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Criminal Record checks - England and Wales

It is important that we make sure that people working with children are suitable to do so. The British Horse Society's aim is to ensure that everyone can enjoy horses in a safe environment, protected from harm. We are taking reasonable measures to avoid unsuitable people being able to gain access to our young people.

The Government has introduced new safeguarding and vetting requirements which affect all individuals who have contact with children.

What is a DBS Check?

A Criminal Record Check is now known as a DBS Check in England and Wales. The Disclosure & Barring Service will check to see if the person has any criminal and/or police records and will include information about criminal convictions and cautions. They will check to see if the person has been banned from working with children. It is a criminal offence for employers or voluntary organisations to knowingly employ a barred person in regulated activity.

The DBS will provide the person (not the employer) with a certificate called a 'Disclosure'. 

Who needs to have a DBS Check?

Enhanced checks with a barred list check can only be made on those who are over 16 who are working or volunteering in a 'Regulated Activity' with children on a regular, frequent or overnight basis.

What is 'Regulated Activity' with children?

Regulated Activity is defined as unsupervised contact with children which includes teaching, training, instructing, carrying out intimate care, supervising children overnight and driving a vehicle only for children.

In England and Wales a child is a person who has not reached their 18th birthday.

What is considered to be regular, frequent or overnight?

Regular means at least once a week or more. Frequent means at least four times in a 30-day period. Overnight means between 2-6am.

If the above criteria are met, then the person must have a Enhanced DBS Check which checks the Children's barred list.

All organisations are legally required to request Enhanced DBS checks on all individuals who work or volunteer in a Regulated Activity on a regular, frequent or overnight basis.

Roles likely to require an Enhanced DBS with a barred list Check:

- Proprietor
- Chairperson
- Instructor
- Welfare Officer/Child Protection Officer
- Team Trainer/Coach
- First Aid Officer
- Camp/Team Supervisor

All of these have the expectation that they will:

- work unsupervised with children/young people under 18
- have responsibility for those who work unsupervised with children/young people under 18
- have responsibility for discipline/welfare.

If a role meets all areas but the individual is supervised they can have an Enhanced DBS Check but this will not checked the barred list. This is not a legal requirement.

General roles which are not likely to require an Enhanced DBS Check:

- One-off supervised helpers (refreshments etc.)
- Competition Judges and Jump Judges
- Parents who help only their own child
- General Stewards

All of these have the expectation that they will:

- be involved in judging, detached from children / young people under 18
- have no physical hands on involvement
- be involved in the logistical running of the yard/event.

How can the BHS help?

We liaise with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) in England and Wales to carry out the necessary checks to identify any adults who may be unsuitable to work with children or young people under 18.

Completing a DBS Check

We have recently launched an online system for checks in England and Wales with our partners Disclosure Services. This new service is faster, easy to use and will enable organisations to quickly carry out DBS Checks on their staff.

Completing an Online DBS Application - England and Wales

Proprietors or Riding Club Chairmen should contact the BHS Safeguarding Team to request to be set up for Online DBS Checks. The proprietor or Riding Club Chairman will be sent a username and password to access the online application process.

To complete the process the individual will need their identity documents with all the addresses they have lived at in the last five years, their National Insurance number. The individual will need to log on and follow the step-by-step guide online to complete their application.

What happens next?

The BHS will be notified by Disclosure Services that an application has been completed and the result will be emailed to the BHS. The individual will receive their Disclosure Certificate through the post from the DBS. The individual must show this Disclosure Certificate to their employer.

The Disclosure Certificate is the individual's personal property and it is their responsibilty to keep it in a safe place.

Under exceptional circumstances, the BHS are able to offer a paper based DBS Application process. DBS Application Forms are available from the BHS Safeguarding team. 

We also process applications and carry out checks on behalf of many British Equestrian Federation (BEF) member bodies. If you have been asked to complete a disclosure for any member body, you will need to contact them directly first.

How much does a DBS Check cost?

