DBS Checks for Leisure Staff

There is a common misconception that all staff working in leisure centres should be asked to apply for DBS certificates. This has stemmed from concerns around access to changing rooms where children may be undressed, the potential for physical contact with children in emergency situations and because children often visit these facilities without their parents or guardians.

DBS check eligibility for Leisure Centre staff

Leisure centre staff are not specifically named as a role or profession in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 and so there is no automatic eligibility to apply for a standard DBS certificate.

A leisure centre is not a specified establishment listed in the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act (SVGA) 2006, as amended by Protection of Freedoms Act (PoFA) 2012, and so there is no automatic eligibility to apply for an enhanced DBS certificate with a check of the DBS children’s barred list for their staff.

If the member of staff simply has contact with children due to working in an area where children may be and does not carry out any of the activities set out in ‘work with children’ legislation, then there is no eligibility for a standard or enhanced DBS certificate, e.g. administration, bar staff, cleaner or caretaker.

However, there may be occasions when leisure centre roles do involve certain duties and activities that would enable an enhanced DBS certificate with a DBS children’s barred list check to be carried out under Schedule 4 of the SVGA 2006. This would mean the post holder would be in regulated activity with children. This would in turn make the employers a regulated activity provider (RAP) which brings obligations under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006.

For example, any activity which involves teaching, training, instruction, care or supervision of children (where this is not incidental to performing the same tasks with adults) and where this occurs 3 or more times in a 30 day period, would fall under the definition of regulated activity with children. These roles would be entitled to an enhanced DBS certificate with a check of the DBS children’s barred list, e.g. a lifeguard or children’s swimming instructor.

Where these activities are being carried out on an infrequent basis (but still more than once), eligibility exists for an enhanced DBS certificate, but without a check of the DBS children’s barred list.

There are a variety of sports and other activities which can take place within leisure centres aimed at children. Where this is the case it is not appropriate for all other leisure centre staff to be DBS checked unless they meet the criteria described above.

DBS checks for Crèche facilities

In Wales, a large number of leisure centres offer crèche facilities for children ranging from birth to twelve years old. These facilities fall under the statutory remit of the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) and so are subject to its mandatory registration regime. In England, facilities for children up to 8 years of age are subject to Ofsted’s mandatory registration regime. English providers who only offer childcare services to those aged 8 years and over can register with Ofsted on a voluntary basis.

Staff working in a crèche based within a leisure centre will be eligible to be asked to apply for an enhanced DBS certificate with a check of the DBS children’s barred list in the same way as staff working in any nursery or crèche would be. This does not mean that the whole leisure centre is a specified establishment. It is not appropriate for all other leisure centre staff to be DBS checked because of the crèche facility.

DBS Checks for Sports Clubs in Leisure Facilities

If you’re a sports organisation that delivers sessions within a facility and you have questions or queries about DBS requirements or eligibility, please review the section on DBS Checks for Sports Clubs

The WSA DBS Checking Service for Sport & Leisure

The WSA have been offering a full range of DBS checks since 2016 and is the only bilingual DBS service in Wales. The WSA offer a very competitively priced service, with members also benefiting from a discounted rate. The DBS service is not run for profit, meaning that the money generated is invested back into services for sport and physical activity. The service is available to all, including Leisure facilities, and is accompanied by a helpline to support leisure operators and leisure staff through the DBS process.

If you are not currently utilising the WSA DBS service, please complete a non-obligation pre-registration application here and a member of the team will be in touch. If you’re not a WSA member, and even if you’re not involved in sport or physical activity, you are still more than welcome to utilise the bilingual DBS checking services available, the WSA has numerous charities and third sector organisations across the UK that utilise the not for profit DBS checking service. Full information on the WSA’s DBS service for sport & leisure, can be found on the WSA website.

To express an interest in the service – please follow the DBS Application Form link below.

DBS checks are one (very important) part of an organisations wider safeguarding strategy, to be used alongside a host of other safeguarding prevention measures. The WSA has a wide range of resources and courses that can aid your organisation in its’ safeguarding journey. These can be found on the Safeguarding section of the WSA website.

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