When working with children in the UK, it's common to hear griping about the restrictions and administrative overhead imposed by compliance with the Disclosure & Barring (DBS) regime. Despite this criticisms, however, it's generally accepted that it is a necessary evil.
A little bit of background: DBS checks, originally known as CRB checks, were introduced in early 2002, shortly before the Soham murders, and procedures were tightened following them. They are mandatory for anybody who wants to work with children or vulnerable adults, disclosing criminal record information with the aim of helping organisations to make ‘safer recruitment decisions’.
At first glance, it seems a sensible risk reduction strategy. However, the scheme has come under fire for its pricetag and delays, incorrect or excessive disclosures, nobody thinking to check if it actually works and, sociologically, for ‘“poisoning” relationships between the generations’ (allegedly impacting the voluntary sector particularly hard). Especially in the light of the widespread child sexual abuse in the UK revealed in the Jimmy Saville scandal and Operation Yewtree investigation, the perpetrators of which would generally not have been flagged via DBS, the scheme's efficacy seems doubtful.
The DBS claim ‘to prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children’ and to ‘[help] employers make safer recruitment decisions on more than four million people every year.’ Has anyone compared the incidence of vulnerable person abuse pre- and post-CRB/DBS to see whether it has actually made vulnerable groups safer?