The Ultimate Employer’s Guide To DBS Checks And Why They’re Important
Growing numbers of employers are requesting that job candidates and existing employees get a DBS check carried out.
The reason for this is because DBS checks are used to search through an individual’s criminal record and highlight past any previous convictions. Therefore, they can be used to check a person’s suitability for the job role or activity in question.
It makes sense that asking for a DBS check is a growing trend when you think about it. Employees that have recently committed crimes may present a risk or liability to the company or organisation. Employees that are not suitable for the role may perform badly, have a bad attitude, or be untrustworthy. All of these things can cost organisations money or cause reputational damage.
Also, there are many jobs that are required by law to get staff DBS checked.
This article is an in-depth guide into what DBS checks are, when they should be applied, how to apply for them, plus much more.
A Brief History of DBS Checks
Although they weren’t named DBS checks, background checks have been carried out for decades, probably more than a century, by employers.
Ever since employers became liable for their employees actions while working in the eyes of the law, employers have made it their business to check worker’s backgrounds. For many years, this was simply taking references from previous employers and character references from responsible people. In other words, it was mainly about checking people’s credentials, rather than whether they had a criminal record.
Fast forward to 2002, and the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) was set up to handle background checks into people’s criminal past. CRB checks were only usually used for jobs that involve working with children or vulnerable adults, such as teachers or care workers.
In 2012, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) took over when the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) merged with the CRB. DBS checks were designed to be a comprehensive solution, providing different levels of criminal record check. DBS checks are considered to be a highly reliable way of protecting and safeguarding vulnerable groups and helping companies to avoid financial or reputational losses, especially through theft and fraud.
How DBS Checks Support Safeguarding
Before CRB checks, and more recently, DBS checks, employers and organisations had no way of checking people’s criminal records. The police and judiciary were the only people that had access to that information.
This made protecting vulnerable groups more difficult, as employers would have to take an individual’s word for it or rely on references, when assessing whether someone was suitable to work with vulnerable people or in a responsible position.
With a DBS check, employers can check a person’s criminal background without violating their privacy. The DBS manages access to criminal records carefully, ensuring that only relevant people can see the sensitive information.
What Are The Different DBS Check Levels?
There are four different levels of DBS check. Here they are in order from the lowest level of check to the highest:
- Basic DBS Check – The lowest level of DBS check which only reveals any unspent convictions on an individual’s criminal record. Basic checks are not usually required by law for any reason, but are often requested by employers to verify the character of potential employees. A basic DBS check is the only level of check that can be carried out and submitted by the individual themselves and presented to potential employers. The higher levels need to be requested, checked, and submitted by the employer or a registered third party.
- Standard DBS Check – The standard DBS check searches through an individual’s criminal record for both spent and unspent convictions, cautions, warnings, and reprimands. Standard DBS checks are most commonly used to vet people for responsible roles where past criminal behaviour would be seen as a liability, such as working with finances, security services, etc.
- Enhanced DBS Check – The enhanced DBS check is similar to the standard DBS check and searches for exactly the same types of entry on an individual’s criminal record, but it also includes any relevant information and notes held by the police. Enhanced DBS checks are most commonly requested for jobs that involve working with children or vulnerable adults.
- Enhanced DBS Check with Barred List – This is the highest level of DBS check and is used for people that work directly and unsupervised with children or vulnerable adults. It involves checking the individual’s details against the DBS’s list of people that are barred from working with vulnerable groups as they present too much of a risk. The names on the barred list are usually people that have committed serious or multiple crimes against children or vulnerable people.
The Benefits of DBS Checks
There are numerous advantages of requesting employees get a DBS certificate. DBS checks help to mitigate the risk of criminal behaviour happening in the workplace. By highlighting past offences, employers can make an informed decision about whether to hire the candidate or not.
Therefore, the main advantages are potential economic value and reputation maintenance by not hiring unfit or dangerous people.
Disadvantages of DBS Checks
DBS checks are useful background checks. However, employers need to be careful not to make mistakes, especially when deciding what level of DBS check to apply. For instance, enhanced checks with barred list should only be applied to roles that are classed as DBS regulated activities. If an employer applies one without the proper justification, they can end up in trouble themselves – even potentially facing prosecution.
Employees and job candidates also need to be careful to be completely honest and accurate when filling out the DBS application form. An attempt to deliberately deceive is a prosecutable offence. When it comes to the serious subject of safeguarding, the penalties for subverting the process can be severe.
Find Out More About DBS Checks
We provide online DBS checks that are processed fast and easy to obtain. If you want to discuss anything related to DBS checks or safeguarding law, please feel free to get in touch today.