Common Misconceptions about Your DBS Check

Apply for a DBS Check

We think we’ve come across pretty much every myth there is around DBS checks and certificates. Some of the conspiracy theories around checking are easily debunked, but there are lots of other myths which persist on social media and are not so easy to disprove. Part of the confusion stems from the regular changes in terminology, so you’ll still see people talking about CRB checks when they actually mean DBS checks. Some of the other misinformation is more serious though, and if you listen to some of the rumours and myths you hear, you could find your own certificate being delayed.


Myth 1 – DBS certificates are pass/fail

This is perhaps the most common myth, equating your DBS check to something like your driving test or GCSE maths. All the DBS certificate is a statement of fact. It will list your criminal convictions and cautions if you have any, but only those which the DBS think are relevant to the position you are applying for. It’s then up to your employer to look at the information on your certificate and decide whether they want to employ you or not. There is no blanket rule that someone needs a completely clean DBS check to secure a position.


Myth 2 – I can decide what level of DBS check I have

There are three levels of DBS check: basic, standard, and enhanced. The only one you can request without reason is a basic check. The other two levels of check can only be requested in connection with a specific job which falls into the category of regulated activity. Your employer will tell you which check you need for the role you have applied for.


Myth 3 – DBS certificates expire after a set period of time

There is no expiry date on a DBS certificate. Each organisation will do its own risk assessment and decide how often they want to redo checks on staff. This will vary depending on the work the organisation is doing but is typically anything between three and five years. This should all be set out in the company’s policy on safeguarding or DBS checks.


Myth 4 – I can take my DBS certificate from one job to another

DBS certificates aren’t portable and can only be used in connection with one particular job. This is because the DBS will look at the sort of work you will be doing when deciding what information to put on your certificate. Those decisions may be different depending on whether you will be working with children or adults, for example. The only way round this is by signing up for the DBS Update scheme, which gives access to your data online, for a small annual fee.

Even if you don’t believe all the myths about the DBS system, it can be easy to get confused about how to apply. Get support from your employer or speak to the DBS helpline if you have a specific query which you require an answer to rather than trying to guess.