Facepaint UK Blog

Do I need a DBS check?

Sep 27, 2021

We have revised our previous article which was called “To CRB or not the CRB” in the light of changes to legislation.

DBS stands for Disclosure and Barring Service, and is roughly the equivalent of what used to be called a CRB check. This was always a contentious subject, with many agents and corporate employers demanding that face painters have one before they would give them work.

DBS was created by combining and replacing the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) under the Protection

of Freedoms Act 2012. Only ‘regulated activity’ falls under the scheme. It applies only in England and Wales, Scotland has its own system under Disclosure

Scotland and Northern Ireland under AccessNI.

The checks are only available to an employer or organisation, which has registered with them and abides by a code of practice due to the nature of the information being requested and held. The categories of employment are strictly limited, and face painting per se does not fall into them.

It seems that a ‘safety’ bandwagon has been jumped on with perhaps insufficient knowledge of what is involved and without regard for the relevance to our activities just because it sounds reassuring. Face painters are very unlikely to be left alone with children, and we are with any one child for less than 10 minutes, usually very publicly and in the presence of their parent or carer. There is a danger that some face painters are being quite unreasonably denied employment simply because they really are professional face painters, and do not have other unrelated jobs where a DBS check could have been made.

If the person or organisation wishes to check on the criminal background of an entertainer, then it is THEIR responsibility to do so, but they will find that they cannot, unless the same performer is employed frequently and repeatedly with the same children or vulnerable adults.

The activity must be carried out:
• Frequently (once a week or more often), or on 4 or more days in a 30-day period;
• By the same person, engaged in work for or in connection with the purposes of the establishment; and
• Gives the person the opportunity, in their work, to have contact with children. Day to day management or supervision on a regular basis of a person providing the above regulated activity, (or an activity which would be considered regulated activity if they were not adequately supervised) for children is regulated activity for children.

A check should not be obtained for an individual who doesn’t need one. An employer can only ask for a barred list check for specific roles. It is a criminal offence to ask for a check for any other roles.

This is the description of one of the exemptions to Regulated Activity “Activity by person contracted (or volunteering) to provide occasional or temporary services (not teaching, training or supervision of children)”. It is quite clear that hiring a face painter for one, or even a few bookings, does not fall into the scheme.

We should always insist that we are not left alone with children, a reasonable request as we cannot paint and provide childcare, and without a responsible adult present we cannot be sure that a child has permission to be painted.

Painters who advertise that they are DBS checked (perhaps because they are employed elsewhere in another capacity) are wishing to gain an advantage over those that quite innocently cannot obtain one. If you imagine that just because someone says they are DBS checked on their website, you are going to see their life history before you book them, think again! Also, there is no official expiry date on a DBS check, it could be years old.

The reassurance that anyone might think that a DBS check will give them is somewhat false. An offender is unlikely to be touting professional skills that have taken years to hone, and that they rely on for an income. There is little better than trusting your own gut instincts regarding the suitability of people to be involved with children’s entertainment, and the official advice is that DBS checks should not be the only thing relied upon in any case.

Equity have formally addressed the issue as many of their members in entertainment (including face painters) have come across difficulties, read more here: http://www.equity.org.uk/documents/dbs-guide-for-employers/

Quick checklist here: http://www.safecic.co.uk/images/downloads/CRB/SAFEcic%20DBS%20Eligibility%20Handiguide%20May%202016%20v7.0.pdf

More official information is available here:

General: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/disclosure-and-barring-service/about

Regulated Activity: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/550197/Regulated_activity_in_relation_to_children.pdf

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