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Changes to DBS Checks for Fire and Rescue Services

Date Published: September 19, 2023 | Last Updated: February 20, 2024 | By Rebecca Forsyth
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More stringent DBS Checks (also known as Criminal Record Checks) will now be available for staff in the Fire and Rescue service due to recent changes to UK legislation. His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) report, commissioned by the Crime, Policing and Fire Minister, has found that every fire brigade in England is rife with bullying, harassment and discrimination complaints. Sexual harassment complaints are also widespread. Meanwhile, Baroness Louise Casey’s investigation into the Metropolitan Police found the force to be ‘institutionally racist, sexist and homophobic’.

Rescue Services have been plagued by controversies, such as the murder of Sarah Everard in 2021 at the hands of serving police officer Wayne Couzens, David Carrick’s 85 serious offences including rapes, sexual assaults, false imprisonments, and coercive and controlling behaviour over a 17-year period during which he was a serving police officer, and Met PCs Deniz Jaffer and Jamie Lewis, who shared photos of murdered sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry via Whatsapp in June 2020.

As a result of these reports’ findings, fire and rescue authorities will now carry out more comprehensive background checks in a step towards raising standards, protecting staff and the public, mitigating risk, and promoting a culture of honesty and integrity.

Minister for Policing of the United Kingdom, Chris Philp, commented:

Fire reform is urgently needed, and this is a step in the right direction to help raise overall standards and ensure the integrity of fire and rescue services. We want to see a service where everyone is welcome and treated with respect. Stringent criminal record checks will help ensure staff and the public are better protected and is an important part of the change that now needs to happen.

What’s changing?

Under previous legislation, employees of the Fire and Rescue service were only eligible for a basic DBS check. The basic disclosure is the lowest form of criminal-record check containing unspent convictions only. It can be applied to anyone, at any time, for any reason. Now, all staff are eligible for more rigorous Standard DBS checks. These checks provide information on:

  • Unspent cautions
  • Unspent convictions
  • Cautions
  • Spent convictions
  • Reprimands
  • Final warnings

You can only run this check on candidates applying for specific financial, legal, medical and other regulated positions – which now includes rescue services.

Vero is registered with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) to conduct basic, standard and enhanced criminal record checks in England and Wales. We also have a relationship with Disclosure Scotland to process checks in Scotland. This means we can run basic, standard and enhanced criminal background checks on potential employees throughout the UK. Find out more about DBS Checks here.

Want to run DBS checks? Talk to us at intouch@veroscreening.com.

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