There’s been a lot of publicity over recent years about the importance of DBS checking for sports coaches. The case which got most media attention concerned football coaches in the 1970s. Some coaches used their position to abuse children in their care. Decades later, these cases have come to light and several formal coaches have been prosecuted. DBS checks are run to try to address these issues with sports coaches, but it’s important to understand how the system works.
DBS Checks for Employers
If you are running a sports coaching business, then it’s your job to understand and use the DBS system. This also applies to people in charge of voluntary organisations who don’t get paid for their work. If you are part of a larger governing body such as a swimming club affiliated to Swim England, go to them for guidance. It’s your responsibility to get things right, but don’t worry; there’s lots of help out there. On a very basic level, you’ll have to arrange for enhanced disclosure checking on all people working closely with children or vulnerable adults. This rule applies to anyone over the age of 16, who is working or volunteering with you.
If you’re the person who is applying for a job or volunteering as a sports coach, then don’t be surprised if you’re asked for an enhanced disclosure. Being asked for a disclosure doesn’t mean you’re suspected of anything. Don’t take it personally! Everyone will be asked to complete the paperwork as standard. Until your DBS form comes through, you might be restricted in the type of work you do. Coaching outside with several other adults around will be fine, being alone in changing rooms with children probably won’t be. If you’re aware of the reasons behind the DBS system, it will be easy to take steps to protect the children and young people in your care.
Parents and Young People
As a parent, it can be really hard to trust the people we’re handing our children over to. Parents should feel confident to ask about safeguarding and DBS checking. If you don’t get the answers you’re expecting, or feel that the organisation is being evasive, go elsewhere. Voluntary organisations like Brownies or Cubs will have a safeguarding officer who you can contact if you need to. Most will also have a safeguarding policy or child protection policy online.
On the other hand, remember that DBS is only current on the day the certificate is issued. Unless the coach has signed up for the DBS Update service, the police won’t inform the organisation about any new offences or cautions. A DBS certificate is no substitute for teaching your children about issues surrounding consent. Give them the confidence to come to you if something happens they’re not comfortable with. A great place to get guidance is on the NSPCC website, which has child-friendly, age appropriate information presented in a non-frightening way. Dont’s lose sight of the fact that the overwhelming majority of people working with kids are professional and passionate about their sport.