Self-declaration doesn't replace the need for a DBS disclosure check for eligible roles, but can provide additional information that a DBS check will not.
Self-declaration can be part of an organisation’s safer recruitment process. It involves requiring an individual to provide information to be used as part of a decision on their suitability for a particular role with children.
It is recommended good practice to use a separate self-declaration form rather than embed self-declaration questions within their overall application form.
Benefits of self-declaration
The advantages of using self-declaration forms include:
- providing a means to test the openness/honesty of a candidate (particularly when information provided is matched against DBS disclosure information)
- allowing relevant questions about an applicant’s background/experience that do not feature in the DBS process
- facilitating the applicant to sign to confirm a wider range of consents/agreements than a DBS application form (e.g. a commitment to inform the employer if the individual is subsequently arrested/investigated in relation to safeguarding concerns; agreement to comply with safeguarding policies and a code of conduct)
- clarifying that consent is given to the organisation taking steps to clarify information arising on a DBS disclosure
- confirming understanding that the organisation may share information with other organisations if this is considered necessary to safeguard children
What you can ask
The DBS information filtering rules introduced in 2013 and amended in Nov 2020 had a significant impact on what information an organisation is legally entitled to ask for about an individual’s criminal history.
You can no longer simply ask for information about ‘any criminal convictions, formal warnings or cautions’ through either the DBS application form or the organisation’s self-declaration form.
The options for self-declaration include:
- For roles that are eligible for DBS disclosure checks, amending self-declaration forms to include or link to the full filtering rules guidance. This is a relatively complex document and references a long list of offences that may confuse as many individuals as it assists. It is also bulky to include in a hard copy form.
- Changing the nature of the questions on the self-declaration to avoid asking for specific criminal conviction information. This still allows organisations to obtain relevant information and secure a range of other consents. It also with a slight amendment of wording (see sample form for roles that are not exempt) to use the self-declaration for anyone coming into contact with children in the course of their role – regardless of whether they qualify for a DBS check or not.
The CPSU worked with several sports bodies and NSPCC staff with expertise in safe recruitment to amend the template self-declarations form in order to reflect the changes. The template can be adapted to suit your organisation.
The CPSU strongly recommends that any individuals eligible for DBS checks should be required to provide a valid disclosure.