5 Common DBS Check Myths & Misconceptions
There are various myths and misconceptions around DBS Checks. This can be due to the fact that procedures are always changing and people are not up to date with the current requirements.
If a DBS check is not carried out properly, it potentially leaves the door open to predatory criminals working with vulnerable groups such as children or the elderly. It is therefore important to be aware of what is right and wrong when applying for a DBS Check.
Myth #1: DBS checks are a pass or fail test
Many people believe that a DBS certificate will show either a “pass” or “fail”. This is not true. The DBS check process does not make any kind of judgement on the applicant, it simply reveals any information held on the individual’s criminal record. If no offences are highlighted the DBS certificate is referred to as “clear” rather than as a “pass”.
A basic DBS check reveals unspent convictions. A standard DBS check reveals spent and unspent convictions, as well as cautions, reprimands, and warnings. An enhanced DBS check reveals the same as a standard check, but also checks for any other information held by local police forces such as interview notes, concerns raised, etc.
Once the DBS results are obtained, it is up to the employer to decide whether any criminal wrongdoings that are highlighted should preclude the individual from doing the job in question.
Myth #2: A criminal record will prevent you from getting a job
Having past criminal offences on your record does not necessarily prevent you from getting a job, even those that request a DBS check. It is down to the employer’s discretion as to whether your criminal past will pose a risk to other people or to the business or organisation.
If you are applying to work with children or vulnerable adults and you have previous offences that were sexual or violent in nature, then your application is likely to be dismissed.
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 makes it compulsory for employers to give reformed criminals a fair chance at getting gainful employment.
Myth #3: DBS checks expire after a certain number of years
This myth has come about due to the fact that most employers and organisations that require DBS checks ask for them to be renewed at set intervals – usually every two to three years.
The truth is, DBS checks don’t have an official expiry date. They are simply a report of an individual’s criminal record at the time of the application. This means that employers and individuals are not notified if any new convictions appear on the record. In other words, a DBS check or certificate is not a “live” document that is updated and can therefore expire on a certain date.
The best advice for employees is to make sure that you tell your employer about any changes to your criminal record. Don’t try to hide any convictions, warnings or cautions. It doesn’t look good if you are hiding things from your employer and if you are trying to conceal details of serious crimes that may endanger vulnerable groups, you could face additional criminal prosecutions.
Myth #4: Anybody can apply for a DBS check
The main purpose of a DBS check is to vet people for certain job roles or voluntary positions. It was originally set up to protect children and vulnerable adults, but it has expanded to allow employers to check on applicant’s character for roles that demand a responsible attitude.
Anybody can request a basic DBS check, employer or individual, as it is the least intrusive and cheapest check which only reveals spent convictions. Standard or enhanced DBS checks can only be requested by an employer on behalf of an individual. Therefore, not all DBS checks are open to everybody.
Myth #5: You can only apply for a DBS check by post
In days gone by, this was true. To obtain a DBS certificate (or CRB certificate as it was previously known) you would need to fill in a paper form by hand and post it, along with your identification documents to the DBS for processing. It can still be done this way, but it usually takes up to two weeks to receive, process, and return the results of a DBS check. This is not ideal for most employers or job applicants as it slows down the recruitment process.
Fortunately, there is a much better option these days which involves applying for the DBS check online. The online DBS check application process involves filling in and submitting an online form that guides people through the process with ease and highlights potential errors or missing information (another benefit that speeds up the process).
The main benefit of an online DBS check is the speed with which it is processed and returned, often within 24 hours of submitting the application. You can apply for this here.