Frequently Asked Questions
Formerly known as a CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check, a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) looks at an individual’s criminal history and, depending on the level of check, information from police intelligence and DBS barred list information. The purpose of all DBS checks is to assist employers with recruitment decisions.
With the introduction of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, the CRB and ISA (Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) closed and the DBS was formed in their place. DBS is responsible for all functions that CRB and ISA previously carried out. The DBS also carries out all Basic level checks for applicants in England and Wales. This was previously completed by Disclosure Scotland.
An organisation would be legally liable if a safeguarding issue arises when working with children and/or vulnerable adults. To prevent any potential problems, all eligible staff and volunteers should be checked appropriately.
You will need to use the UK Government Eligibility Tool to find out which level check each potential member of staff requires.
Basic DBS Check – This check shows all unspent convictions of the applicant. Can be applied for by a company or an individual.
Standard DBS Check – Eligible for certain roles that don’t have regular contact with children or vulnerable adults such as financial, legal and gaming.
Enhanced DBS Check – This is a mandatory check for roles involving children and vulnerable adults which shows all spent and unspent criminal convictions and reprimands. Not only is this checked against the Police National Computer, but also against the children and adults barred lists.
It is the responsibility of the employer to decide the correct level of disclosure for an employee and the environment they will be working in. Please refer to the disclosure types page for more information on basic, standard and enhanced disclosures.
An individual can request a Basic disclosure on themselves and this will contain information on convictions unspent, however, an individual cannot request a Standard or Enhanced DBS Check (formerly known as CRB) as this would need to be requested by an organisation or individual that is eligible to ask about an applicants unspent convictions. Organisations are allowed to ask such questions if they are to be placing an individual in a working environment that is deemed as restrictive.
If you are self-employed you would only be able to undertake a basic Disclosure check on yourself and this can be done through Care Check via the DBS in England and Wales and Disclosure Scotland for within Scotland.
If you are volunteering or working in certain roles then a Standard or Enhanced check may be needed, but even if you are self-employed you cannot do this yourself. In this situation, the self-employed individual would have to refer to a third party, such as a professional body, to request a check on their behalf.
There is no rule that states who is liable to pay for a DBS check. Payment set-up differs for each organisation. Some employers pay for their staff checks, however, other companies opt for their applicants to pay for their own disclosures at the time of application. If you are an applicant, please check with your employer before applying so you are aware of your payment options.
Any individual that has received a conviction, whether it be a caution, reprimand or warning, will have this information put on their criminal record and held on the Police National Computer. As defined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, after a certain length of time, this criminal record will become ‘spent’ and would no longer appear on a Basic disclosure. If you would like to know the exact time frames for these please contact the DBS directly. Pre-May 2013 legislation saw both Enhanced and Standard disclosures showing all previous convictions, however, since 29th May 2013 certain conditions have seen convictions being ‘filtered’ which means that some offences would not appear on the certificate. There is a large list of conviction types and offences that, under the new legislation, can never be filtered from a certificate.
The DBS will only reprint another copy if the original certificate was lost in the post en-route to the applicant and if it is reported within 90 days of the issue date. There is only ever one paper copy of the certificate and this is issued to the applicant.
85 per cent of all Enhanced applications complete within five days and 62% complete within 24 hours. Standard checks take between 24 hours and 4 calendar days and 90% of Basic checks complete in as little as 24 hours.
Although this timescale is mostly accurate, every application is different; some disclosures are processed within 24 hours, but other applications could take slightly longer for several reasons. These often include internal enquiries, a criminal record or an error on an application.
Every DBS certificate will have an employer’s name on the hard copy certificate and the job role intended. The certificate will be regulated to correspond with the intended job role. If an applicant gets a new job with a different organisation, they will be required to undertake a new DBS check as the previous certificate will be linked to their former employer and job role. For example, if a person worked as a cleaner in a care home, but then moved to a hospital to work as a care assistant, they would require a new disclosure because the job role and organisation had changed.
A company or organisation are legally responsible for ensuring an individual is entitled to apply for the job role in question. The employer is legally obliged to ensure that anyone who is working for their organisation in regulated activity with children and vulnerable adults has not been barred from working with adults or children.
It is a common misconception that a person can fail a DBS check. To clarify, no one can pass or fail a criminal record check because it is not a test. It is purely there to check someone’s details so that an employer can be made aware whether an individual has a criminal record or not. If an application does complete and there is information that has been provided on the certificate, the applicant will need to produce this to the employer so they can make a recruitment decision based on the outcome.
Whether you aim to work in a care home, as a carer or in some other healthcare role that goes into patients’ homes to deliver care, your clients will likely be considered vulnerable. This means that you will be subjected to an Enhanced DBS check as part of the recruitment process. Depending on the role, your check may also include the barring list.