DBS and health checks

DBS checks

As part of the admissions and selection process applicants are required to complete a self-declaration form indicating if they have any criminal offences.

When an applicant is invited to interview they will be sent a self-declaration form, requesting information about any criminal convictions they may have. They will be asked to bring the completed form to interview in a sealed envelope marked as confidential. The admissions administrator will collect the envelope on the day of the interview. If the applicant is offered a place on the programme, the admissions tutor will check the form for disclosures. When a candidate is not offered a place the envelope will be discarded unopened in the confidential waste disposal.

When a declaration has been made, the admissions tutor with meet with the programme director to complete the criminal convictions/ suitability scoring grid.

      0        1        2        3        4        5    
Seriousness            
Recency            
Pattern/ frequency duration            
Risk to persons            
Risk to property/ finance            
Risk to agency reputation            
Age at the time of the offence            

0= low significance

5 = high significance

A score of 25+ would normally be a matter for refusal of a place. In these circumstances, and following relevant internal procedures, the University may decide to refuse a place without consulting partner agencies.

Seriousness

  • High risk: Custodial sentences
  • Medium risk: Suspended, community, conditional discharge
  • Low risk: Warning, caution, reprimand, fine, absolute discharge

Recency

  • High risk: Less than 3 years ago
  • Medium risk: 3 – 10 years ago
  • Low risk: More than 10 years ago

Patterns /Frequency/ Duration

  • High risk: Pattern evident
  • Medium risk: Some pattern evident
  • Low risk: No pattern evident

Risk to persons

Consider the relationship to social work practice and any aggravating circumstances.

Risk to property / finance

Consider the relationship to social work practice and any aggravating circumstances (eg exploitation / breach of trust)

Risks to agency reputation

This is about credibility of professional delivering services to vulnerable users. However ‘rehabilitated’ some offences might always deny a career in social work.

Age at time of offence

Links back to recency, but may either add to or counter-balance it.

A total score of 5 or less will be a matter for the admissions tutor and programme director to make a decision on suitability. Scores 6 and over will result in the applicant being asked to meet with the programme tutor and programme director to establish:

  • what happened
  • what the circumstances were
  • what the applicant’s view of the incident is now
  • how the applicant understands its relevance to social work training.

Following this interview, the University may seek, with the applicant’s consent, corroborating information concerning the account of the situation.

An account of the applicant’s response and any other supporting information will be written up, and a recommended course of action identified. The write-up will include assessing the seriousness of the offence against the grid. Universities may also seek advice from the HCPC regarding the acceptability of the student as a registered student social worker once qualified. The applicant will receive a copy of the interviewers’ report, and may submit their own written representations in addition to the interviewers’ report.

In accordance with the Universities guidelines for the recruitment of students with a criminal conviction 3.4, in the case of a serious conviction, the application should be referred to the Director of Student Recruitment, Access and Admissions who will convene a group to decide whether the nature of the conviction changes the decision to offer a place or whether special conditions should be attached to the offer.

Procedure following registration

After a student has accepted a place and registered on the programme, they are required to complete an Enhanced Declaration form for the DBS. The student will be required to pay for the DBS check and for registration/payment for the DBS Update Service for the duration of  the programme. For further information: https://www.gov.uk/dbs-update-service

Alongside the DBS check and Update Service, students are asked to sign a form at the start of each year, confirming that there has been no change in relation to their offences or other relevant circumstances. National arrangements for DBS clearance have recently changed and there is now a DBS Update Service which will allow Universities to check applicants who have signed up to the service online (with their consent) rather than completing a new DBS form and ID check every time an update is required. (https://www.gov.uk/dbs-update-service). 

In addition to the enhanced DBS check, students are required to declare past disciplinary offences. Both universities also ask students to advise them if they have ever been involved in providing care for someone, and that care has been subject of a protection enquiry by a local authority. In the rest of this document, references to ‘offences or other relevant circumstances’ include all of these issues.

Procedure following identification of past offences or other relevant circumstances

  1. Where self-declaration forms and DBS returns are clear, they are retained for up to 6 months, after which they are disposed of securely. The certificate numbers are recorded and filed.
  2. All forms that reveal an offence or other relevant circumstances are screened by the relevant member of the academic staff, using government guidelines. Failure of a student to disclose a relevant offence at the admissions stage will normally lead to the matter being regarded as more serious. (For definitions of minor and serious offences see scoring grid).
  3. Where disclosure have been identified the admissions tutor will check the records from the admissions stage for any discrepancies. Where there are discrepancies the admissions tutor and programme director will meet with the student to discuss and the scoring grid will be completed again.

Procedure for students going on placement with convictions

Where a student has a score of 6-25 this will be a matter for consultation with partner agencies.

All relevant documentation will then be submitted to a Panel of three people made up of two representatives of the five regional local authorities, and one member of the relevant University staff, to consider the recommendation. The local authority staff who participate in this Panel will be drawn, on the basis of availability, from a pool of people nominated by the Director of each participating department. Where possible, each case should be considered by representatives from different authorities, and from adults and children’s services.

Health checks

As part of the admissions and selection process applicants are required to complete a health screening form indicating if they have any health concerns that might make them unsuitable for social work training.

When an applicant is invited to interview they will be sent the form, requesting information about any health related issues that could impact on their ability to successfully undertake social work training. They will be asked to bring the completed form to interview in a sealed envelope marked as confidential. The admissions administrator will collect the envelope on the day of the interview. If the applicant is offered a place on the programme, the admissions tutor will check the form for disclosures. When a candidate is not offered a place the envelope will be discarded unopened in the confidential waste disposal.

Where an applicant makes a health declaration that could impact on their ability to undertake training, the admissions tutor will liaise with the University Occupation Health Department who will contact the applicant directly. As a result of disclosed information the admissions tutor may also encourage the student to liaise with disability support services if appropriate.

Before commencing the programme all applicants in receipt of an offer will be required to complete a comprehensive health questionnaire, this is a confidential document that is sent directly to the applicant from the University Occupational Health Service; applicants are required to return the form directly to Occupational Health Services. Where declarations have been made the University Occupational Health Service may ask the applicant for further information; this could include seeking permission to contact the applicant’s General Practitioner and may also involve the applicant participating in an independent medical review.

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