Tuesday, 7 April 2015

DBS: It's only a piece of paper.

Today I am going to tell you something that may surprise you, but I want to educate you.

As you know I photograph children and babies in my Barnsley Photography Studio - and I don't have a CRB/DBS Check.

Are you shocked? Surprised? Do you think I should have one? I'm going to tell you something else that may surprise you.

I don't need one.

In December 2012 the Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) came into force following the merger of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). 

It is not lawful to ask someone if they have a DBS/CRB Check unless they meet a specific criteria.

To be eligible for a DBS Check the position must be:

  • Listed in the Rehabilitation of offenders Act (ROA) 1974 (Exceptions) Orders 1975 - this entitles to the position to a Standard level check, and if
  • Prescribed in The Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) Regulations entitles the position to an Enhanced level check.

A photographer is not listed in this legislation and therefore as a standalone profession is not eligible for the checks to be carried out against them.

If an individual is regarded as working in "Regulated Activity" then enhanced and barred list may ensue. In order to meet RA, an individual must meet another set of criteria. In relation to children this must be teaching, training, supervising or caring for them.

The role of a photographer does not meet the aforementioned criteria either.
This means that not only is it unlawful to ask a photographer for a DBS/CRB check - it's actually not possible. The DBS are aware of organizations unlawfully requesting individuals to undergo a check, where there is no legal entitlement to do so.

So what happens if your photographer tells you they have a DBS/CRB Check?

Don't instantly think that they are lying, they may work part time in a job that requires one (teaching, nurse etc) but their DBS/CRB only covers the for the Job that is listed on the DBS Check. 

When I worked in a Nursery I was Ofsted approved to work with under 7's but that is not something that I can use in marketing due to the length of time since the job - and that it was related to only that job.

If you go to the shoot alone and have to pop out to the car, or to the loo - then if you feel uneasy having your child(ren) alone with the photographer - ask for a break and take your child(ren) with you. 

Always trust your gut feeling - we all understand - but please remember it's not legally able for us to have a DBS/CRB Check.

My own personal view of the DBS
For me, a DBS checks criminal history to make sure vulnerable people are not put in danger. It shows what you have been charged and convicted of. It doesn't cover anything else. This is why when "high-profile" cases are on TV a lot of people are shocked that they weren't stopped sooner - but there was no reason to.
A DBS could be printed and show clear, and you could be arrested for something 3 days later after receiving it - but you still have a clear DBS.
Personally, trust your gut feeling - that's generally a better judge of character for me than a piece of paper.

I hope this makes a bit more light regarding DBS/CRB and photographers remember - there is nothing legal for you to require one - and it's unlawful to ask someone for one.

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