What is a DBS Check?
20th January 2017
An essential for certain jobs, the DBS Check is a responsibility that cannot be ignored.
If you work in HR, making sure that these checks are valid and up to date may be a significant part of your job.
If you are applying for a job, you might be asked to provide a DBS check or to give your permission for one to be carried out. The check should only be carried out if your job application is successful.
DBS checks are also very important in many voluntary roles.
DBS checks explained
The DBS check used to be known as the CRB check. This could be the name that you’re more familiar with.
CRB stood for Criminal Records Bureau. DBS stands for Disclosure and Barring Service.
DBS checks are particularly important where vulnerable people are concerned. They detail all of an individual’s unspent criminal convictions, and may also mention some spent convictions.
The DBS check can be used to determine if someone poses a risk to children, the disabled, the elderly or any other vulnerable groups.
Requesting a DBS check
It is easy to find out if you can request a DBS check.
It’s also easy to run through the process, with the help of the GOV.UK website.
Start by using the online checking tool, which tells you if you are entitled to request a DBS check for the job or role that you’re recruiting for.
If you are applying for a job and a DBS check has been requested, you can also use this tool to check that the request is a valid one. But, you cannot apply for your own Standard or Enhanced Disclosure.
Registering with the DBS
Any company or organisation that carries out more than 100 checks per year can register with the DBS. This costs £300.
Umbrella bodies are available for organisations that carry out fewer than 100 checks per year. You can use the GOV.UK website to find an umbrella body.
Applying for a Standard or Enhanced Disclosure
Standard and Enhanced Disclosures are only available for certain jobs and roles. The online checking tool will tell you if one of these DBS checks is suitable.
Only employers and licensing bodies can apply for these DBS checks, which list all unspent criminal convictions along with some relevant spent criminal convictions, as found on the Always Disclose List. These are serious convictions that might suggest a permanent threat.
There are also other spent convictions that might be listed on a Standard or Enhanced Disclosure. These are less serious, but still very important, and can be included on DBS checks for up to 15 years.
In addition, Standard and Enhanced Disclosures will include unspent cautions.
The Enhanced Disclosure is the most detailed document available. It will mention if someone is not allowed to work with children or with vulnerable adults, and may also contain other details deemed relevant by the police.
The application process protects the privacy of the employee until the very last step, though it is worth noting that any employee that refuses to show their DBS check is likely to appear to be guilty:
- Employers must request an application form for a DBS check.
- The employee will then fill in their details and provide any supporting documents such as their original passport, driving license and birth certificate.
- The employer sends off the form, along with proof of the employee’s identity.
- The DBS check is sent to the employee, rather than the employer.
- The employer will request for the employee to show them the DBS check.
- A Standard Disclosure costs £26. An Enhanced Disclosure costs £44. Eligible volunteers do not pay,
Applying for a Basic Disclosure
If a DBS check is not a requirement, and if an employer does not have a right to request one, then they might instead choose to ask for a Basic Disclosure.
There are no rules surrounding a Basic Disclosure. Anyone can apply for their Basic Disclosure, in exchange for a £25 payment.
This document contains information about all unspent criminal convictions associated with the named individual, and can be requested by any employer.
Usually, a Basic Disclosure will be delivered within a month of the application date.
DBS UK rules
The impact of a DBS checking
A DBS check will not necessarily make or break someone’s employment prospects.
Employers must use the information contained within the check to make a responsible decision.
Any employer that requests DBS checks must have a policy on the recruitment of ex-offenders.
Ex-offenders must be treated fairly. Employers cannot automatically discriminate against anyone with a DBS check that is not completely clear.
Minor cautions will be listed on the DBS check, but cannot be taken into account by the employer.
There are two ‘barred lists’ – one for children and one for adults. If someone is on a barred list, they cannot do certain types of work.
The validity of DBS checks
Each check is just a snapshot. It shows someone’s criminal convictions only at one specific moment.
This means that it will not necessarily be valid the very next day.
Employers need to decide upon the frequency of DBS check updates. It is their responsibility to protect vulnerable individuals.
The DBS Update service is an optional extra. It costs £13 per year for employees, and is free for volunteers. Employees can update their certificates, and employers can check certificates online with the employee’s permission.
It is important to remember that a clear DBS check should never provide complete confidence in any individual. It can never predict what will happen in the future, and so it is always important for employers to remain very vigilant.