Disclosure checks have been around in the UK for well over a decade, but there is still widespread misunderstanding about the purpose of the checks and the process for getting them. One of the main DBS myths is that only people who are going to be working with children need checks into their criminal record. Although it’s certainly true that most people who will be working with kids will need an enhanced DBS check, there are lots of other groups of workers who need to go through the process too.
The other main group apart from people working with children who need to submit a CRB application are healthcare workers. This is a large group – the NHS is the UK’s largest single employer. The level of check will depend on the healthcare role under consideration. Nurses, doctors, and other roles where the worker is having direct contact with a patient will need an enhanced disclosure check, the most detailed level of checking. These checks look at not only an individual’s current, unspent criminal record, but also into their more distant past to see if there’s anything which bring into question their suitability for the job. As the UK’s largest employer, the NHS is well-versed on submitting DBS applications and should be able to help applicants through the process.
Other people working in hospitals, care homes and similar settings will also need a DBS check. If they are working in an administrative role, management position or in the hospital kitchens, the NHS will probably require a standard disclosure instead. This in many aspects is similar to the enhanced check, as it will disclose older convictions on record if they are thought to be relevant. During the Covid 19 pandemic, the DBS gave priority to applications from NHS workers, as well as waiving the fee for their application. This continued through the rest of 2020 and into 2021, but it remains to be seen how long NHS workers will still get their free DBS checks, sped through the system.
Court and Police Workers
People who apply to join the police have a separate application process, which involves not only criminal records checks but also more extensive vetting into their relationships and financial situation. Other people working in the legal system usually need a standard disclosure. For some roles, such as registering as a barrister or lawyer, applicants just require a criminal record check when they first register in the profession. In other situations, someone applying to be an usher in a court, or to drive transport from prison to court, might need a new DBS check every time they switch positions or employers.
Fit and Proper Person Checks
Another large group of people who might require a DBS certificate is people who require a “fit and proper person” check as part of their work. This describes the checks which are done on someone trying to get a licence to be a pub landlord, operate a casino or even run a garage which does MOT checks. The idea behind this is to ensure that people who are in these positions are reputable and honest and are going to stick to the rules about selling alcohol, for example. Again, the frequency of the check will depend on the industry concerned. There may be other aspects to the checking too, such as registering with a body overseeing the industry, or undergoing specific training to get into the industry. This is certainly the case for people working as door supervisors, for example.
Recently, local authorities have transformed the way in which both black cab and private hire drivers are granted licences. Procedures vary from town to town – lots of people are familiar with “The Knowledge” test which London black cab drivers have to pass, for example. Other areas ask drivers to pass an English test, or health exam too. One thing which all areas have in common is a requirement for all taxi drivers to have an enhanced disclosure check. This is the most detailed check and should weed out anyone with any violent offences or sex offences in their past which casts doubt on their suitability to be alone in a car with a potentially vulnerable passenger. Most local authorities require drivers to get re-licensed every three years, and that means a new enhanced disclosure check every three years too. Drivers usually meet the cost of these checks themselves.
After Checks are Done
One of the main worries about DBS checks is that once the certificate arrives in the post, there is no way for employers to find out about any crimes committed after the certificate is issued. This is only partially true. In many cases, the police will inform the employer if someone commits a crime which would probably show up on their DBS certificate.