Frequently Asked Questions
What posts/programmes within the University require a criminal records/ disclosure check?
(a) Staff Posts that require a criminal records/ disclosure check to be carried out are :
- All posts working in the University Day Nursery
- All posts involved in summer schools
- Posts where visits to schools are an integral part of the post
- Some posts working in Sport
- Any other post that includes regular and/or unsupervised contact with children
- Any other post carrying out regulated activity with adults in a health or personal care setting
(for further details visit the Human Resources Guidance on 'Posts Requiring Pre-employment Criminal Records Checks)
(b) Undergraduate Programmes of study that require a criminal records/ dislcosure check to be carried out are:
- Community and Youth Work
- Community Studies
- Primary Teaching: General
- Primary Teaching: ICT
- Sport in the Community
- Any other programme where regulated activity with children and/or adults must be undertaken as part of the programme.
For further details visit on the procedures in respect of undergraduate applications with Criminal Convictions, please visit: https://www.dur.ac.uk/learningandteaching.handbook/1/2/6/
(c) Postgraduate Taught Programmes of study that require a criminal records/ disclosure check as a condition of entry are:
- Master of Social Work (MSW)
- Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)
The procedures for staff dealing with criminal records checks for these programmes should follow the Learning & Teaching Handbook guidlines provided for undergraduate programmes: Section 1.2.6: Procedures in respect of undergraduate applicants with Criminal Convictions. Students will be notified of the correct procedure for applying for a disclosure by the relevant department.
(d) Postgraduate Research Programmes
A student wishing to undertake postgraduate research that involves regulated activity with children or vulnerable adults may require a DBS criminal records check and students should contact their supervisor within their academic department for further details. Academic supervisors should in all cases contact the Academic Registrar's Office for advice on the disclosure process for postgraduate research students.
Please note that the University may need to request a DBS criminial records check for posts or programmes of study other than those listed above. Where this is the case the applicant will be notified of this at the point of application.
How much does a Disclosure application cost?
Current fees are set at:
- Standard Disclosure £26
- Enhanced Disclosure £44
These costs are normally met by the applicant, but you should check with the person who has asked you to complete the Disclosure application. Some posts are classed as Volunteers and are therefore exempt from payment. For further information on the definition of a volunteer please refer to the question below, 'What is a Volunteer'.
What is the definition of a Volunteer?
The DBS' definition of a volunteer is: 'a person who is engaged in any activity which involves spending time, unpaid (except for travelling and other approved out-of-pocket expenses), doing something which aims to benefit someone (individuals or groups) other than or in addition to close relatives'. Some people can be referred to as volunteers, but do not actually meet the DBS' criteria to get a free check. This is because they may receive, or expect to receive, a benefit, such as remuneration or a credit towards a qualification. For example, students on training placement; people on work placements, must pay for their checks.
It is also worth noting that there is no legal requirement to vet ALL volunteers. The decision to get a DBS criminal records check on a volunteer should be based on either:
- a thorough risk assessment of the role to be performed by the volunteer and the extent to which this will bring them into contact with children or vulnerable adults or,
- if the voluntary work is to be carried out on someone else's premises, for example a school or care home, whether it is a requirement of that organisation for a check to be done, in order to comply with the legislation that governs their business.
What if I have been adopted?
- If an applicant was adopted before the age of ten then they do not need to provide their surname at birth under Section C of the Disclosure application form. They should instead provide their adoptive name.
This is because under the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, Chapter 12, Section 50 the age of criminal responsibility is deemed to be 10 years and therefore there is no possibility that an individual could have a criminal record in a name that was used until the age of ten.
- If an applicant was adopted after the age of 10 the DBS require full details of previous name(s).
I am an international applicant with overseas addresses. Should I apply for a DBS Disclosure check?
This will depend on the type and length of activity that you will be participating in and you should seek advice from Sue Woodcock (telephone 0191 33 46141) or the Lead Countersignatory, Sam Dale (telephone 0191 33 46120).
Please note if you have not lived in the UK you will also be required to provide a criminal records check from your own country.
Who do I return my Disclosure Application to once completed?
Staff: All Disclosure Applications for members of staff should be forwarded to the Human Resources Department.
Students: Please refer to the list of countersignatories within the Contacts section of this website.
What if a Disclosure Certificate is returned with something on it (ie conviction, caution or reprimand)?
The action required is dependent upon the nature of the conviction and the post or programme applied for. Specific instructions on how to proceed should be sought from either:
- Sam Dale (Deputy Academic Registrar and Lead Countersignatory) for Student applications
- Jack Boyd (Director of Human Resources and Countersignatory) for Staff applications
If you are the applicant you will be notified in due course what action, if any, will be taken.
I have a criminal conviction: Will it stop me from gaining a place or being employed at Durham University?
Staff: A criminal record will not be an automatic bar to employment at the University. The specific details of each ex-offender's case will be considered on an individual basis and reviewed accordingly. Please refer to the Human Resources Statement on the Recruitment and Employment of Ex-Offenders for full guidance.
Students:The UCAS application form contains a question concerning Criminal Convictions and applicants are asked the question 'Do you have any criminal convictions?' at the point of application. UCAS will not forward an application to a Higher Education Institution until this question has been answered 'yes' or 'no'. Answering 'yes' does not mean that you will be automatically barred from joining the University as the University has a responsiblity to consider all applications primarily on academic grounds; however, the University also has a duty to ensure the safety and well being of other members of its community and external bodies through whom students may complete aspects of their programmes of study. Please refer to Section 1.2.6: Procedures in respect of Applicants with Criminal Convictions of the Learning & Teaching Handbook, for full guidance.
I have been refused entry to Durham University on the basis of a criminal conviction: What can I do now?
- Joanne Race (Deputy Director of Human Resources) for Staff applications.
- Sam Dale(Deputy Academic Registrar and Lead Countersignatory) for Student applications.
Portability of Applications: Can I use a previous Disclosure?
It is currently Durham University's general policy NOT to accept disclosures from other institutions unless an applicant has signed up to the DBS Update Service. Please see the webpage 'Portabilty' for further information.
Portability of Applications: Can I use my Durham University Disclosure elsewhere?
It is currently Durham University's general policy NOT to share Disclosure information with any other body or institution. However in exceptional circumstances it may be possible to share information with partner organisations. In these instances explicit consent must be sought from the individual. Please see the webpage 'Portability' for further information.