• Tom Conlon

5 Things to Know About DBS Checks

Updated: Jun 1


In all our recent pieces, we have discussed terms such as onboarding and DBS Checks assuming everyone knows what we mean. In truth, onboarding and DBS Checks are broad and complex terms, and this article will help you understand exactly what DBS Checks are, what they involve and why they’re important.


1.) What It Is and What it Shows

A DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) Check is a check requested by employer on an individual’s criminal history. This includes any prior convictions, cautions, final warnings and conditional cautions. This is so employers can make a decision on whether an individual is suited to the role being filled.

This does not mean that every offence someone has committed will appear on the final certificate. There is a process called filtering that removes certain offences and cautions from the certificate the employer sees. These include certain cautions from before the individual was 18 years old (and two years have passed since), or cautions that happened after the individual turned 18 years old, but six years have passed since.

There are some cautions and convictions, however, that will never be filtered from a DBS Check, regardless of when or how old the individual was when the offence took place. These include anything related to the supply of drugs, robbery, and certain sexual offences.


2.) Why They’re Important

While the law dictates that individuals require DBS checks before starting in certain roles (such as teaching, care roles, and hospital staff), companies often conduct Basic DBS Checks when they do not need to by law.

This can be for a number of reasons, but it is mainly to have a more effective onboarding process, improve employee engagement with the onboarding process, and to help employees feel more secure in their workplace.


3.) The Types

The amount of information the employer receives from a DBS Check also varies depending on the type of check.

- A Basic DBS Check simply shows any unspent convictions and conditional cautions. This type of check is usually for roles such as security officers, personal licensees, and taxi drivers.

- A Standard DBS Check shows everything a Basic check would, plus any reprimands or final warnings. This type of check is mainly for roles where there is not regular contact with children or vulnerable adults.

- An Enhanced DBS Check shows everything a Standard check would, plus any other information that the local police service decides is worthy to mention because it relates to the role being filled. This type of check is mainly for roles with regular contact with children or vulnerable adults. When it comes to Enhanced DBS Checks, the same rules apply for volunteers and workers, meaning volunteers require an Enhanced Check in order to work with vulnerable groups.

- A Barred Lists Check is the most advanced DBS Check available. It provides all the information an Enhanced Check does, as well as checking the individual’s name against a list of people barred from certain positions.


4.) What Is Needed

There are many different ways an individual can provide the information needed for DBS Check. Individuals need to provide at least one ‘Primary Trusted Document’ (a driving licence or passport), a document providing your date of birth, and a document providing your current address.

Put simply, if you have a passport, then this plus a document containing your current address (such as a recent bill) will be fine. If you don’t have a passport, then it is still straightforward to provide the necessary information. A recent bill, a driving licence and a recent bank statement should be sufficient.

The time it takes to process the information and send over the DBS certificate varies with the type of check, the area you are in, and the efficiency of the system being used, though typically a DBS application should take no longer than a couple of weeks to complete.


5.) What Happens Next

Once the employer receives the certificate, it is up to them to review it and make a decision based on the results of the DBS Check. If the certificate reveals no previous cautions and convictions, then the individual should move onto the next stage of their onboarding process.

If the certificate reveals prior cautions and convictions, this does not necessarily mean that the individual is not eligible for the role. It is up to the employer to decide whether the results on the DBS certificate means the individual is not suitable for the job.

In roles involving work with children and vulnerable adults, it is common for DBS checks to be renewed every so often. This, however, varies by employer and there is no law on how often DBS checks should be conducted.



For more information about DBS Checks, please visit our FAQs page.


Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash