A guide to DBS checks: everything you need to know

A very helpful guest post from uCheck. As a high percentage of crimes, particularly cybercrimes, are committed, or assisted, by employees and contract staff, vetting personnel has never been more important….  brn Ed.

You’re in the middle of the recruitment process and you need a DBS check. Now what?

Let’s start with what a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check is.



Previously called a CRB check, a DBS check looks at a person’s criminal record and, in certain circumstances, barred list information.

This information is important to employers because it helps ensure they make recruitment decisions safely and appropriately.

There are three types of DBS check to consider.

Basic check

This is the lowest level of the three checks and therefore the least intense.

There are no eligibility requirements for this check so anyone can apply, which makes it useful for those who are self-employed.

A basic check is perfect for freelancers or consultants who think it will give them more credibility in the eyes of potential clients.

The basic check shows unspent convictions – convictions that have to be disclosed when asked about by an employer.

Changes to the basic check

Make sure you are aware of the changes to the basic check that took place earlier this year.

Previously, all DBS checks were processed and issued by Disclosure Scotland but in January 2018, the Disclosure and Barring Service took over DBS checks for those working in Wales and England.

This change took place to help eliminate discrepancies between agencies, governments and policies between Scotland and the UK.

It’s important to remember that the area in which you are working determines where you apply for your DBS check.

If you are working in Scotland, apply for your check at Disclosure Scotland. If you are working in England or Wales, apply for your check through the Disclosure and Barring Service.

If you are applying through a company that carries out DBS checks on your behalf, they will submit it to the appropriate facility.

Standard check

The second type of check is a standard check, which is more intense than the basic.

It shows unspent convictions – the same as the basic. However, it also shows spent convictions which do not need to be disclosed to an employer when asked.

This includes warnings, reprimands and cautions if they are not filtered.

Filtering is the process of finding cautions and convictions which are protected from disclosure and removing them so they don’t appear when a check is carried out.

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 allows offences that are not listed in the Act to be forgiven after a rehabilitation period.

However, it is important to note that convictions and cautions related to crimes like serious violent and sexual offences are included as listed offences under the Act. As a result they will not be protected or filtered.

Unlike basic checks, standard checks must be carried out by employers on behalf of the candidate they are looking into.

The standard check has eligibility requirements that a candidate must meet. In order to be eligible for this check, the position or role you are applying for has to be listed in the Act.

Some of the more common professions listed in the Act include those in healthcare and finance, such as chartered and certified accountants.

Enhanced check

The third and final check is the most intense.

As with the standard check, employers have to apply for the enhanced DBS check on behalf of their candidates.

This check shows everything that would be included in the standard DBS check as well as information the applicant’s local police find relevant or important to share.

If you are a teacher, carer, social worker, or work regularly with children or vulnerable adults, you are eligible for an enhanced DBS check.

Because of this, the enhanced check may also look at the children’s and/or adults’ barred list which will show if a prospective employee is prohibited from working with children or vulnerable adults.

In summary

DBS checks can help employers look at a potential employee’s history to provide valuable information when making recruitment decisions.

However there are key differences which will determine which – if any – check will be relevant for your organisation.

Use this as a guide to help familiarise yourself with the three types of DBS check, to find out which one you can apply for, and learn about changes that may affect you and your employment.

If you would like to find out more information about background checks and the vetting process, visit the uCheck site.