DBS Checks & Criminal Record Checks

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DBS Filtering Guide: What Does Filtering Mean On A DBS Check?

When you’re looking for a new job, one of the most important things to consider is your safety. That’s why many employers conduct background checks on potential employees before hiring them. As the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) conducts basic, standard and enhanced DBS checks, employers are able to easily determine the suitability of prospective candidates in relation to a wide range of jobs.

One of the ways that DBS checks are conducted is by filtering out certain types of convictions from the results. Filtering detects particular cautions and convictions, which it classifies as protected, and ensures that they are not disclosed within the DBS check.

Any past offences and warnings which are protected and took place a sufficient number of years ago will not be included on the DBS certificate and shall not impact on a candidate’s chances of obtaining the role.

Here’s what DBS filtering means and how it can help protect you.

Why Was DBS Filtering Implemented?

Previously, DBS checks or CRB checks disclosed all information relating to an applicant’s history, whatever that conviction, reprimand, warning or conviction was or however old it was. But in May 2013 the DBS filtering rules were introduced which meant minor criminal offences that met a certain criterion would be removed and filtered from an Enhanced or Standard DBS certificate.

In May 2013 filtering was implemented due to a supreme court ruling that worked in favour of applicants who were having convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings disclosed that were not relevant to the jobs and positions they were applying for. In many cases, individuals would have offers of employment withdrawn due to what was contained on their certificate which was not necessarily fair.

However, certain convictions would never be filtered from a DBS certificate, and there is quite an extensive list via gov.uk. Examples of these would be the most serious convictions which involve, danger to life, violence, sexual offences and drug offences amongst a few.

Under the existing filtering rules, if an applicant had more than one caution, reprimand, warning or conviction of any kind, then all would be disclosed and none would be filtered.

The DBS would also show juvenile, warnings, reprimands and convictions, but as of the 28th November 2020, filtering changed due to the Supreme Court ruling. This is because The Supreme Court has judged that some elements of the current filtering rules are disproportionate.

What Is The New Legislation?

The new legislation dictates that a DBS certificate will no longer disclose youth reprimands, youth warnings, or youth cautions.  The DBS will also no longer disclose all convictions where somebody has more than one conviction. Instead, each individual conviction will be assessed against the other rules (Previously if an applicant had more than one conviction then no convictions would be filtered).

DBS Checks & Criminal Record Checks

How Does Information Filtering Impact Employers?

If there are cautions and convictions that occurred a long time ago and are of a minor nature, employers will not be able to let such situations impact their recruitment decision-making. These cautions and convictions are not permitted to be regarded as contributing factors within the hiring process.

Employers also cannot ask any applicants to disclose certain convictions or cautions. The employer is only seen as being legally entitled to be informed of any past concerns that are not protected by filtering.

An enhanced or standard DBS check can still be requested by an employer, provided the relevant job title falls within the remit of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) and where applicable the Police Act Regulations (as amended). However, with both enhanced and standard DBS checks, employers can only question applicants about any cautions and convictions that are not protected via filtering.

If an employer learns of a caution or conviction that would not otherwise have been disclosed due to filtering and uses the information they have acquired to influence the hiring decision, they are acting unlawfully. This is stated within the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

It is therefore advisable for employers to keep a written record of the justifications for hiring decisions, especially rejections. Include whether any spent convictions and cautions played a part in the decision-making and, if so, why it was appropriate to bear them in mind during the hiring process.

According to legislation, a DBS certificate will always include the following, where applicable:

  • cautions relating to an offence from a list agreed by Parliament
  • cautions are given to an adult less than 6 years ago
  • cautions are given to a minor less than 2 years ago
  • convictions relating to an offence from a prescribed list
  • where the individual has more than one conviction offence all convictions will be included on the certificate (no conviction will be filtered)
  • convictions that resulted in a custodial sentence (regardless of whether served)
  • convictions which did not result in a custodial sentence, given less than 11 years ago (where individuals 18 or over at the time of conviction)
  • convictions of a minor which did not result in a custodial sentence, given less than 5.5 years ago

Are There Any Positions Where Current DBS Check Filtering Does Not Apply?

Simply put, yes. While this is rare, there are nevertheless a small set of specific job titles that enable any cautions or convictions by the individual to be considered. These positions are not subject to the DBS process and include police vetting and firearms licence applications. For further guidance regarding the DBS filtering process or how to arrange a DBS check for your prospective employees, please contact us today. Care Check get 90% of Basic DBS Checks back in less than 24 hours, and 60% of Standard and Enhanced DBS checks back in under 24 hours.


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