1. Overview

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

A DBS check may be needed for:

  • certain jobs or voluntary work - eg working with children or in healthcare
  • applying to foster or adopt a child

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

Who can ask for a DBS check

An employer can ask for a DBS check for certain roles.

DBS eligibility guidance lists most roles that are eligible for a check. However, the guidance isn’t comprehensive so contact DBS if unsure.

Applicants (job candidates) can’t do a criminal records check on themselves, but they can request a ‘basic disclosure’.

How to get a DBS check

  1. The employer gets an application form from DBS or an umbrella body (a registered body that gives access to DBS checks).

  2. The employer gives the applicant the form to fill in and return to them along with documents proving their identity.

  3. The employer sends the completed application form to DBS or their umbrella body.

  4. DBS sends a certificate to the applicant. The employer will have to ask the applicant to see the certificate.

If the applicant has subscribed to the DBS update service, the employer can check their certificate online.

Basic disclosure

If applicants need to run a check on themselves, they can get a ‘basic disclosure’ with details of any unspent convictions from Disclosure Scotland (they can do this anywhere in the UK).

Types of criminal records check

There are 3 types of check. The employer or organisation running the check should provide the applicant with more information about the level of check required.

Criminal record check applicants must be 16 or over.

Standard (£26)

This will check for spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings, and will take about 2 weeks.

Enhanced (£44)

This includes the same as the standard check plus any additional information held by local police that’s reasonably considered relevant to the workforce being applied for (adult, child or ‘other’ workforce). It takes about 4 weeks.

‘Other’ workforce means those who don’t work with children or adults specifically, but potentially both, eg taxi drivers. In this case, the police will only release information that’s relevant to the post being applied for.

Enhanced with list checks (£44)

This is like the enhanced check, but includes a check of the DBS barred lists, and takes about 4 weeks.

An employer can only ask for a barred list check for specific roles. It’s a criminal offence to ask for a check for any other roles.

Eligible volunteers

Checks for eligible volunteers are free of charge. This includes anyone who spends time helping people and is:

  • not being paid (apart from for travel and other approved out of pocket expenses)
  • not only looking after a close relative

An employer must not apply for a check unless the job or role is eligible for one. They must tell the applicant why they’re being checked and where they can get independent advice.

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

Applicants and employers can use the DBS update service to keep a certificate up to date or carry out checks on a potential employee’s certificate.

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