How to get Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks via Making Music

DBS and Covid-19 update

As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, DBS has made some temporary changes to the ID checking guidelines for standard and enhanced checks - and basic checks, when submitted through a Responsible Organisation. See our Covid-19 guidance for more information

This guidance deals with the process of requesting a Disclosure and Barring Service check (formerly CRB) on volunteers or employees via Making Music and includes some very basic best practice. For broader information on the topic of safeguarding children see our guidance covering the main principles and your responsibilities.

Whether or not your organisation is a member of Making Music you can apply through us to have employees or volunteers checked, with members paying a lower fee as set out in the table of rates below. Please note that an individual cannot apply directly for a check for themselves; a 'verifier' within their group needs to request the check from Making Music.


What is listed in a DBS disclosure?

A criminal record disclosure is a document listing information that may be held by police and government departments about an individual that can be used to make safer recruitment decisions. In some cases, organisations also need to run checks against lists of people who are unsuitable for working with children and adults held by the DBS – these are called the barred lists.

The disclosure will contain the following information:

  • Criminal records including convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings held on the Police National Computer and local police records
  • Lists held by the Department of Health and the Department for Education and Skills

Overseas Criminal Record Checks

  • Making Music does not offer overseas criminal record checks however, these can be requested through First Advantage Know Your People. More information about applying for an overseas criminal record check and a list of the countries which are included can be found on the First Advantage Know Your People website.

The Update Service

The DBS Update Service provides portability for an individual’s DBS check, removing the need for multiple checks to be made by different organisations.

Paid employees can choose to subscribe to the Update Service for an annual fee of £13, while volunteers can subscribe for free. While they are subscribed, their DBS disclosure will be kept up to date so that they can take it with them from role to role within the same workforce (i.e. children workforce, adult workforce or both). This new services means that employees and volunteers will no longer have to apply for a new criminal record check each time they apply for a new job.

If an individual has subscribed to the Update Service their employer will be able to go online, with the individual’s consent, and carry out a free, instant check to find out if the information released on the DBS certificate is current and up to date.

Further details about this can be found on the DBS website.

What Making Music offers

Making Music acts as an umbrella body for the DBS in England and Wales which means we are entitled to administer application forms to request a disclosure check and, where eligible, a barred list check.

A. Disclosure checks without barred list check
Making Music offers enhanced disclosure checks without barred list checks suitable for volunteers and paid employees, including freelance staff, where the position does not include regulated activity with children and adults (see below for definitions) but where it involves working directly with one of these groups and it seems wise to check their suitability. Under the previous legislation, for example, supervised work and the work of charity trustees was considered to be ‘controlled activity’, and you can still request a disclosure for work of this nature. While you cannot request a barred list check in these circumstances, it may be sensible to request a disclosure check to avoid any unnecessary risk.

B. Disclosure checks with barred list check
Making Music offers enhanced disclosure checks including barred list checks suitable for volunteers and paid employees, including freelance staff, where the position includes regulated activity as described below.

Regulated activity relating to children comprises:

  1. Unsupervised activities: teaching, training, instructing, caring for or supervising children; providing advice/guidance on wellbeing; driving a vehicle only for children
  2. Work for a limited range of establishments (‘specified places’), with opportunity for contact: for example, schools, children’s homes, childcare premises. Not work by supervised volunteers

    Work under i. or ii. is regulated activity only if done regularly. Here ‘regular’ means carried out by the same person frequently (once a week or more often), or on 4 or more days in a 30-day period (or in some cases, overnight)

  3. Relevant personal care, for example washing or dressing; or health care by or supervised by a professional
  4. Foster carers and registered childminders

Regulated activity relating to adults comprises:

  1. Providing health care
  2. Providing personal care including washing, dressing or helping with eating and drinking
  3. Providing social work
  4. Assistance with cash, bills or shopping
  5. Assistance with personal affairs, for example those with power of attorney
  6. Conveying – transporting somebody to receive health care, personal care or social care (this will not include family, friends or taxi drivers)

Here ‘regular’ means carried out by the same person frequently (once a week or more often), or on 4 or more days in a 30-day period (or in some cases, overnight).

It is very important to remember that an enhanced disclosure only reveals information about criminal convictions. It is no indication that offences have not been committed in the past which have not been discovered; nor that offences will not be committed in the future. In other words, receipt of Making Music’s opinion on the suitability of the person for working with children should be only one element in your recruitment decision.

Groups in Scotland

In Scotland it works differently. Read our detailed guidance

Groups in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, groups need to find an umbrella body to process their checks. Information can be found at AccessNI including a list of umbrella bodies to use.

For whom should you consider applying for a DBS check?

Where there are any activities involving young people there should always be a named person who is given clear overall responsibility for their welfare. It may of course be necessary to have more than one person helping to supervise children, but to avoid confusion and argument the number of people should be kept to the minimum required (see Child Safeguarding: what are your responsibilities for more guidance on safeguarding best practice).

