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Three Levels of DBS Checks Explained

Apply for a DBS Check

Getting a DBS check done is something which thousands of people do each year. There’s a lot of press coverage about the system, which looks into people’s criminal records. Most of the coverage is about the sort of DBS checks which people need to work with children or vulnerable adults. However, this is just a small part of the disclosure process. There are in fact three different sorts of disclosure checks, and the type you need will depend on the type of work you will be doing.


Basic DBS Check

As the name suggests, a basic check is the least detailed type of disclosure. It’s also the only type of criminal records check which you can request on yourself. Anyone can pay for a basic DBS check at any time. A basic DBS certificate shows your current, unspent criminal record only. The idea of “spent” refers to rehabilitation law, which allows people to discount some criminal offences after a set period of time. The length of time will depend on how old the person was at the time of the offence. Very serious crimes are never spent, whereas very minor convictions or cautions as a teenager disappear off your record in as little as a year. There’s lots of information online to help you work out what’s current and what is “forgotten”.


Standard DBS Check

Standard DBS checks can only be requested if you are applying for a job which requires it. The government draws up a list of the types of jobs which need checks, and it’s against the law for an employer to ask you for a disclosure if the job doesn’t require it. A standard DBS check is more detailed than the basic in that it will look into spent convictions as well as unspent ones. As most of the people asking for standard disclosures are going into jobs in the court system, financial services or other positions of responsibility, a long record from years ago may still be relevant. When preparing the certificate, the police go through a filtering process to look at the person’s criminal record and assess the type of information against the role they will be doing.


Enhanced Disclosure

This level of disclosure is the one which get most attention. Enhanced disclosures are needed when working with children or vulnerable adults. It’s also the most detailed level of check and shows not only all the relevant convictions and cautions on the police computer but also police intelligence too. For example, if someone’s name has repeatedly been mentioned in burglary cases, has been charged several times but never convicted through lack of evidence, this might be disclosed if they are thinking of working as a locksmith.

Most enhanced disclosures also involve a search of the barred lists. These are registers of people who are legally blocked from working in certain fields. Individuals might be barred from work with children, adults or both. Employers can’t ignore information on the barred lists as it’s a criminal offence to employ someone whose name appears.