DBS Checks FAQ’s
- What are DBS Checks?
- What is the DBS?
- What are DBS Registered Umbrella Bodies?
- Can anyone check a criminal record?
- How long does it take?
- Can I check the progress of a DBS application?
- What are DBS Checks used for?
- What is a Disclosure?
- What does the word “Disclosure” mean?
- What information will I be asked for?
- Who will receive my Disclosure?
- How confidential is the information provided?
- What if a Disclosure reveals a criminal record?
- Disclosure Information Chart – (Shows the criminal record information included)
- Spent / Unspent Convictions Chart (Shows how long information is held on record)
- How long is a Disclosure valid?
What are DBS Checks?
The term “DBS Checks” refers to Criminal Record Checks carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service via DBS registered umbrella bodies.
There are three levels of check:
- Basic DBS Check
- Standard DBS Check
- Enhanced DBS Check
What is the DBS?
The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is an executive agency of the Home Office and provides access to criminal record information through its checking service via registered umbrella bodies. The DBS helps employers make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups. It replaces the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).
The DBS is responsible for:
- processing requests for criminal records checks (DBS checks)
- deciding whether it is appropriate for a person to be placed on or removed from a barred list
- placing or removing people from the DBS children’s barred list and adults’ barred list for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
What are DBS Registered Umbrella Bodies?
DBS registered umbrella bodies are businesses registered with the DBS who process DBS disclosure applications on behalf of organisations who are not registered with the DBS themselves.
For example, APCS is one of the leading DBS registered umbrella bodies processing tens of thousands of applications each year for businesses, companies and agencies throughout the UK.
Can anyone check a criminal record?
Criminal record checks must only be requested with the knowledge and consent of the applicant (the subject of the check), and the type of check requested must be correct for the purpose for which it has been requested.
Employing organisations and agencies can only request a standard or enhanced check on a person if that’s person’s job role meets certain criteria.
Individuals wishing to apply for their own criminal record check are only able to apply for a basic check.
How long does it take?
Most basic and standard disclosures are completed within one week, although sometimes a particular check may take longer.
Most enhanced disclosures are completed within two weeks. Enhanced disclosures go through an additional police checkig stage. Where local police records contain additional information that might be relevant to the post the applicant is being considered for, the Chief Officer of Police may release information for inclusion in an Enhanced Disclosure. The time taken is dependent on the Chief Officer of Police in a given County (Police Area) to respond to the request for the additional information held on local police records.
Can I check the progress of a DBS application?
Please contact your Disclosure supplier if you have ordered a Disclosure through another company.
Note: The following contact information is for APCS customers only:
Basic Disclosure – To check the progress of your Basic Disclosure application please call us on:
0845 643 1145 (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday)
Standard or Enhanced Disclosure – You can track the progress of your Standard or Enhanced Disclosure either:
On-line through the DBS Tracking service,
Or by calling the DBS on: 0300 0200 190
What are DBS Checks used for?
Primarily, DBS Checks are used by businesses, companies, recruitment agencies and organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors, to make safer recruitment decisions by identifying candidates who may be unsuitable for certain work that involves children or vulnerable adults.
However, many companies and organisations are now using DBS checks as an essential part of their recruitment procedure to ensure their current and prospective staff members are of good character.
DBS Checks are also available to individuals for visa applications, for an application for a personal liquor licence, to check if you have a criminal record, or to provide official evidence that you have a clean record, which is becoming increasingly popular for job applications. Please see Basic Disclosure
What is a Disclosure?
After a DBS check is completed an Official Disclosure Certificate (sometimes referred to as a disclosure document) is issued by the DBS showing the results of the check.
There are three levels of Disclosure: Basic, Standard and Enhanced.
Depending on the type of check requested, it may contain details of spent and unspent convictions, reprimands, warnings and where appropriate, local police records (see Disclosure Information Chart further below)
If a Disclosure contains no record of criminal convictions it is considered to be a testament to good character and conduct.
What does the word “Disclosure” mean?
Disclosure means the giving out of information to be in compliance with legal regulations or workplace rules.
In the law of England and Wales, disclosure refers to a process that may form part of legal proceedings, whereby parties inform (“disclose”) to other parties the existence of any relevant documents that are, or have been, in their control.
