3. Arranging checks as an employer

The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) have merged into the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). CRB checks are now called DBS checks.

Employers should only arrange a DBS check on a successful job applicant. They can withdraw a job offer if the results show anything that would make the applicant unsuitable.

Fewer than 100 checks a year - use an umbrella body

Employers in this category can’t register directly with DBS but can use an umbrella body.

More than 100 checks a year - register with DBS

This type of employer can deal with their own applications by registering with DBS. This costs £300, plus £5 for each additional ‘countersignatory’ (people within an organisation who are allowed to handle DBS applications).

Employers 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. Employers need to ask the applicant to see the certificate.

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

Employers 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 - eg 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

Employers in Scotland can get a criminal records check from Disclosure Scotland, while employers in Northern Ireland should go through Access NI.

Overseas applicants and UK applicants who lived abroad

Employers 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 for employers 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

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

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

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