DBS Terminology Glossary

We do so many DBS checks that the terminology has well and truly lodged itself into our everyday vocabulary – and sometimes we forget that terms like ‘regulated activity’ and ‘section 128 check’ aren’t in common usage! If only there was some sort of glossary of DBS terminology available to make everyone’s lives just that little bit easier…

Well, worry no more! We’ve heard your calls and have put together our own glossary of DBS terminology to cut through the jargon and explain some of the terms we use most often in the DBS checking process. We hope it helps!

Glossary of DBS Terminology

Adult First Check (ISA)


Adult First, formerly ‘ISA Adult First’ or ‘POVA’, is a service provided by the DBS (see below). It’s available to organisations with employees who carry out regulated activity with adults – for example, a Care Assistant in a Care Home.

An Adult First Check can enable a new employee to start work before they’ve obtained a DBS certificate. The employee will be checked against the adults’ barred list, with the result returned within 72 hours.

Depending on the result, the employee can start work under supervision while they wait for their full DBS disclosure.




A countersignatory is a person within a registered body who the DBS has authorised to countersign applications.




DBS stands for Disclosure and Barring Service, the body that processes and issues criminal record background checks.




DS stands for Disclosure Scotland, the body that processes and issues criminal record disclosures for people who live or work in Scotland.


Regulated activity


Regulated activity refers to a list of specific roles and activities that a person who has been barred from working with vulnerable adults or children must not do.

It’s an offence for an organisation to employ a barred person in a role that involves regulated activity, or for a barred person to apply for work that involves regulated activity.

For a full description of regulated activity with adults, see this guidance from the Department of Health.

For a full description of regulated activity with children, see this guidance from the Department for Education.


Responsible Organisation (RO)


A Responsible Organisation, or RO, is an organisation registered with the DBS to submit DBS checks through a web service.


Section 128 Check


A Section 128 Check ascertains whether a person has been barred from taking part in the management of independent schools.

If someone has received a Section 128 direction, they can’t be on a school board, or be on the senior management team in an academy.

The Section 128 Check can be requested on an Enhanced DBS Check with the Child Workforce and Children’s Barred List by entering the position as ‘Management of Independent School’.


See disclosure


If a DBS check comes back with a ‘see disclosure’ result, it means the DBS or police have disclosed criminal information on the applicant’s certificate.

In this case, the employer needs to make their recruitment decision based on the information disclosed on the certificate.




In the context of DBS checks, a volunteer is a person who spends time, unpaid (except for travel and other approved out-of-pocket expenses), doing an activity that aims to benefit someone else (individuals or groups) other than (or in addition to) close relatives.




On a Standard and Enhanced DBS application, you must select a ‘workforce’ for the applicant. There are three workforces to choose from: Child Workforce, Adult Workforce, Child and Adult Workforce and Other Workforce.

The workforce relates to what sort of work the applicant will be doing in their role – for example, if they’ll be working with children, they’ll be in the Child Workforce.

For a full list of the activities that qualify for each workforce, see the DBS workforce guides.


Glossary of DBS Terminology – Conclusion


We hope that this glossary of DBS terminology has brought you up to speed on some of our most used terms when it comes to the DBS checking process.

If you’re all caught up and are ready to start the DBS checking process, get in contact with us and we’d be happy to help.