What Is A DBS Check?
If you’re reading this article, it’s probably because you’re applying for a job that requires a DBS check. Maybe you’re not sure what a DBS check is, or you’ve heard of them, but you’re not 100% clear on what happens or how they work.
In simple terms, a DBS check is a process used to search through an individual’s criminal record and highlight any offences.
If you’re looking for a job in the UK (or voluntary work that involves working with children or vulnerable adults), then there’s a good chance you’ll be asked for a DBS check, as more and more employers are using them to run background checks on potential employees.
Sometimes, the DBS check will form part of a larger process of background checking which may include references, psychological profiling, financial checks, etc.
This article will help you to understand what DBS checks actually are and whether you need one for the job roles you’re applying for.
A brief history of DBS checks
Before 2012, there were two bodies that dealt with background checks – the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) and the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB). If you wanted to take a job role that was safeguarding-critical, you would need to apply for a CRB check.
In 2012, to make things easier and more streamlined, the ISA merged with the CRB to create the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). The DBS is charged with searching through people’s criminal records and returning any relevant offences (depending on the level of DBS check carried out).
What is a DBS check?
In a nutshell, a DBS check is a process used by employers and organisations to get a clear picture of an individual’s criminal record.
DBS checks are typically used for roles that involve a moderate to high degree of responsibility. For instance, job roles such as school-teachers, nurses, doctors, care workers, or childminders are put into positions of trust with children or vulnerable adults. As such, they need to be vetted by their employers to make sure that there is nothing in their criminal record that could be a cause for concern.
Levels of DBS check
There are three levels of DBS check – basic, standard, and enhanced. The level required depends on the job specification and responsibilities of the role.
Basic DBS Check
A Basic DBS Check is a criminal record search that only returns details of unspent convictions on the DBS certificate. Spent convictions, warnings, cautions, and reprimands are all omitted from the DBS certificate.
The Basic DBS Check is typically used for lower responsibility roles that don’t involve working directly with children or vulnerable adults. In other words, it is used when a full DBS check is not appropriate. Sometimes Basic DBS Checks may be requested for certain types of licence and to secure work visas.
A Basic DBS Check can be requested by the individual themselves and doesn’t need any extra verification other than the provision of basic ID documents.
Standard DBS Check
In contrast to Basic DBS Checks, Standard DBS Checks cannot be requested by an individual. They need to be verified and submitted by an employer, agency, or other registered third party.
Standard DBS Checks are more thorough than basic checks as they reveal details about spent and unspent convictions, warnings, cautions, and reprimands.
The kind of roles that require a Standard DBS Check include mostly professional jobs such as lawyers, accountants, financial advisors, judiciary service employees, vets, etc.
Enhanced DBS Check
Enhanced DBS Checks are the highest level of criminal record check. They reveal the same details as Standard DBS Checks, as well as any relevant police notes stored on file. Enhanced checks can also request a barred list check which means that the DBS checks through a list of people that are permanently banned from working with vulnerable adults or children.
Any job role that is defined as a regulated activity by the DBS, i.e. involves direct contact with children or vulnerable adults, will require an Enhanced DBS Check, for instance school-teachers, child-minders, doctors, nurses, care workers, foster parents, etc.
How to get a DBS certificate
If you want to get a Basic DBS Certificate, you can apply for it yourself using our online portal. You don’t need to get it verified by anyone else, as long as you upload your ID documents.
For standard or enhanced checks you need to get the application form and ID documents checked by your employer, agency, or registered body.
The steps for getting a standard or enhanced check are as follows:
- Employer (or registered agency like us) provides the application form
- You complete the form and sign it
- Hand in or digitally submit the form, along with supporting ID documents
- The completed form is submitted to the DBS for processing
- The DBS carries out a criminal record search
- Relevant details are recorded on a DBS certificate
- The DBS certificate is posted out to you
- When you receive the certificate, you pass it on to your employer.
How long does a DBS check take?
If you submit an online application, you should get a result within 24 to 48 hours, but you won’t receive the certificate for roughly 2 to 8 weeks.
If you submit a postal application, it will take longer to get your results, usually the same time as you receive your certificate, i.e. 2 to 8 weeks. If there are mistakes on your form, missing information, or there is a backlog of applications to process at the DBS office, it can take longer than 8 weeks.
Do DBS certificates expire?
DBS certificates are only valid on the date that they are issued, so technically they never expire. A DBS certificate gives a snapshot of a person’s criminal record on the issue date. Therefore, most employers like their employees to update their DBS certificate periodically, typically once every two to three years.
What if the information on my DBS certificate is wrong?
If there are mistakes on your DBS certificate, or you feel that things have been misreported, you are free to appeal to the DBS, as long as you do so within three months of the issue date.
Discover more about DBS checks
To ask any questions about DBS checks or to find out how we can help you apply online, get in touch with one of our agents today.