The Complete Guide To DBS Checks
It is becoming increasingly common for employers to request that potential recruits undergo background checks and vetting before starting in a role. Background checks help employers avoid the costly mistake of hiring somebody who is unsuited to the job, or even worse, could prove to be a liability.
One of the first checks that many employers carry out is a DBS check. DBS stands for Disclosure and Barring Service, although if you’re old enough, you may remember it under the old name of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB).
A DBS check involves searching through an individual’s criminal record and highlighting details of any convictions or relevant offences.
What Is The Purpose Of A DBS Check?
The primary function of a DBS check is to assist employers with recruitment decisions. It is usually used for roles where there is some degree of responsibility or the check is needed for safeguarding reasons.
The DBS check helps businesses and organisations to protect their own interests, whilst also protecting the wellbeing of clients, colleagues, and/or members of the public.
Which Countries and Regions Are Covered By DBS Checks?
The DBS check applies only to England and Wales. The reason for this is that both Scotland and Northern Ireland use different criminal record checking systems, known as Disclosure Scotland and AccessNI.
What Is A DBS Check?
There are three main levels of DBS check, with each one searching and returning different categories of convictions and offences.
Basic DBS Check
The Basic DBS Check is suitable for any job role or position. The check involves doing a basic search through an individual’s criminal record on the police national computer database, for unspent convictions only.
“Unspent” means that the conviction has not yet become “spent”. In other words, sufficient time has not yet passed since the conviction date for the criminal to be considered rehabilitated. Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974
A Basic DBS Check application can be submitted by either the individual themselves or an employer.
Standard DBS Check
A Standard DBS Check takes a deeper search through an individual’s criminal record than a basic check. Both spent and unspent convictions are highlighted, as well as warnings, reprimands, and cautions.
A Standard DBS Check application cannot be submitted by the individual, instead it needs to be submitted by an employer or registered third party.
The Standard DBS Check is typically used for jobs and roles that require a moderate to high level of responsibility or authority, but do not involve direct unsupervised contact with vulnerable adults or children.
Examples of jobs that may require a Standard DBS Check are chartered accountants, financial advisers, lawyers, healthcare workers, dental nurses, building contractors for regulated sites, bus drivers, airport staff, locksmiths, bank cashiers, etc.
Enhanced DBS Check
The Enhanced DBS Check is the highest level of criminal background check available in the UK. It reveals details of spent and unspent convictions, warnings, cautions, reprimands, and any other information that is kept on police file that may be relevant to the role or job position.
The Enhanced DBS Check is a requirement for any “regulated activity”, which is any role that involves direct, unsupervised contact with children or vulnerable adults.
Job roles that require an Enhanced DBS Check include the following; teachers, sports coaches, care workers, social workers, elderly carers, doctors, nurses, dentists, youth workers, etc.
Barred List Check
As well as the searches listed above, if the role is deemed to be a “regulated activity” by the DBS, then a barred list check will also need to be done. The barred list is a database kept by the DBS that contains the names of people that are banned from working with children or vulnerable adults.
Anybody whose name shows up on a barred list will definitely be prevented from working with vulnerable groups and this will not change.
Other Types of DBS Check
Adult First Check
The adult first check applies to individuals whose names are not present on the barred list. The individual may begin working with children or vulnerable adults before the enhanced DBS certificate comes through, but they must be supervised by a person in possession of one.
It’s important to note that an employer isn’t allowed to request a barred list or DBS check on any person they choose, for any role. The job role or position must, by law:
- Require a criminal background check
- Must be for a role classed as a “regulated activity”
- Must be for a role that requires an Enhanced DBS Check or barred list check.
The employer or organisation must request that a barred list check is undertaken by selecting the relevant option on the DBS application form.
Self-employed DBS Checks
It’s not unusual for a self-employed person, especially a tradesperson, to be contracted for a job in an environment that requires a DBS Check. This isn’t a problem if only a Basic DBS Check is needed, as the self-employed person can apply for this themselves.
But, if the job requires a Standard or Enhanced DBS Check, it’s a different story. The individual needs to contact the business or organisation and ask them to submit the application on their behalf, or use a registered third party DBS check provider.
All applications can be done online these days, but Standard and Enhanced DBS Checks need to be verified before being submitted.
Volunteer DBS Checks
To make it easier for volunteers to get a DBS certificate and the charities and organisations that rely on voluntary workers, there is a volunteer DBS check option that is free or subsidised.
There are certain criteria that need to be met to qualify for a volunteer DBS check. The volunteer must NOT:
- Benefit financially from the role
- Receive any financial remuneration or items of value in return for services rendered (except for out-of-pocket expenses that have been approved)
- Be on a work placement or internship
- Be taking the position as part of a training course
- Be an apprentice or in a trainee role that leads to permanent, paid employment.
DBS Checks & Transgender People
People that are transgender or identify as non-binary or genderfluid are able to request a confidential DBS check if they do not wish to reveal the details of their identity history to prospective employers. In order to apply for a confidential DBS check, applicants can email email@example.com.
Do DBS Checks Expire?
Technically, DBS checks expire as soon as they are issued, as the DBS certificate is just a snapshot of a person’s criminal record on the day of the search. Any offences that result in convictions after that date will not show up on the certificate. For this reason, most employers that require DBS checks will request that they are frequently updated, usually once every two or three years, depending on the role.
Looking for A Convenient Way To Apply for DBS Checks?
Here at dbschecks.org.uk, we believe in making the application process for DBS checks as easy as possible. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you with all your DBS check needs.