DBS Checks for Faith Charities working with Children

Disclaimer: This is not legal advice. If you need help with making sure you are complying with the law, you should speak to a legal advisor. These guidelines are specifically for working with children, please see our separate guidelines and examples for working with at-risk adults

To recruit staff and volunteers safely you should get:

  • references
  • a job history
  • identity documents
  • overseas checks, if relevant. For more information, please see these guidelines.
  • a check on their criminal record, also known as getting a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, if relevant

The role of the DBS is to protect the public by helping employers make safer recruitment decisions and by barring individuals who pose a risk to vulnerable groups from working and volunteering in certain roles. DBS carries out checks (previously known as CRB checks) that result in certificates being issued to an individual. Employers can then ask to see this certificate to ensure that they are recruiting suitable people into their organisation.

Getting a DBS check for Staff and Volunteers

You may need to ask staff and volunteers to get a DBS check. There are different levels of checks. Which check you should ask for depends on what type of work the person does. Paid members of staff and volunteers can both access the same level of DBS check. For more information about submitting a DBS check, or questions about eligibility, please contact SFI or your local safeguarding lead.

Staff and volunteers in places of worship can get one of the following checks:

The organisation you use to submit checks may charge an additional admin fee.

Find out more information about all types of DBS checks and barring.

Enhanced checks: Who is eligible?


In faith centres, the main activities that will make a role eligible for an Enhanced DBS check with or without a children’s Barred List check are as follows:

  • teaching, training or instructing children
  • care and supervision of children
  • providing advice and guidance wholly or mainly to children in relation to their emotional, physical or educational wellbeing – e.g. advice on staying healthy while fasting, educational advice when considering a life of faith or emotional guidance when going through difficult times in life such as bereavement.
  • driving children
  • day to day management of people undertaking these activities

These activities are known as ‘regulated activities’ when they are done on more than 3 days in any 30-day period and this allows for the addition of the children’s Barred List check.

Where the role provides personal care to children, this is also a regulated activity, but only needs to occur on one or more occasion. Personal care would include physical assistance with toileting and washing or eating or drinking where the child cannot do it for themselves.


While less common, some activities with adults would make a role of faith centre eligible for an Enhanced DBS check with or without an adults’ Barred List check.

The following are examples (not a complete list):

  • assisting an adult who can’t manage the day-to-day running of their household, relating to managing the adult’s cash, paying the adult’s bills or doing their shopping because of their age, illness or disability
  • conveying certain adults to and from faith centre (for example, driving a minibus on behalf of the faith centre to enable people who would otherwise not be able to attend due to age, illness or disability)

Please see this page for further example and more information on eligibility for enhanced checks when working with adults.

How do I apply for an Enhanced DBS check for my faith centre’s staff or volunteers?

  1. Individuals can apply for their own basic DBS checks through the DBS website or through a registered organisation.
  2. For any other level of DBS check, ask SFI or an umbrella body for an application form.  SFI can often subsidise the cost for DBS checks for Faith Centres in England. 
  3. Give the form to the applicant to fill in.
  4. The applicant will return the completed form to you along with documents proving their identity.
  5. Send the completed application form to your umbrella body.
  6. DBS will send a certificate to the applicant. You must ask the applicant to show you the certificate so you can check it’s genuine.

What is regulated activity?

Regulated activity is work that a barred person must not do by law. A full list of regulated activities with children can be found here.

An organisation that carries out regulated activity is a regulated activity provider. As a regulated activity provider, you have a legal duty under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 to refer an individual to DBS where the relevant conditions are met. This means that you must inform DBS when there is a safeguarding concern. For more information on when and how to make a referral to DBS please go to the DBS website (Making a referral to DBS).