Accessibility statement

Records Management – Policy for the handling and use of DBS certificate information

Related pages

This policy explains that all handlers and recipients of certificate information from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) must protect and ensure the security of the information they have access to, and must use it only for the purpose it was given for and abide by the DBS Code of Practice.

The policy applies to all employees, including those who receive, handle or manage certificate information.


1. Policy

1.1 General principles

1.1.1 As an organisation using the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checking service to help assess the suitability of applicants for positions of trust, the University of York complies fully with the code of practice regarding the correct handling, use, storage, retention and disposal of certificates and certificate information.

1.1.2 It also complies fully with its obligations under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Data Protection Act 2018 and other relevant legislation pertaining to the safe handling, use, storage, retention and disposal of certificate information and maintains this written policy on these matters.

1.2 Storage and access

1.2.1 Certificates and certificate information (when held) should be kept securely, in lockable, non-portable, storage containers with access strictly controlled and limited to those who are entitled to see it as part of their duties.

1.3 Handling

1.3.1 In accordance with section 124 of the Police Act 1997, certificate information is only passed to those who are authorised to receive it in the course of their duties. We maintain a record of all those to whom certificates or certificate information has been revealed and it is a criminal offence to pass this information to anyone who is not entitled to receive it.

1.3.2 University departments or services which are inspected by Ofsted or the Care Quality Commission may be legally entitled to retain the certificate for the purposes of inspection.

1.3.3 Where a department is required to retain certificates in order to demonstrate ‘safer recruitment’ practice for the purpose of safeguarding audits, they may be legally entitled to retain the certificate. This practice must be compliant with the Data Protection Act, Human Rights Act, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and incorporated within this policy. 

1.4 Usage

1.4.1 Certificate information is only used for the specific purpose for which it was requested and for which the applicant’s full consent has been given.

1.5 Retention

1.5.1 Once a recruitment (or other relevant) decision has been made, we do not keep certificate information for any longer than is necessary. This retention will allow for the consideration and resolution of any disputes or complaints, or be for the purpose of completing safeguarding audits. 

1.5.2 Throughout this time, the usual conditions regarding safe storage and strictly controlled access will prevail.

1.6 Disposal

1.6.1 Once the retention period has elapsed, we will ensure that any DBS certificate information is immediately destroyed by secure means, for example by shredding, pulping or burning. While awaiting destruction, certificate information will not be kept in any insecure receptacle (e.g. waste bin or confidential waste sack).

1.6.2 We will not keep any photocopy or other image of the certificate or any copy or representation of the contents of a certificate. However, notwithstanding the above, we may keep a record of the date of issue of a certificate, the name of the subject, the type of certificate requested, the position for which the certificate was requested, the unique reference number of the certificates and the details of the recruitment decision taken.

1.7 Acting as an umbrella body

1.7.1 Before acting as an umbrella body (an umbrella body being a registered body which countersigns applications and receives certificate information on behalf of other employers or recruiting organisations), we will take all reasonable steps to satisfy ourselves that they will handle, use, store, retain and dispose of certificate information in full compliance with the code of practice and in full accordance with this policy.

1.7.2 We will also ensure that any body or individual, at whose request applications for DBS certificates are countersigned, has such a written policy and, if necessary, will provide a model policy for that body or individual to use or adapt for this purpose. 


2. Scope

2.1 This policy applies to all University staff who handle, or are responsible for the handling of, DBS certificate information.

2.2 This policy covers all DBS certificates and certificate information held by the University.



3. Oversight

3.1 The Information Security Board, chaired by the Deputy Registrar, will monitor the effectiveness of this policy and carry out regular reviews.


4. Responsibilities

4.1 All managers, handlers and recipients of DBS certificate information are responsible for protecting and ensuring the security of the information to which they have access.

4.2 University Officers, Heads of Departments and Section Heads are responsible for ensuring that all DBS and certificate information in their area is managed in conformance with this policy.

4.3 Information users who act in breach of this policy, or who do not act to implement it, may be subject to disciplinary procedures or other appropriate sanctions.

4.4 Any breach of information security or violation of this policy must be reported to the Deputy Registrar who will take appropriate action and inform the relevant authorities.

Document history

Document history

 09 April 2015 Approved by Information Policy Executive
21 August 2015 Approved by Information Security Board
14 May 2020 Reviewed and updated by Information Security Board


Review cycle: Three yearly

Date of next review: May 2023