A DBS Disclosure – is an official certificate (sometimes referred to as a document) containing impartial and confidential criminal history information held by the police and government departments.
What information will I be asked?
The Disclosure Application Form asks for the following information from the applicant:
- Name and date of birth
- Town and country of birth
- 5 year address history
- National Insurance number
- Passport and driving licence details (if applicable)
- Mother’s maiden name
Who will receive the Disclosure?
The applicant will receive the Disclosure by post directly from the DBS. In addition, an electronic notification of the result is also sent to the Umbrella Body (us) and we forward this to the nominated disclosure manager at the client organisation.
How confidential is the information provided?
Organisations using the Disclosure service are bound by the DBS Code of Practice, which is issued under section 122 of Part V of the Police Act 1997”.
Note: APCS supply the Code of Practice with your first order.
Under the provisions of the Code, sensitive personal information must be handled and stored appropriately and must be kept only for as long as necessary. The Code of Practice is published on the DBS website, a copy will be provided by APCS. Once the recruitment decision is taken, there is no need to retain the Disclosure document. The date and reference number is sufficient evidence that checks have been made.
It is a criminal offence to pass on any information in a Disclosure to any third party.
What if a Disclosure reveals a criminal record?
Safeguards and guidelines have been introduced to ensure that conviction information is not misused and that ex-offenders are not treated unfairly.
The DBS Code of Practice covers how recipients of Disclosures use the information revealed.
In particular, an employer must consider:
- Whether the conviction is relevant to the position in question.
- The seriousness of the matter revealed.
- The length of time since the matter occurred.
Disclosure Information Chart
The criminal record information which is checked and recorded (where appropriate) in the three levels of DBS disclosure.
|Unspent criminal convictions||X||X||X|
|Spent criminal convictions||X||X|
|Cautions, reprimands and final warnings (please see descriptions below chart)||X||X|
|Other relevant information held by police forces||X|
|Inclusion on the barred list(s)(where relevant to post applied for)||X|
What are Cautions?
A ‘simple caution’ is not a criminal conviction, but it will be recorded on the police database. It may be used in court as evidence of bad character, or as part of an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) application. The record will remain on the police database along with photographs, fingerprints and any other evidence taken.
A ‘conditional caution’ differs from a simple caution in that you must comply with certain conditions to receive the caution and to avoid prosecution for the offence you’ve committed.
Just like a simple caution, a conditional caution is not a criminal conviction. But it will be recorded on the police database and may be considered in court if you are tried for another offence. The record will remain on the police database along with photographs, fingerprints and any other samples taken at the time.
Do young offenders receive cautions?
No! Young offenders (aged 17 and under) are given ‘reprimands’ and ‘final warnings’ instead of simple cautions. This is to try and keep them out of the court system.
What are reprimands and final warnings?
Anybody between the ages of 10 and 18 years can receive a reprimand and/or final warning. A reprimand is issued for a minor first offence. A final warning is issued by the police for a second offence, no matter how minor. It is also possible to get a final warning if the first offence is too serious for a reprimand.
Spent / Unspent Convictions
Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, a conviction becomes spent after a period of time. The rehabilitation period varies according to the sentence given, not to the offence committed. For a custodial sentence, the length of time actually served is irrelevant: the rehabilitation period is determined by the original sentence. *Custodial sentences of more than two and a half years never become spent. Please see the Chart below:
|The following sentences become spent after fixed periods from the date of conviction.||Rehabilitation Period|
|Sentence||Over 18when convicted||Under 18when convicted|
|Prison sentence (including suspended sentences)– 6 mths to 2.5 yrs||10 yrs||5 yrs|
|Prison sentence (including suspended sentences)– 6 mths or less||7 yrs||3.5 yrs|
|Fines, probation, compensation, community service, reparation orders, curfew orders||5yrs||2.5 yrs|
|Absolute discharge||6 mths||6mths|
|Custodial sentences* of more than two and a half years never become spent.||Never||Never|
* A custodial sentence, also known as a sentence of imprisonment, or detention, is where the offender is detained in custody for a period of time.
How long is a Disclosure valid?
Each Disclosure will show the date on which it was provided. The older the Disclosure the less reliable it becomes. The DBS recommends that disclosures should be renewed every 3 years, or when a person changes their employer however, some organisations have regulations that may require renewals at shorter periods.