Disclosure and Barring Service Check or Direct Police Check


Please note that a Disclosure and Barring Service (formerly CRB) check which is known as DBS, cannot be submitted for 'birth parents or a person taking on the role of a parent as in step father/mother'. Where checks are required in respect of birth parents or step parents this will require a PNC. However, Foster Carers and prospective adopters are subject to DBS Checks.


DBS Referrals Guide: Local Authority Referral Duty and Power

DBS: A Guide to Eligibility for DBS Checks

DBS Privacy Policy

DBS: ID checking guidelines for DBS applicants


This chapter was refreshed locally in December 2022.

1. When Should a Direct Police Check be Made?

There may be instances when criminal record information is required to make an assessment, the following criteria applies:

  • When considering the welfare of a child in various domestic and matrimonial proceedings and this information is needed to inform the assessment;
  • If a local authority is proposing to return a child who has been in care to their parent (and any cohabitants aged over 18). This may be known as 'placement with parents;
  • To inform the writing of welfare reports on children, by probation officers or social workers;
  • When a new partner or adult moves into a family in respect of an open case to Children's social care.

There are sometimes emergency situations when a direct Police check is required. The following list is not exhaustive and legal advice should always be sought if there is any doubt:

  • Child Protection allegations and the child cannot remain in the care of their parent/carer. Children's Social Care are seeking family member to care for the children immediately;
  • Significant child protection concerns regarding new partner moving to live with family or having significant contact (N.B. The concerns must be included within the referral form);
  • Child subject to Child Protection Plan or being assessed in relation to child protection concerns and new partner or individual to have significant contact;
  • Powers of Police Protection - child to stay with family or friend;
  • Placement with Parent Assessment - child is Looked After and an assessment is being undertaken as to whether the child is able to either have regular overnight contact or return home to their care, but remain a Looked After child;
  • Temporary Approval of a Foster Carer (see Placement with Friends and Family Carers Procedure) - child is Looked After and a relative or friend is being approved to care for the child within a very short period of time. This would enable the child to be placed with the relative or friend, whilst a full and detailed assessment is undertaken, which would include a full Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check;
  • Private Fostering Arrangement - where there is evidence to suggest that the parent has not explored the suitability of the carers and possible safeguarding concerns have been identified.

2. When Can an Enhanced DBS Check be Requested?

If the criminal record information is required to make an assessment in the following circumstances:

  • Suitability to adopt a child (this includes Prospective Adoptive Parent and Prospective Adoptive Stepparent);
  • Obtaining information in respect of any person aged 18+ living in the same household as the prospective adopter;
  • Suitability to be a foster parent;
  • Obtaining information in respect of persons aged 18+ living in the same household as the prospective foster parent or prospective adopter;
  • Suitability for Private Fostering. This is when a child under the age of 16 (under 18 if disabled) is cared for by someone who is not their parent or a 'close relative'. This is a private arrangement made between a parent and a carer, for 28 days or more and falls within Section 66 of The Children Act 1989 or Section 53(7)(c) of Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults VGA;
  • Obtaining information in respect of individuals aged 16+ living in the same household as a person who fosters or is intending to foster a child privately.

Planned Work when Children's Social Care shall complete a DBS request.

  • Foster Carer Assessment or review at 3 years, including anyone over the age of 16 years, living in the same household;
  • Adoption Assessment, including anyone over the age of 18 years living in the same household;
  • Private Fostering Assessment (where a child under 16 years of age or 18 if disabled, is cared for by someone who is not their parent or a close relative). The arrangement is with the parent's agreement and for 28 days or more. N.B. Where the parent is believed to have given consent;
  • Special Guardianship or Child Arrangements Order Assessment.

3. When Would Either Check be Appropriate?

An example of when either route can be used is for Special Guardianship or Child Arrangements applications.

Although the Special Guardianship Regulations or the Department for Education (DfE) guidance do not state that a DBS check is required, the responsibilities involved means that it can be considered as working within a 'Regulated Activity' under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act, making it eligible for an Enhanced DBS check. If there is any doubt about what route to take it will be for the Court and organisations such as the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (CAFCASS) or the local child protection officer to provide direction.

4. Knowsley Protocol in Requesting PNC Check from the Vulnerable Person's Unit

  1. Children's Social Care to check the above guidance regarding when to undertake a DBS and when to undertake a PNC check;
  2. Children's Social Care to send a written request to the VPU, Merseyside Police on the Joint Police/CSC referral form (see Joint Social Care and Police Referral Form). The form should include the following:
    • Summary explanation as to the reason for the request;
    • Ensure that the document includes the name, dates of birth for all members of the household, and full details of the address where the individuals to be checked live;
    • Outline of timescale for PNC check - is it an emergency situation or can this wait. The VPU will prioritise requests on the basis of the timescale outlined but will aim to return within 7 days of request;
    • Where an emergency request is required out of hours, this can be made via telephoning 0151 709 6010 and request that the Duty DVLO make contact as soon as possible.
  3. The referral document should be faxed to the VPU (0151 777 6526), and a telephone call made to the VPU to check that they have received it, confirming in person where the request is urgent;
  4. VPU will check the individual(s) in question against the Police National Computer (PNC) and type the results in a resume containing relevant offences and information;
  5. The Police will keep a copy of the request form for their records;
  6. The Police will complete all requests as soon as possible but will aim to complete within 7 days;
  7. The Police will fax the information back to Children's Social Care.