It may therefore only be necessary to require a DBS check with barred list checks for the one or two staff or volunteers who share this high-level responsibility, as well as any other people doing regulated activity, such as a Musical Director. It is not appropriate, for example, to seek a disclosure for general stewards at events.

For groups that carry out only very occasional activities involving young people for which the above requirements are a disincentive, we would encourage that you request the assistance of teaching staff or another person who has already been checked (your local school is a good place to start) to help by taking responsibility for their supervision. For many small projects or one-day workshops this would be sufficient, but with more ambitious or long-term projects we would advise that you review your organisation’s approach to safeguarding to ensure you are doing all you can to avoid children and adults coming to any harm (see the nine-step plan to achieving the Safe Network standards in Child Safeguarding: what are your responsibilities).

General recommendations

  • We recommend that no-one, checked or unchecked, is left alone with a young person
  • Any person who may reasonably have physical contact with a young person or may be required to, for example, accompany a sick child into the washroom should be given an enhanced disclosure with barred lists check. You should have at least two checked staff that can fill this latter role if the need arises
  • If a person’s only role is, for example, to serve refreshments from behind a counter and that person will not be left alone with young people, then it is not necessary to have them checked
  • If a person’s only role is to act as a steward, and that person will not be left alone with or responsible for supervising young people, then it is not necessary to have them checked
  • Anyone who is in physical contact or in a position of trust (e.g. a musical director) with young people should have an enhanced check, including a barred list check where eligible
  • Ask yourself the following question: ‘if I employ this person to undertake this role and they subsequently turn out to have a criminal record, would I or a parent feel I had been negligent in not applying for a DBS check?’

Exempted positions and level of disclosure

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (1974) was introduced to ensure that ex-offenders who have not offended again for a period of time are not discriminated against when applying for new positions (voluntary or paid). This means that, in general, employers are not normally permitted to ask about any criminal background. However, certain positions are exempt from the provisions of this act: i.e. when recruiting for certain positions the verifier can ask about whether the applicant has a criminal record. The verifier must be sure that the position for which it is recruiting paid staff or volunteers falls into this category of exempted positions.

The category of most relevance to members of Making Music is that of regularly caring for, training, supervising or being in sole charge of vulnerable groups, including children. If this is not the case it may not be appropriate to apply for a disclosure, but please consult Making Music or the DBS website for further advice.

If your organisation works with children, it is strongly advisable that you consider the risks involved and implement safeguards to minimise these risks. See our information sheets (listed below) created in order to help you do that.

Your responsibilities when using DBS checks for your employees/volunteers

If a verifier wishes an applicant to have a disclosure check for their position they must abide by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 when undertaking recruitment. In particular they must be able to demonstrate that the position is ’exempt’ from this act, which means the verifier can ask questions about whether an applicant has any criminal history.  The verifier should also comply with the DBS code of practice, which ensures that potentially sensitive information is used appropriately.

The verifier must:

  • Decide what checks they are obliged to apply for and which they are eligible to make (see above)
  • Read and understand the DBS Code of Practice. You can download this from
  • Have a written policy on the recruitment of ex-offenders. A sample policy and guidance can be obtained from
  • Talk to the individual who is to be checked, ensuring that you:
    1. make it clear that having a criminal record will not necessarily be a bar to volunteering or employment
    2. make it clear that the DBS’s Code of Practice is available to the applicant
    3. discuss any convictions with the applicant in order to make a fully informed decision
    4. assure applicants on the secure storage and handling of any information

Self-employed — applying for a check for yourself

Please note, Making Music is not permitted to obtain a disclosure on behalf of a self-employed person at their request, though further proposed changes in legislation may make this possible in future. For now, a suitable employment agency or future employer needs to contact us on their behalf.

What are the fees?

DBS checks (England, Northern Ireland and Wales)

  Making Music Member Non-Member
Registration fee (payable once) £5.00 £7.50
Volunteers, enhanced disclosure  £12.50 £35.50
Paid employee, enhanced disclosure £50.50 £73.50

NB. The DBS fees are VAT exempt and include a small administration fee to Making Music.

The process of applying for a check if you are the verifier

All DBS checks requested via Making Music are completed online via an online portal run by a company called First Advantage.   

The first time you request an online DBS check a registration fee (£5 for members, £7.50 for non-members) will be payable. This is a one off fee and you will not have to pay it for any future checks. The process will work as follows (more detailed guidance for each step will be provided when you order a check). 

  1. Verifier requests DBS checks from Making Music
  2. Verifier is set-up with online First Advantage account
  3. Verifier emails applicant(s) though online account with request to complete online form
  4. Applicant completes online form
  5. Applicant and Verifier meet and check documents Verifier completes verification part of online form
  6. Online form sent directly to DBS
  7. Making Music invoice for check(s)
  8. DBS contacts applicant with check outcome

Request DBS checks

We hope you find this Making Music resource useful. If you have any comments or suggestions about the guidance please contact us. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the content of this guidance is accurate and up to date, Making Music do not warrant, nor accept any liability or responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the content, or for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information contained in it.