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Frequently Asked Questions

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General Questions

What is a DBS Check?

DBS Checks are background checks carried out on individuals that detail all or some of their criminal history. DBS stands for “Disclosure and Barring Service”, and this check replaced the “Criminal Records Bureau” check (CRB) as of December 2012. A DBS Check, also known as a Disclosure, will identify any convictions, cautions, final warnings or reprimands, relevant to the prospective employment and can also include intelligence from the police that may affect an individual’s suitability for certain employment.

Who needs a DBS Check?

Any unsupervised volunteers or employees who, on a frequent and intensive basis, have direct access to, work, or volunteer with children and/or vulnerable adults, will require a Disclosure and Barring Service Check.

What are the different types of Criminal Records Checks?

What is a Standard DBS Check?

Standard DBS Checks will show any unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings, as well as any spent convictions or cautions that were not removed by filtering. These checks are suitable for eligible roles within industries such as finance or security, where there’s no regular contact with children or vulnerable adults. There are also occasions where a Standard level will be applicable in certain establishments such as administration roles within hospitals.

What are the DBS Barred Lists?

These are lists maintained by the DBS of individuals who are barred from working with either children or vulnerable adults, or both. Individuals working in regulated activity with either of these vulnerable groups will require a check against the relevant barred list.

How much do DBS Checks cost?

Our current costs for the various types of check are detailed below

  • Basic Disclosure – £33.70
  • Standard DBS Check – £33.70
  • Enhanced DBS Check – £53.70

How long do Checks usually take?

We complete DBS Checks within 48 hours on average. However, while the majority of DBS online checks are complete within this timeframe, some may take longer depending on how long the DBS and police take to process the application.

What's the best way to contact the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)?

You can e-mail the DBS at customerservices@dbs.gov.uk, or contact them by phone on 03000 200 190.

What happened to CRB Checks?

A number of changes occurred following the publication of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. These included the merging of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), creating a new organisation called the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). Apart from the discontinued ISA Registration Scheme, the DBS now provides all the services previously offered by the CRB and ISA.

Who can request a DBS Check?

Anyone over the age of 16 can request a Basic DBS Check. Only employers can request Standard or Enhanced DBS Checks on behalf of their employees or volunteers, providing the individual meets the relevant eligibility criteria.

What is a Basic Disclosure?

A Basic Disclosure is a background check that will show all unspent convictions. It can be requested by an individual, or by a potential employer with the applicant’s permission. If you are an individual living or working in England & Wales and you wish to apply for a Basic DBS Check for yourself, you can find out more information about Basic Checks and how to obtain them – here.

If you’re an employer seeking to perform Basic DBS Checks on your employees please visit our employer Basic Checks page for more information and to sign up to our simple Platform.

What is an Enhanced DBS Check?

An Enhanced DBS Check will show any unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings, as well as any spent convictions or cautions that were not removed in line with filtering guidance. Eligible applicants who are working or volunteering with young people, children and/or vulnerable adults will require an Enhanced DBS Check. If it’s considered relevant to recruitment decisions, these checks may also include intelligence from the police.

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What is filtering?

The filtering process is used by the DBS to determine whether certain information on convictions and cautions is protected under current legislation, and should be removed from an individual’s DBS Certificate before it’s printed. An employer can only ask an individual to provide details of convictions and cautions that they are legally entitled to know about, and these can be taken into account when making recruitment decisions. Standard and Enhanced DBS Certificates will include details of convictions and cautions (which include youth cautions, reprimands and warnings) recorded on the PNC (Police National Computer). PNC information relating to protected cautions and convictions will be filtered and will not appear on the certificate.

Who pays for DBS Checks?

There is no general rule here. On occasions the applicant will pay for the check whilst in other cases the Organisation that is requesting the check will pay.

How long do DBS Checks last?

The information provided during a DBS Check is accurate at the time the check is carried out, and whilst DBS certificates don’t officially expire, employers need to decide if the amount of time that has elapsed since the check was carried out means a new one is required. There may be a requirement for re-checking as determined by a governing body or professional organisation.

What’s the best way to contact Disclosure Scotland (DS)?

Disclosure Scotland can be e-mailed at info@disclosurescotland.co.uk, or contacted by phone on 0300 020 0040.

Employer Questions

Can we request DBS Checks?

Should they have eligible applicants, an employer or potential employer or organisation can request DBS Checks. The role the applicant is performing will dictate the level of check, and in all cases the applicant will need to give their consent to a check being carried out.

Before an organisation or employer considers asking a person to apply for a DBS Check, they are legally responsible for ensuring that they are entitled to submit an application for the job role in question. As an employer, you are legally obliged to make sure anyone in your organisation working in a regulated activity with children and vulnerable adults is not barred from doing so. For certain licenced professions, there is also a requirement upon entry into specific qualifications and roles to obtain a DBS Check through different regulatory bodies. Most commonly this is seen with Lawyers and Chartered Accountants.

Can an individual start work before they receive their DBS certificate?

If an individual is going to be working or volunteering in an unsupervised role with, children and vulnerable adults, to avoid any legal liability, you should check their DBS certificate before they start work. However, employers providing care services for adults, in a care home for example, can make use of a service called DBS Adult First. The DBS Adult First Check can be requested, at an additional cost, at the time of applying or retrospectively once the application is processing. This check can only be completed if the applicant is in a regulated activity with vulnerable adults. Within a couple of days, this check will indicate whether an applicant can start work in a supervised position (no match found), whether the potential employer should wait for the results of an Enhanced Check (please wait) or the certificate has already been printed. If a ‘please wait’ result comes through, it does not mean that the applicant is definitely on the Adults’ Barred List, this simply means that the check has proved inconclusive and that employers should exercise caution by waiting for the full Disclosure Certificate. DBS Adult First Checks should be used only in exceptional circumstances and when absolutely necessary.

Which applicants do we need to check?

Organisations can be held legally liable for any safeguarding issues where adequate checks haven’t been carried out. For this reason, DBS Checks should be carried out, where eligible, on all volunteers and employees that work, on a frequent basis, with children and vulnerable adults. There are specific types of establishments listed in legislation, that allow for a DBS Check to be requested due to the employee working on that site frequently. Most commonly, any staff member working in a Care Home at least once a week on an ongoing basis or 4 or more times in a 30 day period, can be checked at an Enhanced level. It is therefore important to understand whether an employee is undertaking a direct activity with the service users or, are they working for or on behalf of a specified establishment; both of which could entitle them to a DBS Check.

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Can an applicant fail a DBS Check?

DBS Checks produce a certificate that details any information about an individual’s criminal record and if they have one relevant to the position they are applying for. If the certificate shows information on any convictions, cautions, warnings or reprimands, this does not mean that the individual has ‘failed’ the DBS Check. Employers must, by law, consider whether the offences committed, and the length of time since they were committed, are relevant to the role the individual has applied for or is working in. The only exception to this is if a check of a barred list has found that the individual is barred from working with a vulnerable group. In this case, their employer cannot legally employ them to work in regulated activity with that vulnerable group.