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.
Our blog explains which cautions appear on a DBS Check, how long a caution lasts for, and how the filtering system works.
What do DBS Checks show?
There are three different levels of DBS Check:
The amount of information revealed depends on the level of check. Here’s what each level of DBS Check will show:
Basic DBS Checks, or Basic Disclosures, will show any unspent convictions or conditional cautions the applicant has.
Standard DBS Checks show details of convictions and cautions (excluding youth cautions, reprimands and warnings) held on police records that are not subject to filtering (more about this below).
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 DBS Checks can also disclose whether an individual is included on either of the lists which bar them from working with children or vulnerable adults, if the role is eligible and the employer requests this information.
So, what stops a DBS Check showing cautions?
The DBS filtering system
In May 2013 the government introduced a filtering system, meaning that not all cautions and convictions are automatically 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.
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 filtered convictions and cautions that they are not entitled to ask about into account when making a decision about a job applicant, under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
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 offences will always be shown on a DBS certificate?
The government provides a list of offences that will always be disclosed on a Standard or Enhanced DBS certificate (unless they relate to a youth caution).
These are known as ‘specified offences’ and are usually of a serious violent or sexual nature, or are relevant for safeguarding children and vulnerable adults.
All convictions resulting in a custodial sentence, whether or not suspended, will also always be disclosed.
Update to the DBS filtering guidance in 2020
The filtering guidance was updated on 28 November 2020 as follows:
- Warnings, reprimands and youth cautions will no longer be automatically disclosed on either a Standard or Enhanced DBS certificate
- The multiple conviction rule has been removed, meaning that if an individual has more than one conviction, regardless of offence type or time passed, each conviction will be considered against the remaining filtering rules individually. Previously, if you had more than one conviction, they would all be automatically disclosed
The new rules apply to Standard and Enhanced DBS certificates processed on or after 28 November 2020.
Employers may want to consider adjusting their recruitment procedures to reflect the changes in filtering rules for Standard and Enhanced DBS Checks.
Job application forms relating to positions that are eligible for a Standard or Enhanced DBS Check will need to reflect the new rules so that:
- Employers ask the right questions
- Employees give the right (legally accurate) answer
There is more guidance on this, including some template questions, in the DBS filtering guide.
You can also find additional information in the Guidance on the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and the Exceptions Order 1975.
This explains the difference between spent and unspent convictions and outlines which convictions must be declared when applying for jobs, as well as any exceptions.
Which convictions and cautions will be filtered from a DBS certificate?
Cautions for non-specified offences given to those aged 18 or over will be eligible for filtering after six years.
Convictions for non-specified offences will be eligible for filtering after 5.5 years for under 18s and 11 years for those aged 18 and over.
As with convictions, 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.
Some examples of offences eligible for filtering include:
- Common assault
- Minor drugs offences only involving possession
- Many motoring offences
- Theft, if no violence is involved
Examples of offences NOT eligible for filtering (also known as specified offences) include:
- Safeguarding offences
- Sexual offences
- Certain offences involving violence
- Drugs offences involving supply
Do DBS Checks show cautions? A summary
So, do DBS Checks show cautions?
We’ve explained that 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.
If you’re an employer looking for a DBS online application, you can use our intuitive DBS platform.Back to Blogs
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.