What is a DBS Regulated Activity?

A DBS Regulated Activity is a legal phrase used to describe specific circumstances where individuals are working or volunteering with children or vulnerable adults because of help or treatment they are receiving.

Regulated activity is work that a barred person must not do. However, it excludes any activity carried out in the course of family relationships, and personal, non-commercial relationships.

An adult is any person aged 18 years or over.

What is a DBS Regulated Activity?

The definition of Regulated Activity is different for children and adults.

For adults, the type of activity that’s classed as Regulated Activity is clearly set out in DBS Regulated Activity government guidance. This guidance helps determine eligibility for different levels of DBS checks.

Find out more about DBS Checks

Unless individuals are undertaking these activities, your organisation should not request an enhanced DBS check.

The definition of Regulated Activity focuses on the type of activity and contact an individual may have with an adult. Unlike the definition of Regulated Activity with children, the definition for adults does not stipulate a frequency requirement. For adults, the activity alone means an individual is in Regulated Activity, and one instance is enough to qualify.

Types of Regulated Activity

Within the legal framework, an individual is defined as being in Regulated Activity with adults if any one of the following six conditions is met:

  1. The individual is in contact with the person by providing healthcare. This only includes first aid when it is provided on behalf of an organisation dedicated to providing first aid, such as St. John’s Ambulance Service.
  2. The individual is in contact with a person by providing personal care. This can include physical assistance with eating, drinking, going to the toilet, washing, bathing, dressing, oral care, or care of the skin, hair, or nails because of the adult’s age, illness, or disability.
  3. The individual is in contact with the person in providing social work.
  4. The individual is in contact with the person in assisting with general household matters. Examples including managing the person’s cash, paying the person’s bills, or shopping on their behalf.
  5. The individual is in contact with the person in assisting in the conduct of their affairs. This can be as a result of:
    a)Lasting power of attorney under the Mental Capacity Act 2005
    b)Enduring power of attorney within the meaning of the Mental Capacity Act 2005
    c)Being appointed as the adult’s deputy under the Mental Capacity Act 2005
    d)Being an Independent Mental Health Advocate
    e)Being an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate
  6. The individual is in contact with the person in conveying. Any drivers and any assistants are in Regulated Activity if they transport an adult because of their age, illness or disability to or from places where they have received, or will be receiving, health care, relevant personal care, or relevant social work. However, “conveying” does not include licensed taxi drivers or licensed private hire drivers, and it does not include trips taken for purposes other than to receive health care, personal care, or social work. Pleasure trips, for example, are excluded.

How to Vet Individuals Who Are Not in Regulated Activity

If the individuals at your organisation are not in regulated activity, but you feel there’s an opportunity for them to build up a relationship of trust with an adult, what can you do to vet them?

You should first ensure that safe recruitment processes are in place.

Consider, on an individual basis, the need to conduct a DBS check. This can only be used where there is eligibility to request it, and this is dependent on the role the individual holds.

The DBS states that organisations have the responsibility to assess whether a DBS certificate at either Standard or Enhanced level is necessary for a specific role in line with the relevant legislation, and also taking into account any sector-specific statutory guidance on the matter. However, job roles should be assessed individually to confirm whether they meet the eligibility criteria. You should not blanket-check all roles.

The eligibility guidance for DBS checks can be found on the DBS website.

There is also a government online tool for checking whether your organisation can check a person’s criminal record

Finally, you can contact the DBS customer service team with any queries at CustomerServices@dbs.gsi.gov.uk or the regional outreach team at DBSregionaloutreach@dbs.gov.uk


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