Customer helpline: 0333 030 0446

Myths about DBS

Start my check

Although 4 million applications for DBS checks are processed every year, there’s still a lot of misinformation and poor understanding about how the system works. This leads to people getting the wrong end of the stick about how DBS works, and gives rise to myths which we’ve probably all heard about the system. We’re here to set the record straight on some of the more common things you’ll hear about DBS checking.


Myth: It’s a Pass or Fail Scenario

You’ll often hear about people passing their DBS check, or not being able to take up employment because they “failed”. This makes a DBS test sound a bit like the exams you sat at school or your driving test, when you’re given a grade at the end. That’s not the case at all. A DBS certificate is a statement of fact. The forms issued by the DBS will show what information the Police hold on computer about your criminal past, if any. The Police don’t make the decision about whether you should get the job. It’s up to the employer to look at the information, and decide whether they want to offer you the position. Decisions may be different depending on the organisation and the role.


Myth: DBS Checks are Only Valid for a Year

There’s no expiry date on a DBS certificate. This is because the information is only current on the day the certificate was printed. If you commit an offence the day after the DBS is issued, it won’t be listed, unless you’re signed up for the online update service. It’s up to employers how often they want to renew DBS certificates for staff. Most opt to go through this process every two or three years.


Myth: Having A DBS Check is a Legal Requirement

Again, not true. The DBS checking process is a tool designed to help employers recruit safely. Some organisations, such as OFSTED which regulates schools and childcare, have a requirement that people be DBS checked. Other trade bodies, such as the Association of Locksmiths, might say that if you want to be a member, you have to undergo a DBS check as part of the application process. But those are the policies and requirements of that particular organisation, not an overall legal requirement.


Myth: You Can’t Get A Job With a Criminal Record

There are over 11 million people with a criminal record in the UK, most of whom are working. The DBS filtering system means that in some situations, details of things which happened years ago and were minor in nature may well be left off a DBS form entirely. And besides, most jobs in the UK do not require DBS checking for someone to be employed.


Myth: You Need A New DBS For Every Employer

This one’s perhaps partly true. The DBS offers an online DBS Update service, which allows you online access to your DBS. Any new information is automatically added, and you can give your employer access too. However, if you’ve not registered for the service, you will need a new DBS for each job or voluntary position.