DBS making representations


If the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) writes to say you may be barred from working/volunteering in regulated activity with children and /or adults, you can make representations. 

You can also make representations if you know that a referral has been made about you.

GOV.UK explains that the DBS makes decisions whether to bar a person from working in regulated activity with children and/or adults where the person has:

  • Been convicted of or cautioned for certain offences, known as autobar offences (relevant offences in England and Wales)
  • Harmed a child or vulnerable adult, or when DBS considers the person poses a risk of harm to a child or vulnerable adult

We have published another support article about the topic of enhanced DBS checks for school staff.

In this support article, we explain how you can practically make representations, when they can be made and link to further reading on the topic.

DBS making representations: what does it mean?

GOV.UK explains that representations are an opportunity to explain why you feel it would be inappropriate or disproportionate for the DBS to include you in one or both barred lists. 

In certain circumstances, if you are included in both lists, you may be allowed to make representations against your inclusion in one list, but not the other.

You will be advised if you can make representations or not when DBS write to you.

GOV.UK explains it is important that you think about the value of the information and evidence that you are going to supply for representations.

For example, if you’re sending in a character reference from a friend as support, it can have a higher evidential value if the friend has knowledge of why you are being considered for a barred list. If the friend doesn’t have this knowledge, the evidential value may be lower.

If you are an existing Edapt subscriber we will be able to assist in preparing your representations.

It’s important to understand that making representations doesn’t guarantee that you will not be included in a barred list. But supplying your representations helps DBS to have all relevant information to support fair and balanced decision-making.

As with written representations, oral representations provide an opportunity to explain why you feel it would be inappropriate or disproportionate for DBS to include you in one or both of the barred lists.

You can find out more in the oral representations guide.

Examples of documents for representations

DBS considers all the information you supply as part of the representations process; which can be from a wide range of sources.

The list below is not exhaustive, but will give some examples of the types of information which may be useful for representations:

  • Explanation of your offending behaviour
  • Mitigating factors for your offending behaviour
  • Insight into, or remorse for your offending behaviour
  • Action taken by you, or courses completed to address your offending behaviour
  • Pre-sentence reports (e.g. OASys reports, judge’s sentencing remarks, probation service reports, or social services assessments)
  • Relevant medical reports or assessments from medical experts
  • Relevant specialist assessments by other professionals
  • Career history/details
  • Professional references
  • Testimonials (character statements)
  • Errors of fact in evidence

When can representations be made?

You can make representations before you receive a minded to bar letter. However, DBS won’t need to consider your representations until they reach a decision that you may be barred. Most cases are closed (no bar) before they reach this stage.

Once the minded to bar/intended to bar letter is received, you’ll have 8 weeks to make representations (provide evidence or information) about why you shouldn’t be barred.

Representations are then carefully considered by DBS, before making a final decision whether to bar.

If during the representations process DBS is provided with any additional information that is used in the decision making process, the person will be given the opportunity to make comments (representations) about that information as well.

What happens if representations are not made?

There is no legal need for you to make representations, but it’s important you’re aware of what can happen if you choose not to.

Inclusion in a DBS barred list will last for your lifetime; although you are able to request a review after a minimum timescale has passed, depending on your age at the time of inclusion in the list(s).

A range of information from a variety of sources will be used to make barring decisions. If you’re convicted/cautioned of a relevant offence or the evidence held by DBS allows us to make certain findings on the balance of probabilities, then DBS will consider whether it is appropriate to include you in one or both lists. DBS do this by carrying out an assessment of risk.

DBS will make a decision about whether you should be included in both, or either of the children’s or adults’ barred lists or should not be barred.

Making representations is an opportunity for you to give your interpretation of circumstances that led to the referral.

If you are cautioned or convicted of an autobar offence (with the right to make representations) and you choose not to, by law DBS has no discretion and must include you in one or both lists, after the 8 week representations period has ended. The list you will be placed in will depend on the circumstances of the offence. This means you will be barred from working in regulated activity with children or vulnerable adults or both.

DMS making representations: process timescales

You’ll have 8 weeks to make representations. You’ll also be given an extra 2 days from the date on your notification letter to allow for postage.

If you feel you need more time to provide representations, you should contact the barring team and request a time extension. This will be considered, and may be allowed depending on why you feel that you need an extension.

For effective safeguarding, the DBS needs to make barring decisions as soon as possible. Ongoing extensions for representations won’t be allowed, and we can’t delay progressing a case which is pending an appeal at the Court of Appeal. In these situations, DBS may re-examine your case in light of new information (such as a conviction being overturned at a later date).

Once you have made your representations, it isn’t possible to give a fixed timescale on when a case will be decided. There are many factors that need to be taken into account. For example, we may ask for further information and have to wait for a response from a third party.

You will be notified of the DBS final decision whether to include you in a barred list.

DBS making representations: Additional reading

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The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
While Edapt has sought to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date, it is not responsible and will not be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences, including any loss arising from relying on this information. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence. If you are an Edapt subscriber with an employment-related issue, please contact us and we will be able to refer you to one of our caseworkers.