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October 2023 Changes to DBS Process

Apply for a DBS Check

Effective employment screening involves a wide trawl of someone’s background, but for many positions the most crucial step is the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) criminal record check. DBS checks were previously known as CRB checks, and this process is vital for roles working with vulnerable populations or in positions of trust. Scotland and Northern Ireland have separate processes under different names, but the end result is broadly similar. As of October 28, 2023, significant changes to DBS were made, and both employers and those people planning on applying for a criminal record check soon should be aware of what changes were made. This guide sheds light on the various types of DBS checks, and will explain what changes are being made, and what differences you might expect to come across.


Spent Convictions

The changes which are being made to the DBS system are around the concept of spent convictions. People with criminal convictions are legally obliged to declare these convictions when they are asked by employers or an insurance company for a set period after the offence was committed. Although basic disclosure checks only ever reveal unspent convictions, enhanced and standard DBS checks can delve deeper into someone’s past and might reveal spent convictions in some situations. Under the previous laws, some crimes had to be disclosed by offenders by the rest of their lives, and many rehabilitation experts felt this presented a significant barrier to people who had got into trouble in their youth from finding a good job in the future.


Seven-Year Rehabilitation

Under previous laws, any offence which resulted in a prison sentence of four years or more was never spent, and would potentially turn up on a disclosure certificate for the rest of the offender’s life. The October 2023 changes impose a new seven-year period on this level of offences, after which the conviction is considered spent. The offender will no longer have to declare their conviction, as long as they have not committed any other offences.



There are some exclusions to this new rule about convictions being spent after seven years. It does not apply to offences which are violent, sexual in nature or linked to terrorism. The DBS also retains the right to choose to disclose convictions which are spent in other situations on standard or enhanced disclosure certificates, particularly for positions involving vulnerable people, such as children, the elderly, or hospital patients.

If you think you might fall into the category of someone who has convictions in the distant past which will be considered spent under the new legislation, then rehabilitation charities such as Unlock can help. It’s also important to remember that having a previous, very old conviction may not hinder you on a day-to-day basis. Disclosure certificates are not always required for every job, and not every situation is going to require you to tell them about previous offences. Employers will also look at a wide range of other factors, such as what you have been doing in the period since your conviction.