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What is Regulated Activity?

If you’ve been wondering about Regulated Activity, the chances are that you’ve been looking at safeguarding vulnerable adults or children. When looking at safeguarding, understanding Regulated Activity is essential. If we look at some recent data for context, there were just under 500,000 safeguarding concerns for vulnerable adults raised between 2020 and 2021, which was 5% more than the previous year.

As for children, 536 serious incidents were reported in the same year. This figure was also higher by 87 than the previous year. Included in these statistics were 223 child deaths (up by 35 on the previous year) and 284 notifications of serious harm (up by 31 on the previous year).

Finally, though no recent data is available, there were 2,635 people barred from working with children and 1,305 barred from working with adults in 2013. There were also 900 barred from working with both.

As these statistics show, it’s important to know the law when it comes to Regulated Activity. This article will provide information about what Regulated Activity is and will provide enough information for organisations that need this knowledge to protect the children or vulnerable adults in their care.

What is Regulated Activity?

Regulated Activity is the official term that describes activities and job tasks as described by the DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service). The requirements for Regulated Activity are important because they determine which people need to go through a DBS check and at what level.

There are two different groups of Regulated Activity. These include ‘Activity with Adults’ (i.e., vulnerable adults) and ‘Activity with Children’. There is no designated list of jobs that are considered to be Regulated Activity. Instead, employers or organisers are required to decide whether the employees or volunteers they’re responsible for are carrying out Regulated Activity.

Essentially, Regulated Activity pays reference to specific roles that involve vulnerable adults or children. Typical roles include providing care or teaching, for example. Anyone whose name is on the DBS barred lists is unable to carry out this work. Thus, any organisation that recruits people to carry out Regulated Activity, must ensure Enhanced DBS checks are done in order to check whether their potential employees or volunteers are barred from this type of work.

An Enhanced DBS, as well as being a barred list check, will also reveal other convictions. As mentioned previously, there are two types of Regulated Activity: Regulated Activity with children, and Regulated Activity with adults. These cover different activities and premises.

Regulated activity helping woman eat

What is non-Regulated Activity?

It’s crucial for people to understand that a DBS check requirement only applies to formal situations like official volunteer work or formal employment. More specifically, it doesn’t apply to things like babysitting a friend’s child, visiting a nursing home, working in a gym or store, or unexpected supervision, e.g., should a colleague bring a child into work for a day.

Can anyone carry out Regulated Activity?

The simple answer is no. Regulated Activity cannot be carried out by everyone. A person who appears on a barred list from a barred list check, cannot carry out Regulated Activity.

There are two barred lists: one relating to children and one relating to adults. A person can appear on the adult list, the child list, or both. The lists were created in line with the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act of 2006.

Unlike a straightforward DBS check, which allows the employer to make judgements on whether to employ a person based on their criminal history if a person appears on a barred list check, it is a crime to employ them for Regulated Activity. What’s more, the person who applies for such a role is also committing an offence with their application when they know they are on a barred list.

People whose names are added to the barred list will have committed a serious crime – so serious that they are a potential risk to vulnerable adults or children forever. The most common offences are violence (against vulnerable adults or children) and sexual offences.

Any person who is convicted of serious neglect, physical abuse or sexual abuse will likely find themselves on a barred list. When the offences aren’t as serious, individuals can make a formal request that they are not added to the lists, or they can appeal the decision to put them on the lists.

Once a person’s name is on a barred list, they cannot work in any role that involves having direct contact with vulnerable adults or children. When a role includes Regulated Activity, an Enhanced DBS check with barred list check is mandatory.

Regulated Activity laws and regulations

The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act (SVGA) 2006 introduced significant changes to the vetting process for anyone working with vulnerable adults or children. It was also amended in 2012 with the Protections of Freedoms Act (PoFA).

The SVGA was created following recommendations by Sir Michael Bichard following an inquiry into the murder of two 10-year-old girls by Ian Huntley in Soham in 2002. The changes were made as Huntley had been working as the girls’ school caretaker despite him having an extensive criminal record, which involved sexual offences against young women and underage girls.

The barred lists came into force in 2009.

What does an Enhanced DBS check cover?

When a request is made for an Enhanced DBS check, the person’s name is checked in the Police National Computer (PNC) and the barring lists for any:

  • Cautions.
  • Convictions.
  • Youth cautions (warnings/reprimands).
  • Cautions/convictions that have been stepped down previously.
  • Police intelligence reports.
  • Inclusion on barring lists.

When an offence is listed, the report will give details of the caution or conviction, including the date, court name, date and nature of the offence, and any imposed sentence information.

Checking for convictions.

What doesn’t an Enhanced DBS check cover?

When an Enhanced DBS check is carried out, it won’t reveal items like:

  • Fixed penalty notices (i.e., littering fines, speeding tickets, etc.).
  • Allegations that didn’t lead to prosecution.
  • Filtered convictions or cautions.
  • Details of convictions or cautions being spent/unspent.

What is Regulated Activity with children?

There are two groups of Regulated Activities for children: places of work and work activities. It’s essential to understand what these  mean as both need to be considered when determining whether Regulated Activities are occurring in an organisation.

