Employers should have a good understanding of not just the type of checks they are legally obliged to request during a recruitment drive but also the kind of information that can be uncovered. This will allow an informed decision to be reached on whether or not a candidate is fit for a role. 

Additionally, it is beneficial to hold a deep understanding of what is involved in the checking process should a candidate have questions. For those requesting a standard DBS check, that involves understanding the role of the Police National Computer.

What is the Police National Computer?

The Police National Computer, also referred to as a PNC, is a central system holding information pertaining to individuals who have been reprimanded, cautioned, warned, arrested or convicted for a recordable offence. It also stores information regarding impending prosecutions and any arrests that ended without further action.

This system can be accessed by:

  • The Disclosure and Barring Service
  • The House of Commons / House of Lords
  • HMRC
  • Royal Mail
  • HM Prison Service
  • The Home Office

As well as others.

What is the Police National database?

The Police National Database, also known as the PND, houses local ‘soft’ information, including investigations that were not resolved by a conviction. Information from the PND can form part of an enhanced DBS check, however, whether it is utilised is decided on a case-by-case basis.

It is useful to understand the difference between the PNC and the PND, particularly when describing the DBS check process to a potential employee.

What is held on the Police National Computer?

The PNC stores information of individuals who were, or are, of interest to law enforcement agencies within the UK. This could be because they:

  • Have cautions and convictions related to criminal offences
  • Have escaped from specified institutions
  • Hold a certificate for a firearm
  • Are wanted for a crime
  • Are missing (or have been found)
  • Are waiting for a court appearance or are subject to some other form of legal process
  • Have specific court orders against them
  • Have been disqualified by a court from driving / have a driving record with the DVLA

These are the types of results that may show up on a standard DBS check if they are held within the Police National Computer. 

How long does a Police National Computer search take?

The Police National Computer database is available 24/7; however, a standard DBS check can take up to 14 days from the start of the check to the certificate arriving. There are instances when this can be delayed, including accidentally listing incorrect information on the form (such as name or address) or if the individual being checked failed to disclose a conviction, requiring the police to carry out additional checks. Finally, there are times where there may be a backlog that the police are working through.

Enhanced DBS checks can be daunting for potential employees, even if they have nothing to hide. Therefore, being able to offer an in-depth description of the process, including the role of the PNC and PND will help to put their mind at ease.