6 Important Facts About Criminal Records & DBS Checks
If you are applying for a DBS Check and you have a criminal record there are various facts that you need to be aware of before and when applying.
The truth is, people living with a criminal record in the UK are likely to be affected in a number of different ways. Some are obvious, such as difficulty securing certain types of employment or getting travel visas to visit foreign countries.
But some of the consequences are less obvious. In this article, we’ll explore several ways that having a criminal record can affect people’s lives. We’ll also look at how different types of criminal record entries may affect the outcome of a DBS check.
What is a criminal record?
Let’s start with a brief outline of what a criminal record is and clear up any misconceptions you may have.
A criminal record is a list that contains details of crimes that an individual has been convicted of in a court of law (magistrate’s court or crown court). Official criminal records are held on the Police National Computer (PNC), but local police departments often keep their own separate records too.
An individual’s criminal record contains all convictions that result in a prison sentence or community sentence. Many minor offences such as motoring offences including speeding and careless driving are not included on a criminal record.
DBS checks highlight any entries on a person’s criminal record. A basic DBS check reveals unspent convictions only. A standard DBS check reveals spent and unspent convictions, as well as cautions, warnings and reprimands. An enhanced DBS check is the same as a standard check, but it also checks through barred lists.
6 things to know about criminal records & DBS checks
If you or someone you know has been convicted of an offence in the past and served a prison sentence, there’s a good chance it still remains on a criminal record. Here are 6 things you should know about this may affect you.
1. May Affect Employment Opportunities
Let’s start with an obvious one. Criminal convictions on a record, especially unspent ones, could seriously hamper the person’s chance of gaining certain types of employment. Any job that requires a high level of responsibility or trust, such as financial supervision or care work with vulnerable groups, may disqualify applicants with unspent convictions on their record.
If you’re unsure whether your conviction is spent or not, the rules are:
- prison sentences of 4 years or longer are never spent.
- prison sentences between 6 months and 4 years, are considered spent within 4 to 7 years of release or sentence completion.
- prison sentences of less than 6 months are spent when 2 years have elapsed since the end of the sentence.
If the nature of the crime means that the individual should be prevented from working with vulnerable adults or children, even if the conviction is spent, the name will be added to the DBS barred list(s).
Fortunately, a parliamentary act was created to help people convicted of crimes to get back to work, known as the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974. Under this act, people with spent convictions who were sentenced to less than 4 years in prison do not need to disclose their convictions or cautions to potential employers. It also applies to insurance applications.
This can help people convicted of relatively minor offences to make a fresh start and find gainful employment.
2. Insurance issues
If you have unspent convictions on your record, you are obliged to disclose them on insurance applications. If you don’t, any future claims could be contested or rejected by the underwriters. Declaring unspent convictions may result in your application being turned down, or you may be required to pay a higher premium for your insurance cover.
If you’re not sure whether your convictions are spent or unspent, you can apply for an online DBS check to find out quickly.
3. University or college applications may be declined
Most universities in the UK ask applicants to disclose unspent convictions or any other criminal record entries. Minor offences and convictions such as fixed penalty speeding or drunk and disorderly shouldn’t go against you (usually they won’t show up on a criminal record unless it was a serious speeding offence or drink-driving incident that resulted in a dangerous driving conviction).
However, university and college applications from people that have been convicted of violent or sexual offences will often be declined.
4. Difficulties obtaining travel Visas
Some countries have strict rules when applying for travel Visas. The USA and Australia are notoriously vigilant when it comes to checking criminal records for Visa applications. The immigration authorities will check Visa applications and if a spent or unspent conviction is highlighted it may mean refused entry.
Our advice is not to be tempted to take part in any Visa waiver programs, as the passport control of the country you’re visiting may refuse entry on arrival. You’re better off carrying out a DBS check yourself before filling out your application and disclosing everything upfront. If your Visa is declined, at least you haven’t wasted money on travel costs.
5. Potential blocks from voluntary work and public office positions
If your criminal record contains unspent convictions or certain types of spent convictions, then you may find yourself barred from certain types of voluntary work (especially working with vulnerable groups) or holding elected political and council positions.
For political positions, it is usually the individual party that vets potential candidates for elected roles. For instance, if the Labour or Conservative party are choosing somebody to stand for a local election, they will most likely carry out an enhanced DBS check on the individual candidates..
6. Difficulties in adopting children
Depending on the type of offence(s) contained on a criminal record, individuals may find that they have difficulty adopting a child, or are barred from doing so. Most minor offences that are spent won’t stand against you in an adoption application, as long as you are honest and upfront about them.
If you’re unsure on the status of any convictions, it may be a good idea to undertake a DBS check to find out your criminal record before applying to adopt a child.
Summary of the consequences of having a criminal record
There’s no doubt that having a criminal record can hold you back in certain areas of life.
But initiatives like the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act are designed to give people another chance, as long as their crime isn’t of a nature that makes them too risky to hold certain roles in society.
To find out exactly what is on your criminal record, the best way is to apply for a DBS check. You can do this online today and get your result within hours or a couple of days at most.
If you have any questions dont hesitate to contact us here