It’s common to see jobs advertised which state that applicants need to complete a disclosure check. Most of us are aware that this is some sort of criminal records check, but for many, the knowledge doesn’t go much deeper than that. Lots of people are under the impression that you only need a criminal check if you’re planning to work with children, which isn’t the case. In fact, a disclosure check is a requirement for a wide range of occupations in the UK, from being a traffic warden to working as a hospital cleaner. The terminology around the UK varies too, with Scotland and Northern Ireland having different systems which are administered locally but which produce similar information and certificates. Your employer should be the expert in criminal records checking as it applies to your position and will be the one making the decisions about which level of check you need. Big employers, such as the NHS or a local authority often manage the CRB application process in-house. Smaller employers might manage the process themselves too but are perhaps more likely to use a third-party umbrella organisation to do it for them. However the process is arranged, the end result is the same – you get your disclosure certificate in the post. There are a few steps before you get to that stage though, one of the most important of which is to verify your identity.
The Importance of Identity Verification
So why is verifying identity such an important stage in the process? The only point at which the applicant may be seen is during the application phase. The Disclosure and Barring service won’t phone applicants or interview them as part of the application. That is all done before the application is received. In order to make sure you are checking the correct records for that individual, there have to be processes in place to match the person submitting the application to the details on the form. Or put it another way – how do you know they are who they say they are? It’s easy to see why someone with a lengthy criminal record might be tempted to assume someone else’s identity in order to make a fresh start.
How Identity Verification Works
There are a few different routes for identity checking, and this will depend on the level of disclosure check which you are applying for.
- Basic DBS Check – a basic DBS check just lists your current, unspent criminal convictions or cautions. This is the only DBS check which you can request on yourself. Most applicants for a basic DBS check complete their identity verification online. This works by the applicant logging into a secure government site, where their identity is verified using other documents such as the electoral register, passport or driving licence.
- Standard and Enhanced DBS Checks – although online verification may also be used for these checks, it is more common for employers to verify identities in person. Employers will explain the process and tell you what you need to bring with you.
The Disclosure and Barring Service – and similar partner bodies in Scotland and Northern Ireland – produces a long list of documents which can be accepted to prove identity for disclosure purposes. There are many combinations of these which you can present, but you’ll need documents from the two main categories.
- Personal documents – these are officially issued identity documents like passport, driving licence, birth certificate, marriage certificate. Most of us will have at least one of these, often more than one.
- Financial and Social documents – these are the documents which tie someone with your name to your address. The DBS wants to see documents such as correspondence from a government agency, bank statements, credit card bills, utility bills or Council Tax bills.
A Few Key Points About Documents
There are lots of misconceptions about documents, and if you present the wrong documents, or paperwork in the wrong format, your application may be rejected. Some of the key things to remember about documents are:
- Originals Only – no print outs from your online bank account, photocopies, scanned images, or photographs can be accepted. This might mean requesting a statement in the post if you bank and manage bills online.
- In your name – you can’t present a bill for electricity, Council Tax or anything else if you’re not named on it, even if you live at the address.
- Recent – the general rule is that any bill or statement has to be dated within the last 3 months. If it’s paperwork which is only sent annually (such as a tax reminder or Council Tax bill), it must be the most recent.
- Foreign documents – passports, birth certificates and driving licences from other countries can be used as proof of ID for a DBS check. You might be asked to have these professionally translated though.