Do DBS checks show cautions?

One of the questions we’re often asked here at uCheck is: do DBS checks show cautions?

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) exists to help employers make safer recruitment decisions.

DBS checks disclose information that helps employers determine whether an applicant is suitable for a particular role.

What do DBS checks show?

There are three different levels of DBS check: standard, Enhanced and Enhanced with barred lists check.

The amount of information revealed depends on the level of check.

Standard DBS checks show details of spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings held on police records.

Enhanced DBS checks show the same information as standard checks, plus any additional information held by local police considered relevant to the role in question.

Enhanced with barred lists checks show the same information as Enhanced checks, but also include a check of the DBS barred lists.

Do DBS checks show cautions? The filtering system

In May 2013, the government introduced a filtering system meaning that not all cautions and convictions are revealed by DBS checks.

The filtering process identifies and removes certain protected cautions and convictions so that they don’t show up on DBS disclosures.

Cautions and convictions eligible for filtering are removed from DBS disclosures at the time the application is made.

Filtered cautions and convictions are not wiped from police records – they simply don’t show up on DBS certificates.

In addition, employers are not allowed to take old or minor convictions and cautions into account when making a decision about a job applicant.

It’s important for job applicants to know which cautions and convictions will be filtered, as applicants aren’t legally obligated to reveal these to employers.

Which cautions and convictions are filtered?

Multiple cautions can be filtered, as long as the offences in question are eligible for filtering and the relevant period of time has elapsed for each one. Each caution is processed separately.

Only single convictions that didn’t result in a suspended or custodial sentence are eligible for filtering. Again, the offence in question must be eligible and the relevant period of time must have elapsed.

The filtering periods for cautions are two years for under 18s and six years for those aged 18 and over.

The filtering periods for convictions are 5.5 years for under 18s and 11 years for those aged 18 and over.

Some examples of offences eligible for filtering include:

• Drunk and disorderly
• Common assault
• Drugs offences only involving possession
• Many motoring offences
• Theft, if no violence is involved

Examples of offences NOT eligible for filtering include:

• Safeguarding offences
• Sexual offences
• Offences involving violence
• Drugs offences involving supply

These lists are not exhaustive. For a full list, check out the DBS’ list of offences that will never be filtered from a DBS check.

Do DBS checks show cautions? A summary

The DBS filtering system prevents certain cautions and convictions from appearing on DBS certificates.

Whether a caution or conviction is filtered will depend on the type and age of the offence.

Job applicants have no legal obligation to disclose to their employer any caution or conviction which would be filtered.

Refer to the government’s DBS filtering guide for more detailed information or get in contact should you have any questions about DBS checks.

If you’re an employer looking for a DBS online application, use our online Enhanced DBS checks service.

Updated 19th April 2018

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

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