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Professional Standards Authority launches pilot of higher level DBS checks for self-employed Accredited Registers practitioners

The Authority announces the launch of a new pilot scheme, in conjunction with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and the Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP), which is a register currently accredited by the Authority.

Criminal record checks are an important part of safeguarding measures to protect patients and the public. The DBS conducts criminal record background checks, upon request, and maintains lists of individuals who are barred from carrying out 'regulated activity', in England and Wales. In Scotland, a similar role is carried out by Disclosure Scotland and, in Northern Ireland, by AccessNI.

Currently, employers are the main group that undertakes checks, which leaves a potential safeguarding gap for patients and service users seeking treatment from self-employed practitioners.

There are four levels of DBS checks; this pilot will focus on the highest, the Enhanced with Barred List. A small, randomly selected, sample of self-employed practitioners on the ACP register have agreed to participate. The results will be used to inform the Authority’s understanding of eligibility and the practical implications of other Accredited Registers making these checks.

In parallel to our pilot, UK Government has announced its Independent Review into the Disclosure and Barring Regime which will seek to provide assurance to Ministers about its effectiveness in safeguarding children and vulnerable adults. It will review the definition of ‘regulated activity’, used to determine who is eligible for a higher-level DBS check, and eligibility gaps for disclosure checks for the self-employed. We will use the findings of our pilot and Government’s review, to decide whether a wider rollout of checks for Accredited Registers would be of value. This will consider how a cohesive approach across the four UK countries can be achieved.

Alan Clamp, Chief Executive of the Professional Standards Authority, said:

“We have highlighted a safeguarding gap in successive annual reports, so we are pleased that the launch of this pilot, and the Government’s own review, will look at how safeguards can be strengthened for people seeking treatment from unregulated, self-employed health and care workers.”

Nick Waggett, Chief Executive of the Association of Child Psychotherapists, said:

“The ACP is very pleased to work with the PSA and DBS on this safeguarding pilot. We hope it helps to improve the systems for undertaking criminal record checks to protect patients and the public.”

More information about the pilot and criminal records checks across the UK is available here.


Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care


Notes to the Editor

  1. The Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care oversees 10 statutory bodies that regulate health and social care professionals in the UK.
  2. We assess their performance and report to Parliament. We also conduct audits and investigations and can appeal fitness to practise cases to the courts if we consider that sanctions are insufficient to protect the public and it is in the public interest.
  3. We also set standards for organisations holding voluntary registers for health and social care occupations and accredit those that meet them.
  4. We share good practice and knowledge, conduct research and introduce new ideas to our sector. We monitor policy developments in the UK and internationally and provide advice on issues relating to professional standards in health and social care.
  5. We do this to promote the health, safety and wellbeing of users of health and social care services and the public. We are an independent body, accountable to the UK Parliament.
  6. Our values are – integrity, transparency, respect, fairness and teamwork – and we strive to ensure that they are at the core of our work.
  7. More information about our work and the approach we take is available at
  8.  More information about the Association of Child Psychotherapists can be found at