DBS checks (previously CRB checks)

3. Arranging checks as an employer

Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks are now called Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks.

As an employer, you should only arrange a DBS check on a successful job applicant. You can withdraw a job offer if the results show anything that would make the applicant unsuitable.

Employers need to check the identity of a job applicant as part of a DBS check. Read the guidance on how to do ID checks and what to do about false documents.

Fewer than 100 checks a year - use an umbrella body

You can’t register directly with DBS. Instead, use an umbrella body.

More than 100 checks a year - register with DBS

  1. Read the guidance on registering with DBS.

  2. Contact DBS to register.

Registration costs £300, plus £5 for each additional ‘countersignatory’ (people in your organisation who are allowed to handle DBS applications).

You can then track multiple applications and order blank application forms online.

To change any of the registration details, send a letter on company letter headed paper to DBS. Include the registration number and each countersignatory’s signature.

Registered organisations must also follow the DBS code of practice.

DBS no longer automatically sends a copy of the certificate to a registered organisation. You need to ask the applicant to see the certificate.

More than 1,500 checks a year - use the bulk service

You can use the DBS e-bulk service, which may help reduce costs and waiting times for DBS checks.

Find out how to register for e-bulk services and get a list of approved e-brokers (offering their e-bulk platform for use by other registered bodies).

Checks on carers

Employers providing care services for adults (for example in a care home) can use a service called DBS Adult First.

This will confirm, usually within 2 days, if the applicant:

  • can start work, as long as they’re supervised
  • should wait for the results of an enhanced check

The service costs an extra £6.

Employers in Scotland or Northern Ireland

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

Overseas applicants and UK applicants who lived abroad

You can ask applicants from overseas to get a criminal records check, or ‘Certificate of Good Character’, from their country of origin.

It may also be possible to get such a check through the relevant embassy in the UK but the applicant must give their permission.

Processes for getting criminal records checks abroad vary between countries.

Employing ex-offenders

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

Download a sample policy on the recruitment of ex-offenders.