It’s hardly surprising that there’s a lot of confusion about checks performed by the Police into your background. For a start, the body which we all knew as the Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) changed a few years ago into another body called the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). In Scotland, there’s a separate organisation called Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG), and yet another body across the water in Northern Ireland, called AccessNI. If that wasn’t complicated enough, then there are different types of Disclosure check done, depending on what type of role the person is applying for.
A basic check is carried out on people when they are applying to work in a position of trust, but which does not involve working directly with children or vulnerable adults. This is the level of checking which is done when someone applies for a licence to serve alcohol, or wants to work airside in an airport. Basic checks will only show any convictions which are not considered spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Acts. Very serious offences will never be considered spent, but minor things such as shoplifting or being drunk and disorderly will eventually drop off your Police record in most cases. Basic checks don’t show cautions or warnings, or any other intelligence held about you.
A standard check is a bit more detailed. In addition to showing the unspent convictions, they’ll show up any spent convictions which are considered relevant given the position being applied for, and any cautions and warnings which are on your police record if they’re relevant too. Standard DBS checks are carried out on a wide range of roles which involve working in hospitals but not with patients – perhaps as a cleaner, maintenance worker or medical secretary – and for people wanting to work as a solicitor, veterinary surgeon, traffic warden, or chartered accountant.
This is the type of check which gets the most publicity as it’s the type of check which is carried out on people who are working or volunteering with children or vulnerable adults. It can also apply to people working in the prison service, or in very high-security government establishments. An enhanced check will look into both unspent and spent convictions, warnings, cautions and official reprimands and other information kept on the Police computer, if it’s felt to be relevant. With an estimated 1 in 4 adults having a criminal record, having a conviction or something else in the past show up on an Enhanced Disclosure doesn’t mean an automatic bar to employment. It does mean though that you’ll have to have a frank and honest discussion with your employer about what happened and your record since.
A further type of Enhanced Check looks into the Barring Lists. If you’re on one of these lists, you’d know about it. These are government held lists of people who as part of their criminal sentencing have been told they should never be allowed to work with children or vulnerable adults again.