Ineligible DBS checks for film/television extras

We were recently contacted by an individual who, on signing up for extras work with a film and television casting agency, had been told that as a result of ‘new ‘guidance introduced by the Disclosure and Barring Service’, it would be necessary for him to have an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

The individual explained to us that as and when children were on set, they were always accompanied by an ‘appropriate adult’ and he didn’t believe that his role would warrant an enhanced DBS check. He wanted to know whether we were aware of this new DBS guidance.

The agency’s website stated that:

“As of 1st January 2016 new DBS and PACT (Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television) guidance would require an enhanced check to be carried out for anybody working in this sector.”

The website also displayed the DBS logo which, in our opinion, implied that there was some validity to this statement.

After some further research, we could find no reference to the introduction of any new guidance and from the job description provided by the individual, we could see no reason for the agency to do anything other than a basic criminal record check.

We contacted the casting agency setting out our concerns but received no response from them. Unable to deal directly with the agency, we raised our concerns with the Information Commissioners Officer (ICO).

From the information provided, the ICO reached a similar conclusion to us – they could find no evidence of new DBS guidance and also believed that a basic criminal record check would be sufficient for roles of this type. The DBS were immediately able to confirm that there had been no new guidance introduced.

The DBS immediately contacted the agency who explained that they had been provided with this update from the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT) of which they were members. The DBS explained that an error seemed to have been made in the interpretation of the use of enhanced DBS checks. They instructed the agency to remove the DBS logo from their website and also ensure that any reference to ‘new DBS guidance’ was also taken down. The DBS confirmed that an enhanced check would be deemed an ineligible check for the majority of extra’s roles.

The DBS also wrote to the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT) and requested that they contact all of their members to clarify the situation.

The agency reviewed and changed their recruitment process in light of the issues we had raised.

Lessons

This case showed how organisations can make incorrect assumptions about the eligibility for enhanced checks, especially if they are part of a larger membership organisation who may have members who would be required to undertake enhanced checks.

For an enhanced check to have been undertaken, an individual would have need to have had unsupervised access to children and in this case, the individual was able to demonstrate that children attending a ‘set’ would always be accompanied by an appropriate adult.

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Notes about this case study

 

Christopher Stacey