Do Cautions Show Up On DBS Checks?
DBS checks are an increasingly common way for employers to run background checks on employees and candidates to make sure they are suitable for the role in question.
If you are applying for a job that requires a DBS check and you have a caution on your criminal record, you may be wondering whether they show up on the DBS certificate.
This article will help you to understand when cautions are revealed on a DBS check and when they aren’t.
What are DBS Checks?
Before we go into the ins and outs of cautions showing up on DBS checks, it’s worth defining what they actually are and what they do.
The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is an independent body that runs criminal record checks on individuals to help employers and organisations make informed choices about who they employ for certain roles.
The important thing to realise about DBS checks is that they are not a pass or fail test. The DBS check simply reveals certain things about your criminal record, depending on the level of check requested. These details are then printed on a DBS certificate that is presented to employers to help them decide whether to employ you or not.
In other words, when employers receive a copy of your DBS certificate, if there are criminal convictions or cautions revealed on there, it helps them to make a decision, but doesn’t necessarily stop you from being considered for the job.
What shows up on a DBS check?
The types of conviction that show up on a DBS check depend on the level of the check. There are 3 levels of DBS check – Basic, Standard, and Enhanced. Here is a brief description of what is revealed on each level of check:
- Basic DBS Check – Unspent convictions and conditional cautions only
- Standard DBS Check – Spent and unspent conviction, cautions, reprimands, and warnings (apart from convictions that are subject to filtering).
- Enhanced DBS Check – The same type of convictions as the standard check, but also any extra notes or information that are relevant to the job position.
In addition to the Enhanced DBS Check, if the role is considered to be a regulated activity, then a barred list check should be carried out too. There are two barred lists, one for individuals that are banned from working with children and one for people that are banned from working with vulnerable adults.
When are cautions filtered from a DBS check?
Since 2013, the UK government has included a filtering system that allows some convictions and cautions to remain on a criminal record (which is stored on the Police National Computer or PNC), but avoid showing up on a DBS check.
This doesn’t stop employers from asking about convictions and cautions on a job application, but they are not allowed to take them into account if they are filtered.
If you want to know whether a certain type of caution or conviction is eligible for filtering, you can check this government website page where they publish a list of offences that are always going to be disclosed on the higher two levels of DBS check, i.e. the standard or enhanced certificates, apart from offences that are considered to be youth cautions.
The list published of offences that are not allowed to be filtered are referred to as “specified offences” and include crimes that are too serious to be ignored, such as sexual or violent crimes. The government wants these to always be revealed as it is important for the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults.
Any conviction that ends up in a prison sentence will always show up on a DBS check, even if it is a suspended sentence.
What is meant by a “spent” conviction
Under the rules of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, a spent conviction is one that has seen a specified amount of time go by since the sentence was handed out. When the conviction is spent it will not be revealed on a Basic DBS Check anymore.
It is important to note that Northern Ireland and Scotland have different rules as to what is considered to be a spent conviction. Make sure you check these out with the relevant governing bodies in those countries if you’re unsure and it is relevant.
Do allegations and pending cases show up?
Arrests, allegations, and pending cases are not revealed on a Basic or Standard DBS Check, but they may show up on an Enhanced DBS Certificate if the police think they are relevant to the job role.
The police must follow certain guidelines when they are revealing allegations for an Enhanced DBS Check which are mentioned on this government web page.
Updates to how convictions and cautions are filtered
On 28th Nov 2020, the government issued new guidance regarding the filtering of offences on DBS checks. The changes apply to the Standard and Enhanced DBS Checks. The main change was the fact that multiple convictions are now considered separately, whereas previously they were all disclosed at once. In other words the filtering rule is applied to each individual conviction.
This means that employers and recruitment agencies had to change their policies and procedures following this changed guidance related to Standard and Enhanced DBS Checks.
Guidance for employers and employees regarding to DBS checks
It is important that employers follow the government’s guidance. If in doubt, make sure you check the government website. In general, when it comes to asking applicants to disclose convictions and cautions, employers need to comply with the law. Employees are obliged to disclose all convictions, including filtered ones, when asked to do so.
Employers, agencies, other organisations, employees, and job applicants can find more details on the legal issues surrounding DBS checks and disclosure by checking out this: Guidance on the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
How long does it take for convictions and cautions to be filtered?
Convictions for general criminal offences are considered for filtering after the following time periods:
- 5.5 years for crimes committed by minors (under 18)
- 11 years for crimes committed by adults (aged 18 or over)
For cautions, offences committed by a person who was aged or older are considered for filtering after 6 years. Youth cautions are filtered from DBS checks from the beginning.
Here are a few examples of offences that may be filtered after these time periods have elapsed:
- Theft without violence
- Common assault
- Some motoring offences
- Minor drug offences (e.g. possession of class B or C substances)
Here are a few examples of offences that may NOT be filtered at all, regardless of time elapsed:
- Sexual offences
- Serious violent crime
- Safeguarding offences
- Serious drug offences such as supplying
For a complete list of offences that will never be eligible for filtering, see this page.
Are there any jobs where filtering doesn’t apply?
Yes, there are certain jobs that are exempt from DBS filtering, which means that all convictions and cautions will show up on a DBS check. These include jobs that are involved with national security or policing, for instance.
For jobs that are highly sensitive or involve national security, then the organisation involved will probably access the Police National Computer (PNC) directly rather than requesting a check through the DBS.
Cautions that are unfiltered show up on Standard and Enhanced DBS Checks, but only conditional cautions show up on Basic DBS Checks.
To find out whether a specific conviction or caution is filtered after the times mentioned above, you should check the list on the government website as some types of crime will never be eligible for filtering.
If you have any questions about any of the issues discussed in this article, then you contact us for more information.
We offer an online DBS check service that will help you get the type of check you need and helps you to submit an error-free application which can save you time and money. Try it today.