DBS checks for Sound Sense members

All you need to know about getting a criminal records check for your work

What is the DBS?

The DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) helps employers, hirers and commissioners make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with children or vulnerable adults and other vulnerable groups.

The service decides whether someone should be placed on or removed from a "barred list" for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It processes requests for criminal records checks by searching police records - and, in relevant cases, barred list information - and then issuing a DBS certificate disclosing any criminal record and perhaps other information. (These used to be called CRB certificates, and many people still call them that.)

However, you can't apply direct to the DBS for a check - you have to apply through a counter-signatory service which will verify your identity papers. The good news is that we can arrange this service at a very competitive price - if you are a Sound Sense member.

What jobs require a DBS check?

Because a DBS check contains highly personal information about any criminal past, there are limits to the types of job for which you can be asked for a certificate. The rules are complicated, but the work of a community music practitioner, and some managers, will usually involve regularly caring for, training, supervising or being solely in charge of children and/or vulnerable adults, or having access to their sensitive information - for which an Enhanced DBS check would be required. 

To check your eligibility for a DBS check, and to find out what level of check is appropriate for your role, please use this online tool:



How long is a check valid for?

A DBS certificate has no official expiry date. But it is accurate only at the time the check was carried out - anything may be added to your record after that date. It is up to an employer to decide if they think a new check is needed - based on how old the check is; whether it covers the type of work they’re asking you to do; and so on.

You may wish to register for the DBS Update Service: this is an additional paid-for service run directly by DBS to keep your certificate up to date and should reduce the number of times you’re asked to apply for a new check. 

Find out more about the DBS update service >>


Applying as an individual

If you would like to request a DBS check, please email us at info@soundsense.org with your name and postal address. Please note you must be a Sound Sense member!

Once you have made a request we will send you a DBS pack. Please complete the DBS form, with the help of the easy to understand guidance notes, and send it back with appropriate proof of identity and your payment. We will arrange for the paperwork to be checked, countersigned and sent to the DBS for the searches, returning your identity documents to you by registered post - all part of the service.

Once completed, the DBS will send the certificate directly to you.


Applying as an organisation

An organisation can’t complete a DBS application on behalf of someone it’s hiring or employing - the application must be completed by the individual that the check is for. But Sound Sense organisation members can request and return a number of applications in one batch; the certificates would then be sent to the individuals directly, not to the organisation.

To request DBS checks for your staff or volunteers, please email us at info@soundsense.org with your name, organisation name and postal address, and let us know how many DBS checks are required.



The DBS fee (from 1 October 2019) is £40; and our processing fee is £20. In addition you have two postage options for the return of your identity documents: £4 for Signed For Delivery or £8 for Special Delivery. 

Processing time

The estimated processing time for a check, after you’ve returned your properly filled-in application form and identity documents, is four to six weeks. There is no possibility of hurrying a check up! 

Keep your certificate safe!

It is very important you keep your certificate it in a safe place, as the DBS will not issue duplicates. 

The small print

The information in these pages relates to the law in England and Wales. We can arrange DBS checks to applicants in Scotland and Northern Ireland but the rules are different. For Scotland, please visit Disclosure Scotland. For Northern Ireland please visit Access Northern Ireland.

Reasonable precautions have been taken to ensure the information in these pages is accurate. However, it is not intended to be legally comprehensive and should not be seen as definitive child protection advice: it is designed to provide guidance in good faith at the stated date but without accepting liability. You may need to take appropriate professional advice before taking action on any of the matters in these pages.

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