‘Homes for Ukraine’ – Will the promised DBS checks be adequate enough? – OPINION PIECE

At this point in time, we are all heartbreakingly aware of the situation that is currently taking place in Ukraine, where millions are currently fleeing Ukraine from the Russian invasion.

It has been estimated that more than 2.5 million Ukrainians have fled their home since the conflict began, and many countries across Europe have been welcoming refugees with open arms. The UK however, has been criticised for not doing enough.

Currently our current strict entry requirements and visa system mean we have only taken an estimated 3000 refugees at the time of writing this blog post.

With this being said, the UK has recently announced the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme. This scheme is looking for up to 40,000 British homeowners to open their home to Ukrainian refugees if they have the capacity to do so, and the first phase of this scheme began on the 21st of March 2022.

What do we know so far?

The news and information regarding this scheme changing on a day-by-day basis, but this is the information that we have currently:

• Refugees entering the UK will be subject to number checks prior to having their visas issued. These checks include criminal record and biometric checks.

• All households welcoming Ukrainian refugees will undergo checks by their local council on the properties and households. Also, all households will be visited to ensure the accommodation is fit for purpose and suitable for the refugees they will be hosting.

• If the accommodation is self-contained and if adults without specific vulnerabilities are coming into the property; then a Basic DBS check is all that will be undertaken on all adult members in the sponsor household.

• If any Ukrainian refugees under the age of 18 age going to be accommodated in a volunteer’s household, then an Enhanced DBS check will be undertaken on all people in the volunteer’s household over 16.

• Also, where a local authority knows that there is a vulnerable adult guest arriving in the household and has particular needs for which the sponsor is to provide support, a request for an Enhanced DBS can be made by the Local Authority.

• The DBS is requiring a charges for the basic and enhanced checks. This means councils will be required to cover the cost of DBS checks from the £10,500 funding that is being made available to ensure they can provide support to the participants of the scheme and refugees.

• UK homeowners who sign up to this scheme will need to commit for a minimum of six months, and as a thank you for their generosity, the government will pay those taking part £350 per month.

What do we think here at CBS?

We think it’s a great concept and is designed to help and support families during the most harrowing of times, although there are some concerns. For example, an enhanced DBS checks will only be required on those within the household of the host family, if Ukraine family includes children or vulnerable adults.  However, if the family seeking refuge doesn’t have children or care for a vulnerable adult then only a basic level checks is required.  A basic level check reveals a significantly less amount of information compared to the enhanced.  As the image below illustrates, a basic DBS check will only highlight unspent criminal convictions.

The UK government has chosen not to undertake enhanced checks as a blanket approach for all UK citizens who wish to partake in the scheme, which is receiving criticism as it could put victims of war at an even greater risk. Homeowners who are not suitable could mean refugees are placed in a vulnerable or traumatic environment. Most know that those who are signing up and offering their homes to house Ukrainian refugees are doing this out of the goodness of their heart, but without a full enhanced DBS check, people who are unsuitable will slip through the cracks. At worse predators will capitalise on the scheme, exploiting refugees in their moment of need.

Unfortunately, the UK has does not have a fantastic record when it comes to preventing exploitation of those in need of help. Without a full enhanced DBS check, some fear that the scheme will let through many unsuitable individuals, placing refugees with predators who seek out the vulnerable or those involved with human trafficking.

Here in the UK, we must do everything possible to ensure the safety of those seeking refuge in the UK and running enhanced DBS checks gives us a greater opportunity to protect the most vulnerable in our society.

How can we help?

Our DBS Team is working with Local Authorities across the UK, some existing customers, some new customers, and some just needing to outsource this part of their safeguarding process due to resource restraints.  In relation to this scheme, here at CBS we’re offering first line support to all!  Our DBS Team is supporting organisations on a daily basis to help manage their processes and DBS checks in order create a safe and welcoming environment for the needs of the Ukraine nationals. Whether a basic or enhanced DBS check is needed, working with CBS allows you the peace of mind that you can easily meet and manage all of the government requirements.

To find out more, call us today on 01443 799900, or email us at info@cbsreening.co.uk

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