WSA DBS Support Service for Sports Coaches

Most sports coaches will at some point come across the subject of DBS checks. Being asked to undergo a DBS check does not mean you are suspected of anything – it is a standard procedure for anyone who’s role involves regular contact with children or vulnerable adults, and in many cases an organisation employing a sports coach, will have a legal duty to go through this process.

In addition to WSA’s ‘DBS for Sports Clubs’ guidance – there is now a ‘DBS for Sports Coaches’ section on the WSA website aimed at guiding coaches on the DBS process and helping them understand their responsibilities when it comes to this key safeguarding tool.

Determining which coaches (paid or volunteer) are eligible for DBS and ensuring that all necessary checks have been made is ultimately the responsibility of the national governing body, facility, club or organisation hiring that person. However, it is still recommended that sports coaches familiarise themselves with the rules and processes involved with DBS checks – not least because they too have certain legal responsibilities with regards to seeking work that involves contact with vulnerable groups.

Whilst we would recommend that anyone involved with safeguarding or working with vulnerable groups seek guidance from official sources, including the Disclosure and Barring Service and Government departments, our guide provides a general overview of the process and will cover some of the key issues which we hope sports coaches find informative and useful. Below is a summary of some of the main topics covered.

  • DBS overview: An introduction to the different levels of DBS checks for sports coaches, and what sort of information will be disclosed in the respective results and how this may affect a coach’s ability to work.
  • How to apply for a DBS check as a sports coach: The nature of a coach’s work will almost certainly warrant an enhanced check. If this is the case – then the coach will need to find an organisation to apply on their behalf. This may involve seeking help and guidance from a club, umbrella organisation (governing or regulatory body), local authority, facility provider or a registered DBS provider, such as the WSA.
  • Eligibility: A coach’s eligibility for an enhanced DBS check will depend on what the role involves, who they are working with, how often and where the role is performed, and whether they are supervised. Full details on what counts as a regulated activity with children can be found at the Department of Education here. There is also a DBS eligibility tool on the Government’s website which you may find useful.
  • Barred lists: There are certain roles where it is legally required that an individual obtain an enhanced DBS certificate and a search of the DBS’s children’s and/or adults’ barred list. An individual will find themselves on the barred list if they are deemed to pose a present or future risk of harm to vulnerable groups. A coach and any hiring organisation have strict legal responsibilities when it comes to seeking work and hiring, respectively, when it comes to the barred list.
  • Coaching adults: Establishing eligibility if you are sports coach, coaching adults can be difficult. A coach will need to be aware of their safeguarding duties with respect to working with vulnerable adults, i.e. adults who are in receipt of healthcare, care or assistance because of their age, illness, or disability. The issue may become even less clear where a coach is working with a mixed range of participants – for example where children are playing alongside adults. The Ann Craft Trust have created a very useful flowchart to help identify eligibility when working with adults.

WSA Safeguarding Support

The WSA have been offering a full range of DBS checks via its trading arm Vibrant Nation since 2016 and is the only bilingual DBS system & 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 members and non-members and is accompanied by a helpline to support organisations through the DBS process.

If you are not currently utilising the WSA’s DBS service, please complete a non-obligation pre-registration application here and a member of the WSA 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, we have 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 or access our trading arm Vibrant Nation website directly to express an interest in the DBS service.

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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