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DBS checks for trustees

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When you assess a trustee’s role to work out which check you need to do, there’s some additional information to consider.

For safeguarding, there’s no legal requirement that says all trustees must have a certain level of DBS check. Instead, the Charity Commission expects criminal record checks to be carried out if the position is eligible for them. The level of check is dependent on both the charity’s activities and the trustee’s role.

Failing to make these background checks can put people’s safety at risk. It can also put the reputation and/or assets of the charity at risk if a trustee turns out to be unsuitable for the role. The Charity Commission may consider this to be mismanagement or misconduct.

These statements can be helpful for deciding which checks to complete.

  • An organisation is allowed to ask any trustee to have a basic check.
  • If a charity works with adults at risk or children, it’s eligible to apply for an enhanced DBS check for its trustees (and applicants for trustee roles), but there’s no automatic eligibility for the additional barred list check. If it doesn’t work with these groups, a standard or enhanced DBS check may not be necessary.
  • If a trustee is in a role that amounts to regulated activity (or they supervise or manage people who are), they’re eligible for an enhanced DBS check that includes a barred list check. Charities should consider whether a trustee’s role is eligible for this extra level of check. They can use the section on deciding which checks to take as a guide.

In addition to your safeguarding responsibilities, you’ll also be expected to make sure that your charity’s trustees aren’t disqualified from this role by law.

The Charity Commission has published a declaration form that must be signed by charity trustees who apply for registered charity status.

This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 26 April 2023

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