There are four possible charges depending on whether the individual is paid for the role that they need to have the DBS Check for or not and how they choose to have their ID Documents verified.

£59: I am applying for a DBS Check for a job that I am paid to do and I am sending in my ID documents to the BHS for verification.

£54: I am applying for a DBS Check for a job that I am paid to do and I have had my ID documents verified by a BHS Approved Evidence Checker.

£15: I am applying for a DBS Check for a job that I do as a volunteer* and I am sending in my ID documents to the BHS for verification.

£10: I am applying for a DBS Check for a job that I do as a volunteer* and I have had my ID Documents verified by a BHS Approved Evidence Checker.

All cheques and postal orders must be made payable to The British Horse Society and be sent to the British Horse Society with the DBS Cover Sheet/Application Form. For organisations, online DBS applications can be invoiced out directly.

*The DBS defines a volunteer as 'a person who performs any activity which involves spending time, unpaid (except for travelling and other out-of-pocket expenses), doing something which aims to benefit someone (individuals or groups) other than or in addition to close relatives'.

Who can check an individual's ID documents?

- BHS Headquarters
- BHS Regional Development Officer or Nation Director
- BHS Inspector
- BHS Assessor
- Proprietor of a BHS Approved Centre, if they are happy to do so
- Visit the BHS Stand at one of the major equine shows
- The Post Office also offer an ID verification service please see Post Office website

To carry out a DBS check for your organisation in England and Wales please contact:

BHS Safeguarding Team

02476 840746

Frequently Asked Questions

What if your employee or volunteer has a criminal record?

This depends on the nature of the information on their disclosure certificate. You can seek advice from the BHS Lead Safeguarding Officer (02476 840746) and the BEF Safeguarding Case Management Group to make a risk assesment as to their suitability to work with children.

Having a criminal record does not necessarily mean that a person cannot work with children.

What is Regulated Activity relating to adults?

The definition for an individual involved in Regulated Activity when working with adults includes working in healthcare, providing personal care, social work, assisting with general household matters, assisting an adult to conduct their personal affairs, or conveying.

Should a situation arise whereby an individual could build a trusting relationship with an adult, best practice would be to carry out a DBS Check against the Child and Adult workforce, but only the Barred List check for Working with Children could be checked. If this applies to your employees or volunteers, please contact the Lead Safeguarding Officer on 02476 840746 to discuss their application.

How often do DBS Checks need renewing?

The BHS require that those individuals working within 'regulated activity' with children must have their DBS Check renewed every three years.

Can we accept Disclosure Certiciates from other organisations?

The DBS have now launched their Update Service, which means the British Horse Society can accept certificates and Checks made through other jobs and roles providing the individual has signed up for the DBS Update Service.

Individuals who received their DBS Disclosure Certificate after 17 June 2013 and signed up to the DBS Update Service within 19 days of receiving their Disclosure certificate will be able to give the BHS permission to access their criminal record status online, provided that the same type and level of check has previously been requested.

The DBS Update Service costs £13 per year, or is free for volunteers. This is payable directly to the DBS.

For more information or to sign up to the Update Service visit

For applications in Ireland:
Susan Spratt
02842 788681 Mobile: 07808 141079

Further information can also be found at these websites and downloads (links open in new windows):

Disclosure and Barring Service
Disclosure Scotland
Access Northern Ireland 
DBS Code of Practice 
BHS address history factsheet

BEF Member Body contacts

British Dressage
02476 698830

British Equestrian Federation
World Class Programme
02476 698871

British Eventing
02476 698821

British Horse Driving Trials Association
Contact: Mary Kusin
0845 643 2116

British Reining
Contact: Susannah Anderson
01435 831656

British Showjumping
Contact: Rebecca Turner
02476 698810

Endurance GB
Contact: Heather Weston

Mounted Games Association Great Britain
Contact: Alison Davies

The Pony Club
Contact: Stefanie Brazier
02476 698323

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