There are a lot of false claims doing the rounds about Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks. Luckily, we’ve put together a guide to help you unpick some of the most common DBS check myths…

There’s no passing or failing

Despite what some people say, you can’t pass or fail a DBS check. The check is part of a vetting process, and all it will do is show whether an individual has a criminal record, caution, warning or conviction.

If the check does show something, it might mean a prospective employer deems an applicant unsuitable for the role they’ve applied for.

The employer should always take into account the seriousness of the crime, when it took place and how relevant it is to the role before completely ruling a candidate out.

There’s no expiry date

One of the most common DBS check myths is that DBS checks expire. This isn’t true – they do not have an expiration date.

Instead, the onus is on organisations and companies to determine how frequently they run new checks on their staff.

If you’re an employer, it’s recommended you introduce a DBS check policy to your recruitment and HR policies.

It’s also important to remember that the check is only fully accurate on the date it’s issued. You may not receive information about any subsequent convictions, cautions or warnings which your staff members may become involved in.

A criminal record doesn’t always mean you don’t get the job

It all depends on what the offence was and when it happened. The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 stipulates that offenders must have a fair chance to apply for a role just like everybody else.

If, however, you were convicted for something to do with children and the role required you to work directly with children, it’s highly likely the employer would deem you unsuitable for the role.

There’s no legal requirement

Despite what you may have heard, there’s no legal requirement for anyone to have a DBS check. Many organisations require their staff to undergo DBS checks for best practice purposes.

However, employers are legally obliged to ensure, by way of a DBS check, that any employee working in a regulated activity with children or vulnerable adults has not been barred from doing so.

Definition of a regulated activity

Adults: Anyone providing personal care to an adult is in regulated activity, irrespective of whether that occurs in, say, a hospital, a care home, a day care centre, a prison or in sheltered housing.

Children: The new definition of regulated activity (i.e. work that a barred person must not do) in relation to children comprises, in summary:

i. unsupervised activities: teach, train, instruct, care for or supervise children, or provide advice/ guidance on well-being, or drive a vehicle only for children

ii. work for a limited range of establishments (‘specified places’), with opportunity for contact: e.g. schools, children’s homes, childcare premises. Not work by supervised volunteers.

Individuals can apply for a standard or enhanced check

Only employers, potential employers, voluntary organisations or umbrella bodies like uCheck can apply for standard or enhanced DBS checks.

Standard DBS check

A standard DBS check will reveal any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or final warnings the applicant may have.

Enhanced DBS check

An enhanced DBS check will reveal the same information as a standard check, as well as any relevant information held by local police.

Enhanced with barred lists check

Certain roles will be eligible for a check of the children’s and/or adults’ barred lists.

These lists are maintained by the DBS and detail individuals who have been barred from working with children and/or vulnerable adults.

To be eligible for a check of the barred lists, a role must be eligible for an enhanced check and involve working in a regulated activity with children and/or vulnerable adults.

DBS check myths – busted!

Hopefully this guide to DBS check myths will have given you a better understanding of the rules and regulations that surround the screening process.

If anything is still at all unclear, please do get in touch.