Check someone's criminal record as an employer

Checks you can make on someone's record

Employers can check the criminal record of someone applying for a role. This is known as getting a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

You can request a more detailed check for certain roles, for example in healthcare or childcare.

There are different rules for getting a criminal record check in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Types of check

You can request:

  • a basic check, which shows unspent convictions and conditional cautions
  • a standard check, which shows spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings
  • an enhanced check, which shows the same as a standard check plus any information held by local police that’s considered relevant to the role
  • an enhanced check with barred lists, which shows the same as an enhanced check plus whether the applicant is on the list of people barred from doing the role

If you carry out criminal records checks, you must have a policy on employing ex-offenders and show it to any applicant who asks for it.

Checking your own criminal record

You can only request a basic check for yourself.

If you’re self-employed, an organisation you’re working with can get a standard, enhanced or enhanced with barred lists check for you, where the role is eligible.

Childminders can get a check through Ofsted.

When to repeat a check

A DBS check has no official expiry date. Any information included will be accurate at the time the check was carried out. It’s up to you to decide when a new check is needed.

If the applicant has signed up for the DBS update service you can check whether their certificate is up to date online.

Certificates for previous roles

You can accept a certificate that was requested for a previous role but you must:

  • check the applicant’s identity matches the details on the certificate
  • check the certificate is the right level and type for the role applied for
  • check to see if anything has changed if the applicant is signed up for the update service

Checks on someone who lived abroad

DBS checks will not cover the time someone lived outside the UK.

Check the rules in the country they lived in.

Contact DBS

Contact DBS if you’re not sure whether you can request a check.

DBS customer services
customerservices@dbs.gov.uk
Telephone: 0300 0200 190
Welsh: 0300 0200 191
Minicom: 0300 0200 192
International: +44 151 676 9390
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm (9am to 5pm for appeals and disputes)
Saturday, 10am to 5pm
Find out about call charges

DBS customer services
PO Box 3961
Royal Wootton Bassett
SN4 4HF