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How are DBS Checks Used to Make Decisions?

Apply for a DBS Check

DBS Checks play a crucial role in making informed recruitment decisions for both individuals and organisations. In the UK, criminal records checks are the main tool used by employers in ensuring they are following safeguarding procedures, and not putting vulnerable people, or their company finances in danger. In England and Wales, criminal records checks are done by the Disclosure and Barring Service, or DBS. In Scotland, the organisation is called Disclosure Scotland, and the checks are known as PVG checks. Whatever the name of the organisation, the process and purpose of criminal records checks are broadly similar.


The Role of DBS Checks

DBS Checks come in three types: Basic, Standard, and Enhanced. Basic checks are available for anyone, while Standard and Enhanced checks are specifically for certain roles. It is not for the employer to decide which level of check they would like someone to have, the more detailed levels of checks are limited to specific occupation types.

Even when recruiting for a role where a DBS check or similar is not a legal requirement, employers might ask for a basic check as a way of looking at someone’s character, or to ensure they are not employing someone with a long string of criminal convictions. From an employee’s perspective, it should also give you peace of mind knowing that your colleagues have all been checked out, and that the employer is taking their responsibilities seriously.


Getting a DBS Check

If you need to get a DBS check in connection with a new position, this will usually be stated on the job advertisement. Checks are usually started after interview, at the stage of making a provisional job offer. Depending on the position and the responsibilities, you might be able to start work while waiting for the DBS certificate to arrive in the post. Your employer will usually guide you through the process of filling in the application form for your DBS check, and what documents you need to show to prove your identity and address details.


Does My DBS Check Have to be Clean?

One common myth is that a clean DBS certificate is a requirement, whatever the job under consideration. This is not true, and decisions are always made on a case-by-case basis. Most employers recognise that a couple of minor offences in your distant past shouldn’t stop you from holding down a job many years later. The main point to remember is to always be honest about your past if you have one and explain what you have been doing in the years since you got into trouble.


Repeated DBS Checks

For some positions, a DBS check when you start work initially will be all that is required. Others will require checks to be renewed every two or three years. There are no hard and fast rules about this, and your employer will have their own policies. The process for renewing a DBS check is the same as for applying for a new check from scratch.