Regulated work activities

According to the guidance set out by the government, activities are regulated when they meet these criteria:

  • Instructing, teaching, training, coaching and supervising children. This is regulated if the same person carries out the activity frequently (i.e., once per week +) for four or more days a month, or overnight.
  • Delivering care (physically helping children with eating, drinking, toileting, bathing, dressing or washing, or mental health care). This is regulated if the same person carries out the activity frequently (i.e., once per week +) for four or more days a month, or overnight. There are exceptions to this, and the activity can be classed as regulated even if it will only happen once.
  • Providing guidance or advice mainly (or wholly) for children’s educational, physical and emotional wellbeing. This is regulated if the same person carries out the activity frequently (i.e., once per week +) for four or more days a month, or overnight.
  • Moderating services used by children online. This is regulated if the same person carries out the activity frequently (i.e., once per week +) for four or more days a month, or overnight.
  • Driving vehicles used by children, e.g., school buses. This is regulated if the same person carries out the activity frequently (i.e., once per week +) for four or more days a month, or overnight.
  • Providing children with foster care, even if it is a private arrangement.

Regulated workplaces

The guidance also stipulates that certain activities in a workplace are classed as Regulated Activities when they occur in a specified establishment, e.g., in an educational setting that is designed mainly or exclusively for the provision of full-time education.

Therefore, even though a person might not be carrying out specific Regulated Activity tasks and only doing ancillary roles, the fact that they are in such a place, means that their activity is still considered Regulated. This is because they will come into contact with children. Examples include onsite maintenance staff, kitchen staff, cleaning staff and IT technicians.

Regulated locations include:

  • Schools.
  • Nurseries.
  • PRUs (pupil referral units).
  • Children’s detention centres.
  • Children’s centres.
  • Children’s homes.
  • Childcare settings.

When people with an ancillary role in one of the above settings meet the following four conditions, their role is considered a Regulated Activity:

  • The work is for 4 days or more per month or between 2am and 6am, and the person has the opportunity to be face-to-face with children.
  • Their job means they have contact with children in the setting.
  • They work for the setting’s purpose.
  • The work isn’t occasional, temporary or a voluntary role under supervision.
A regulated activity helping child with getting dressed

What is Regulated Activity with adults?

There are six different groups when it comes to Regulated Activity and safeguarding adults. These are:

1. Healthcare provision.

2. Help with or provision of personal care.

3. Social work provision.

4. Assisting with household matters (general).

5. Assistance with personal affairs.

6. Conveying someone to a place of care.

Unlike Regulated Activity with children, these six categories of activity are always regulated no matter how many times someone is involved in them. These Regulated Activities are always applied equally, no matter who is carrying them out (e.g., care homes, hospitals, sheltered housing, prisons, day care centres, etc.).

Let’s look at what each of these six groups entail:

Healthcare provision

A person who provides any sort of direct healthcare to an adult, even under supervision, is carrying out Regulated Activity.

This could be:

  • Physical or mental healthcare.
  • Palliative care.
  • Investigations or diagnostic tests.
  • Medical/surgical procedures – including donating blood or cosmetic surgery.
  • Counselling and psychotherapy.
  • First aid by an organisation like St. John’s Ambulance.

Personal care provision

A person who assists with or provides personal care when a person is unable to due to a disability, illness or their age.

This might include:

  • Physical assistance with drinking, eating, washing, toileting, dressing, skincare, oral hygiene, etc.
  • Training someone else to carry out the above.
  • Supervising and prompting an adult for the above activities.

Exceptions include a hairdresser visiting a care setting infrequently to cut hair.

Social work

A social worker carrying out a task for a potential client or client is engaging in Regulated Activity. This might be reviewing or assessing service needs including identifying housing, healthcare or lifestyle adjustments or providing support programmes or groups.

Assisting with household matters

A person helping someone with household tasks (due to age, disability or illness) is carrying out Regulated Activity.

This includes:

  • Assisting with or managing finances.
  • Assisting with or paying bills.
  • Assisting with or shopping on behalf of someone else.

Assistance with personal finances and affairs

Regulated Activity involves:

  • Assisting someone with Enduring or Lasting POA (power of attorney) under or within the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
  • An appointment of an adult’s deputy (under the Mental Capacity Act 2005).
  • Being a Mental Capacity or Mental Health Advocate.
  • Providing advocacy services (under the NHS Act).
  • Receiving payments on behalf of someone else (under the Social Security Administration Act 1992).

These Regulated Activities might involve dealing with financial accounts and institutions like banks and building societies. They might also involve dealing with legal issues for the person.

Conveying someone to a place of care

Any person who is involved in transporting a person due to a disability, illness or their age from or to a place for personal care, social work or healthcare is carrying out a Regulated Activity. Such an activity has to be to enable an adult to access a service on behalf of an organisation.

This applies to:

  • Hospital (or other) porters.
  • Patient transport drivers or assistants.
  • Emergency care assistants and ambulance technicians.

There are exceptions for licensed private hire and taxi drivers. These rules don’t apply for other trips either.

Hospital porters

Conclusion – what is Regulated Activity?

Hopefully, you now understand what is classed as Regulated Activity and thus know which activities require Enhanced DBS checks that include a barred list check of either adults’ or children’s barred lists.

For anyone uncertain, there is a handy DBS checking tool on the government website to help organisations with requesting the appropriate checks in order to have safe recruitment practices. Proper checks can prevent abuse, including organisational abuse, and can ensure there is safer recruitment in schools, healthcare and social care settings.

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About the author

Louise Woffindin

Louise Woffindin

Louise is a writer and translator from Sheffield. Before turning to writing, she worked as a secondary school language teacher. Outside of work, she is a keen runner and also enjoys reading and walking her dog Chaos.



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