas convictions.

In order to protect their position, therefore, schools and colleges must ensure they are making further appropriate checks so that any relevant events which may have occurred outside of the UK are taken account of.

This may include obtaining a copy of the individual's criminal record in the relevant country, or obtaining a letter from the embassy to confirm that the individual has not been involved in any unsuitable conduct. It may also be appropriate in certain circumstances to obtain references from previous places of study or employment if, for whatever reason, the above are not forthcoming. More information is available at

Q: How often, if at all, do you need to renew the DBS for their staff?

A: A DBS check in itself doesn't have an official expiry date and it is up to an employer to decide if and when a new check is needed. As a School or College you will need to comply with the 'Keeping Children Safe in Education' - Statutory Guidance. This places a duty on schools to create a culture of safer recruitment. There is, however, no express provision which provides for how often a DBS check should be done on existing staff members.

From experience we are aware that some schools will do checks every three years whereas other schools will complete checks on an annual basis. Your decision is therefore likely to be made by taking into account the relevant cost and risk-factors in your organisation.

In addition, there is a DBS update service which you are able to sign up for. This would automatically notify you of any changes to an individual's status. We would suggest that the update service is viewed as a process of enhancing your safeguarding procedure and not a replacement service. For example, it may be that if you sign up to the DBS update service you then only carry out new checks less regularly, perhaps every 5 years.

If you are looking for any more information with regards to our services view our Education section. You can also contact Jonathan Holden in our Education department via email or phone on 01772 220396 / 07976 278888. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.


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