DBS criminal record checks

What is a criminal record check?

A criminal record check is a record of a person’s criminal history.  In the majority of cases, a check will include all criminal offences including cautions, convictions, reprimands and final warnings.  It may also include traffic offences such as speeding and drink-driving.

DBS Application process

Security features of a DBS certificate

The importance of a criminal record check

Criminal records checks help employers ensure that unsuitable people are prevented from working with those who are considered vulnerable because of certain circumstances e.g. in receipt of social care.

Employers must carefully consider any criminal history data alongside other information obtained as part of a wider recruitment process to ensure a fair and effective safer recruitment practice.

The role of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

The primary role of the DBS is to help employers make safer recruitment decisions by checking information that may be held on an applicant on the Police National Computer (PNC). 

In addition, caseworkers process referrals about individuals who have harmed or pose a risk of harm to vulnerable groups with a view to placing them on the adults and/or children’s barred lists.

When to request a DBS Check

  1. Where an applicant has never had a DBS check before for BCC and the position they are applying for is eligible for a check (unless an applicant is a member of the DBS Update Service where a new DBS Check may not be required).
  2. Where an applicant is an existing member of staff who has had a DBS check for their original role and they are moving into a new role which requires a different type of check and/or barred list clearances
  3. Where concerns have been raised about an employee’s behaviour, conduct or practice (for example, because of criminal activity, actual harm or risk of harm to patients) which would trigger the need for a new check – see information on high risk roles on intranet. - High Risk’ roles would usually be expected to include jobs such as:
    • Foster Carer/Adopter
    • Social Worker
    • Social Work Assistant (check current wording of job title)
    • Senior Child and Family Worker (as above)
    • Home Carer (as above)
    • Educational Psychologist
  4. Where staff members become employed by BC following a TUPE transfer into, or back into BC, then new DBS Checks must always be obtained (where a DBS Check is required for a job role).

Key considerations for employers

  • It is unlawful to carry out a standard or enhanced DBS check for a role which is not ‘exempt’ from the ROA or included in the Police Act Regulations, where applicable, and therefore not eligible for a DBS check.
  • It is unlawful to require an applicant to disclose a ‘protected’ conviction, caution, reprimand or final warning, which would be filtered off a DBS check.
  • It is unlawful to require an applicant or existing employee to carry out an ‘enforced subject access request, i.e. provide a copy of their full criminal record directly from the police, prison, probation service or courts.
  • Applicants are not legally required to disclose fixed penalty notices (FPNs), penalty notices for disorder (PNDs) or other disposals that are not convictions, cautions, reprimands or final warning.
  • Applicants are not legally required to disclose allegations, arrests or not guilty verdicts.

Types of DBS Checks

There are four different types of DBS check and each type of check provides a different level of information.  

Guidance on the DBS types and when they should be used

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