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DBS Checks And Cautions: Will They Appear On The Certificate?

Here at uCheck we’re often asked about DBS checks and cautions, and whether cautions will appear on a DBS certificate.

The simple answer is that it depends on the level of DBS check you’re requesting. The different levels of check determine the types of information that will be disclosed, so you should confirm which level of check you require to see if cautions will appear on the certificate.

DBS checks and cautions: enhanced and standard DBS certificates

Under the legislation in which DBS checks operate, the governing body will disclose any cautions an applicant has on both enhanced and standard disclosures, unless the caution has been filtered.

This means that if an applicant is working in a role such as carer and requires an enhanced DBS, or as an accountant and requires a standard DBS, then any cautions they may have will be disclosed on the certificate, unless the caution is subject to filtering.

DBS checks and cautions: what is filtering?

Filtering is the process whereby the DBS will automatically remove cautions and convictions that are eligible for filtering from an individual’s DBS certificate.

As of May 2013, the DBS adopted this filtering process in order to remove minor cautions and convictions which are no longer deemed necessary to disclose.

This move was introduced in response to a court case which challenged the disclosure of minor cautions and convictions, such as in cases where the offender was young and had had committed no offences since.

Filtering is an automated process, meaning that the applicant doesn’t need to take any action. All cautions and convictions will remain on the Police National Computer (PNC), but during the DBS vetting process, if a caution is eligible for filtering it will be automatically removed from the certificate.

How do I know if my caution has been filtered?

Although there is no definitive list of which cautions and convictions will be filtered, it’s possible to try and determine whether your caution will be filtered from your DBS certificate.

It’s important to note that only minor cautions and convictions will be filtered, and they’ll only be removed from the DBS after a certain period of time has elapsed.

If the individual has received more than one conviction, or the conviction resulted in a custodial sentence, then their convictions will never be filtered.

The time that needs to elapse before an offence is filtered is dependent on the age of the offender at the time of the offence. Here’s a simple guide:


  • If the offender was under 18 at the time of the offence, then it will be two years before the caution is filtered.
  • If the offender was 18 or over at the time of the offence, then it will be six years before the caution is filtered.


  • If the offender was under 18 at the time of the offence, then it will be five and a half years before the conviction is filtered.
  • If the offender was 18 or over at the time of the offence, then it will be eleven years before the conviction is filtered.

Basic criminal record checks

A basic criminal record check is not a DBS check, and as a result should only be requested if an applicant is not eligible for a DBS check but still requires or wishes to have a criminal record check.

As this is a lower level of check, it will only detail any unspent convictions (this means anything recent/serious). Consequently, this level of check will not disclose any cautions.

DBS checks and cautions: a summary

In summary, whether a caution will appear on a disclosure depends on the level of check which has been requested.

If a basic criminal record check has been requested, a caution will never appear. For standard and enhanced DBS certificates, cautions will appear unless they’ve been filtered in line with DBS filtering eligibility.

For more information on the DBS checks and cautions, or the filtering process, please visit Unlock, an independent charity helping those with criminal records.

Be sure to get in touch with us if you have any further questions. You can apply for a number of DBS Checks through our simple online platform – most checks are completed within 48 hours. Get started now.

Our blogs are advisory in nature and reflect uCheck Limited’s current thinking about best and common practice in the subjects discussed.

The information contained in our blogs have been provided for information purposes only. This information does not constitute legal, professional, or commercial advice. Whilst every care has been taken to ensure that the content is up to date, useful and accurate, uCheck gives no guarantees, undertakings, or warranties in this regard, or, for any loss or damage caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with reliance on the use of such information.

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