Many jobs require criminal background checks before an applicant starts work. These are also known as a DBS check or CRB check. This is usually because the job involves contact with vulnerable individuals.
The main job types which ask for employment background checks are jobs involving working with children, or vulnerable adults, and healthcare workers. Other jobs which commonly request background checks might involve security, or involve responsibility for financial or other sensitive data.
What is a DBS Check?
A DBS check lets employers make a check of your criminal record. Your record contains details of any spent or unspent criminal convictions. A check allows an employer to decide if you are a suitable job candidate to work with vulnerable groups.
About the Disclosure & Barring Service
It’s estimated that around 20% of the UK population have some kind of criminal record. The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) was set up to allow employers to run employment background checks on job applicants so they could be screened before being offered work.
The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) then merged with the Independent Safeguarding Authority to become the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
The DBS check does not cover all jobs but is designed to protect children and other vulnerable sections of the community. This means employers can make sure that any candidate who is offered a job is suitable for the role and that nobody who comes into contact with that person is placed at risk.
There are various jobs where employers assess a candidates suitability by running a criminal background check.
First, lets look at what will show up in a DBS check and what the process is.
What Shows Up on a DBS Check?
There are a few different levels of DBS checks, these vary depending on the nature of the role.
The type of DBS certificate you or your potential employer need to apply for will depend on the job being applied for. A prospective employer can’t just apply for the highest level of check. The role you are applying for needs to meet eligibility criteria.
Not all criminal offences will show up on DBS checks. This can be because of convictions being considered spent on basic checks. It can also be due to some types of offences being “filtered” from standard and enhanced disclosure certificates.
Filtering means that there is no need to disclose some types of criminal offence when applying for jobs. Offences eligible for filtering are also referred to as protected cautions and convictions.
The 4 Levels of DBS Check
There are 4 levels of DBS check which your employer might run to check your criminal background. Some look at police and criminal records in more detail, depending on the sensitivity of the role.
The different types of check are as follows:-
Basic DBS Check
When you apply for a basic Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, you will get a copy of your criminal record. This shows any unspent criminal convictions or cautions and can also be referred to as “basic disclosure”.
A basic disclosure from the Disclosure and Barring Service is for people who will be working in England and Wales. If you live in Scotland or Northern Ireland, but are applying for a job in England or Wales, you should also get a DBS check from this service.
If you are in Scotland, or will be working there you’ll need to get your basic disclosure from Disclosure Scotland. Make sure you get your basic DBS check from the right service, or it may not be accepted by your employer.
Individuals can apply for a basic disclosure certificate directly from either service. This can be done online.
What Does a Basic DBS Check Show Up?
A basic DBS check certificate will show only unspent convictions. If you have old convictions that have reached a period as set by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, they will be removed from your criminal record. This means they are considered spent, and will not show up in a basic DBS check.
Any custodial sentence which exceeds 2.5 years will always show up in a basic dbs check. That means they will never be spent.
Standard DBS Check
A Standard DBS check (or standard disclosure in Scotland) is usually done for more sensitive roles such as security work or medical roles.
An individual cannot apply for a standard DBS check, the certificate must be requested by a company or organisation.
What Does a Standard DBS Check Show Up?
A standard DBS check certificate will show all convictions whether spent or unspent. It will also show cautions, reprimands, and final warnings. Some types of conviction will be subject to filtering (see below).
Youth cautions, reprimands, and warnings will not show on a standard DBS certificate.
Enhanced DBS Check
Enhanced checks cover all the same things as a standard check. The check will also include any information held on police records considered of relevance to the role.
Enhanced DBS with Barring List Check
These checks cover everything an enhanched DBS check does. The certificate will include a check of the Disclosure and Barring Service’s adult and children barred lists. These lists record adults who are barred from working with vulnerable adults and children.
DBS Caution and Conviction Filtering
In 2013, the UK government introduced a filtering system for information returned on DBS certificates.
The system means that not all types of cautions and convictions are revealed by DBS checks. Some cautions and convictions are filtered so they don’t show up on the DBS certificates. Under the 1974 Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, employers are not allowed to consider filtered offences when looking at the suitability an applicant for a job.
Offences eligible for filtering include:
- Common assault
- Some motoring offences.
- Minor drugs convictions, not involving supply.
- Theft without violence.
Examples of offences NOT eligible for filtering (also known as specified offences) include:
- Safeguarding offences
- Supply of drug offences.
- Sexual offending
- Some violent crimes.
Who Needs DBS Checks For Work?
There are many employment sectors which will commonly require checks into the criminal record of employees.
Working with Children Check
Anybody who intends to work with children under the age of 18, or who may even come into contact with them during the course of their job, are subject to a DBS check.
This includes teachers, classroom assistants, childminders, people applying for adoption and people applying to become a foster carer. If the contact is to be in a persons own home, then everybody living in the house will be subject to a background check, regardless of whether or not they are the ones making the application to work with children.
Working with Vulnerable Adults
The background check extends to anybody who will be looking to work in the provision of care services to vulnerable adults. This incorporates working with people over 18 who have a learning or physical disability or a physical or mental illness.
Anybody intending to work in the healthcare profession is also subject to a CRB check. For example, GPs, nurses, midwives, surgeons, dentists, psychologists, osteopaths, vets, chemists etc.
Other Occupations Requiring Checks
Many other professions are also subject to being vetted through the CRB before a person can be deemed suitable to take a job within the profession. Some of the more common professions include people who work in the private security sector.
- Security guards.
- HM Customs & Excise employees.
- Some financial and legal services roles.
- SPCA inspectors.
- Firearms dealers.
- People who work in gaming or betting establishments.
Benefits to the Candidate
The CRB check process is not designed to be intrusive upon an individuals private life or background but to simply safeguard vulnerable sections of society.
In fact, in having passed the check, you will be provided with the Disclosure certificate which states that you have passed. You will then be able to use it to apply for other similar roles. Having passed the check, it also demonstrates your commitment to applying for specific roles which require the Disclosure.
You may also be asked to undergo other pre employment background checks before starting your new job.
Can I Still Apply For A Job with a Criminal Record?
One of the most common reasons for people being put off applying for jobs that require a CRB check is that they might have a criminal record. This could be for something entirely unrelated to the job.
However, you should not be discouraged from applying as it is against the law to discriminate against anybody who has a criminal record where the crime committed has no bearing on the risk factors of them being able to carry out the job.
Likewise, not all applicants will receive a CRB check, only those who the company or organisation have decided to offer the job to in principle, will be required to have a CRB check run on them.
For more information about the Disclosure and Barring Service, check out the Government Website
FAQs on DBS Checks
You can apply for a DBS check on your own. However, an individual can only apply for a basic DBS check. A standard or enhanced check must come from a company or organisation. The more in depth checks cannot be conducted by someone on their own behalf.
Only an employer can request an enhanced DBS check, and it must be in relation to an appropriate role. Only a basic DBS check can be requested by an individual.
- Our at a glance guide to what shows up on a DBS check goes into more detail on what convictions and cautions will be surfaced during the different types of background check.
- Wondering if cautions will show on a DBS check? Our in depth guide looks at different types of cautions and checks, and what can and can’t show up.
- If you’re concerned about which driving offences will show on a DBS our guide will help.