Children who have early dealings with the criminal justice system are often among the most vulnerable in society. Many young people may make mistakes or act impulsively without fully grasping the repercussions of their actions as teenagers, which lands them in the police cells overnight. Some will be released without any further actions, but many will be issued with an official police caution, or go through the court system and be convicted. There is growing concern that these young people could suffer lifelong effects from these early brushes with the law, as many convictions or cautions can appear on a DBS certificate for many years after the event.
A DBS certificate, also previously known as a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) certificate, is a statement of someone’s criminal record. Many employers will ask someone to apply for a CRB when considering them for certain jobs, or as a general indication of good character. Having a criminal record can affect a young person for many years, so campaigners urge parents to think about the impact of a conviction, out of court settlement or caution for their teenager’s future.
All About Criminal Records
Criminal records are stored on the Police National Computer (PNC) and contain information about all an individual's interactions with the criminal justice system. The only way of accessing this information for people outside the police is through a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check or an enhanced DBS check. Having a criminal record may not just affect someone’s job prospects; it could also affect the ability to travel to certain countries or emigrate overseas permanently.
Types of DBS Checks
There are three levels of criminal records checks and the sort of check required will depend on the circumstances around the application.
1. Basic: Reveals unspent convictions and cautions; any employer can request this, and individuals can request for one by themselves.
2. Standard: Similar to a basic check but includes all cautions, spent convictions, reprimands, and warnings held on the PNC, unless filtered out. These checks have to be requested through an employer and are often used specific roles like security or financial services.
3. Enhanced: The most comprehensive check, which includes all information found on the standard level, plus relevant non-conviction details on police records. These checks are common for people working with children or vulnerable adults, whether paid or unpaid.
What is Filtering?
Convictions may become spent after a set rehabilitation period, and some are filtered, meaning they won't be disclosed on certain DBS certificates. Youth cautions, reprimands, and warnings are unlikely to appear on standard or enhanced DBS checks. This is because the rehabilitation legislation recognises that it is unfair to penalise someone over a very minor offence decades ago. Despite these filtering rules, legal experts advise parents and young people who are caught up in trouble with the police to seek legal advice over the implications of accepting a caution or formal reprimand. It might seem like a good way of getting a matter resolved quickly but can have lasting consequences.