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Face Masks and DBS Checks

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As the whole world starts to emerge from quarantine and lockdown, one of the most widely adopted measures has been laws around face masks. Here in the UK, each of the four nations has slightly different laws. Wherever you live, the rules around face masks are enforced by law, and people who aren’t medically exempt and refuse to wear a mask or other covering could face fines. There is much confusion around what this actually means – does it mean you’ll get a criminal record and could it turn up on a future DBS check?

 

Fixed Penalty Notices

The police in all parts of the UK are dealing with Covid-19 infractions by using fixed penalty notices. Fixed penalties are an “on the spot” fine issued by the police. Police don’t arrest people for not wearing a mask, unless other crimes are being committed at the same time. If you pay the fine in the period specified, then that’s the end of the matter. Courts are not involved, and you won’t hear from the police again. Fixed penalty notices are nothing new. The police regularly dish out fixed penalty fines for not wearing a seatbelt while driving, speeding or being drunk and disorderly. Paying the fine isn’t seen as an admission of guilt, but could the fact that a penalty notice was issued is still recorded on the police national computer be a cause for concern?

 

Enhanced DBS Checks and Additional Information

There are three separate levels of DBS checks. Standard and Basic checks will only show details of criminal convictions, and as being given a fixed penalty notice for any reason is not a conviction, these will not appear on this type of DBS. An enhanced disclosure check shows a greater level of detail. On this type of check, the police can choose to disclose any other information which they hold on file about the applicant, whether it resulted in a conviction or not. This is where there is the potential for information about fixed penalties to be revealed.

However, the police have a great degree of flexibility over what they choose to disclose on a DBS certificate. It’s a balancing act; they have to look at the type of information which is on file, and the position which is under consideration. It is incredibly unlikely that a one-off fixed penalty offence will be seen as relevant, whether the fine was in connection with driving, breaking lockdown rules or not wearing a mask.

If, however you’re a habitual rule breaker who has racked up several different fixed penalties over a very short period of time for a range of offences, then the police may take another view. It is an unlikely scenario though, someone else being completely law-abiding in all other aspects of their life, but being repeatedly fined for speeding, breaking lockdown laws or refusing to cover their faces when asked to do so. If the fixed penalty fines come on top of a large number of other types of convictions and cautions, then the police might decide that on balance, they should disclose everything.