Criminal Records

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Criminal Records

If you are going to be volunteering to work with children or supporting 'vulnerable' adults in particular the organisation you are looking to offer your services to may very well need to carry out a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check on you. Commonly referred to as a 'DBS check', it is undertaken to ensure that you do not have any impediments or previous convictions that would make you unsuitable for working alongside children or vulnerable adults which could put them at risk. It's also carried out for your own safety as well as the safety of those with whom you'll be working alongside. Even if you know that there is no reason for you to be concerned about a check being carried out on you as you have no previous convictions, the organisation may still have to undertake one on you anyway by law. However, to do so, they do need to obtain your permission first and, once granted, you'll be required to provide various pieces of supporting evidence such as a passport or driving license.

Prospective volunteers should not be deterred from applying for voluntary positions where a DBS check is required.

It is, after all, mandatory for certain voluntary roles and even if you have a criminal record, this may not exclude you from volunteering. In fact, many people with past criminal convictions often make some of the best volunteers and organisations are keen to attract ex-offenders as they can often shed light and offer unrivalled support to those in need, simply as the result of having gone through difficult and challenging experiences themselves.

For those with a criminal conviction

If you're not going to be working as a volunteer with children or vulnerable adults, then the only information which will be revealed as the result of a DBS check will be any convictions still deemed to be 'unspent'. Depending on the nature of your conviction, this might have no bearing whatsoever on your ability to become a valuable and productive volunteer so, even those with unspent convictions on their record might still have a very good chance to be accepted onto a voluntary program. However, if you do intend to work with children or vulnerable adults, the extent of the DBS check will be extended to incorporate 'spent' convictions too in addition to any which are unspent. The law does recognise that ex-offenders still deserve an equal opportunity to serve as a volunteer. However, your suitability for any particular voluntary role will have to be weighed up in terms of the nature of your offence, whether it is classed as a 'spent' or 'unspent' conviction, how long ago the offence was committed and whether or not the organisation feels that the conviction would have any bearing on your ability to become an effective and productive volunteer without putting anyone at risk. 

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