DBS Checks & Criminal Record Checks

Care Check is a leading umbrella body for the Disclosure and Barring Service and has been named one of the top 8 providers for criminal record checks in the UK.

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DBS Checks: Basic, Standard And Enhanced DBS Checks Explained

What is a DBS check? 

A DBS check is an official record stating a person’s criminal convictions. They help to ensure that employers are making the right decisions during the recruitment process.

DBS checks are especially important in finding suitable candidates to work with vulnerable groups, including children and vulnerable adults. Upon completing the checking process, an employer can request to see an applicant’s DBS certificate and decide on the next steps.

What does DBS stand for? 

DBS is an acronym for the Disclosure and Barring Service and is “an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Home Office.”

The service is responsible for the processing and issuing of checks that allow recruiters to make safer decisions regarding whom when processing an applicant and choosing who they employ. It was previously known as the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB).

Types of DBS checks 

There are three levels and four types of DBS checks: 

It is essential to know the various DBS types and levels to ensure that job applicants and employees go through proper screening.

What is a basic DBS check? 

A basic DBS check is a criminal record check that individuals and employers can request. This is the lowest level check and is available for all individuals and employers living within the UK. A basic DBS will check a person’s criminal history, convictions and cautions from the Police National Computer (PNC). A basic DBS check will show cautions or convictions that are considered “unspent” under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974.

Employers from all types of industries, such as construction or hospitality, can ask for a basic disclosure to check a candidate’s criminal record to help them decide if a candidate is fit for employment. However, for certain roles, you may need a higher level of DBS check.

A basic check costs £30 – £18 DBS Fee and £12 Admin Fee, and you can apply online.

What is a standard DBS check?

A standard DBS check is an in-depth criminal record check used by employers on behalf of applicants to ensure they are suitable for the role in question. It can only be requested by employers. 

At this level, the check shows information of all cautions, warnings and reprimands a person has. It will also surface any unspent convictions held on a person’s criminal record in England and Wales and convictions in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Standard DBS check is required for lawyers, accountants, prison workers, and other positions of high responsibility – specifically any role or duty that is listed under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975. 

A standard DBS check will ensure that employees or candidates have no prior offences, such as fraud or financial misconduct.

A standard DBS check costs £30 – £18 DBS Fee and £12 Admin Fee. Organisations can register for this service here.

What is an enhanced DBS check?

Similar to the standard DBS check, this level is only available to employers, who will have to request it on their applicant’s behalf. This level of check is specifically available for roles, or roles with duties that are listed in both the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions Order 1975) and the Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) regulations. This typically includes most roles that involve working alone with children, for example.

An enhanced DBS check has all the information contained in a standard DBS check; for example, it will reveal any unspent convictions on the applicant’s record.

However, with an enhanced check, an employer can also request to see whether a job applicant or current employee is listed on the Children’s Barred List or Adult First list.

An enhanced check ensures that a candidate is not barred from working with vulnerable groups, which can include children and vulnerable adults, but can only be requested if the candidate or employee will be involved in a regulated activity. Most roles in education and health care will require the Enhanced DBS Check.

Changes were made to the enhanced DBS in 2019.

An enhanced DBS check costs £50 – £38 DBS Fee and £12 Admin Fee. You must register to apply for the checking service here.

What is an Enhanced with Barred List Check?

An enhanced with barred list check contains the same information as an enhanced check, but will also check the candidate against the children’s and/or adults barred list. These barred lists contain the details of all those that are forbidden to work with certain vulnerable groups in particular settings (for example, working with children in schools, or with vulnerable adults in a care setting).

An enhanced with barred list check is only available for a small number of roles; specifically those listed in the Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) regulations.

Why are there three levels of DBS checks?

These three levels of DBS checks address different needs. While employers must have a clear picture of who they are hiring, they cannot and should not discriminate against a potential employee protected by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. 

What documents do I need for a DBS check?

The type of documents required for a DBS check depends on the level of DBS check being requested, and whether or not the applicant is a UK passport holder. There are also three possible routes that can be followed in order to verify an applicant’s ID.

See full details on the required DBS identity documents here.

How long does a DBS check last?

A DBS check has no expiry date; however the information is only considered “valid” up until the point the check was carried out. The standard recommendation is to renew a check every three years, but many organisations choose to repeat the checks more frequently, with some requiring the checks to be carried out as often as every 6 months.

You can find out more about how long DBS checks last here.

Can you get a DBS check if you live abroad?

As a general rule, yes, you can get a DBS check if you live abroad. However the circumstances under which the application can be made, and the identity documents that will be required, will depend on a number of factors such as whether or not the applicant is a British citizen, and how long the applicant has been living outside of the UK.

More information about DBS checks when living abroad can be found here:

DBS Checks For Overseas Applicants

Changes To DBS ID Guidelines For Non-British Citizens

Do allegations show up on a DBS check?

Whether or not criminal allegations will show up on a DBS check depends on the level of check being applied for.

An allegation or pending case (meaning that the applicant has been accused of a crime or wrongdoing but has not been convicted) will not show up on a basic or standard DBS check.

An allegation may however show up on an enhanced DBS check. This will depend on the nature of the allegation, and whether or not the police believe that the allegation is relevant to the role being applied for.

You can learn more about what will show up on a DBS check here.

Is a DBS check needed for a UK visa?

A criminal record check is not usually required as part of a UK standard visitor visa application; however you should still ensure to check the specific requirements for your country of nationality. 

You may be required to provide a criminal record certificate (or similar) if you are applying for a visa to work in the UK. As with any role in the UK, this is usually the case when you are applying for a job that will involve working with a vulnerable group.

If you are an employer and still have uncertainties regarding what type of check your current and future employees need, we at Care Check will be glad to advise you. For enquiries or support with your application, contact us on 0333 777 8575 or email us at info@carecheck.co.uk.

DBS Checks & Criminal Record Checks