DBS Check

  • Recruitment
DBS Checks
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

Read our guide where we'll discuss DBS checks, the different types you can request, and the laws surrounding them.

Employing trustworthy staff is a necessity for any business. And depending on your industry, you might require a candidate with no prior criminal record. To ensure they don't, you can use a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

A DBS check validates someone's criminal history - or lack of. Failure to use them could mean you hire unreliable staff. As a result, you might endanger your business or staff members.

In this guide, we'll discuss DBS checks, the different types you can request, and the laws surrounding them.

What is a DBS check?

A Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check is a review of an individual's criminal record and relevant offences. They're used by businesses, companies, recruitment agencies and organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors.

These companies typically work with vulnerable groups. So have to use criminal record checks to ensure candidates have no spent or unspent convictions. For example, an applicant with a sexual assault conviction would be barred from working with children.

But, it's worth noting that companies in various industries use this type of background checking as well. This is so they can verify if an applicant is suitable for a role in their business, before they make a final hiring decision.

When did DBS checks start?

DBS checks started in December 2012 when the Criminal Records Bureau merged with the ISA (Independent Safeguarding Authority) to form the DBS.

Prior to this merger, they were previously known as Criminal Record Background (CRB) Checks, as they were solely carried about by the Criminal Records Bureau.

Who needs a DBS check?

A DBS check is needed for any role defined as regulated activity. For example, any position that involves working with children or vulnerable adults. This mainly includes roles in:

  • Schools.
  • Hospitals.
  • Care homes.

This is because individuals are prohibited from working with these groups if they have any violent or sexual offences. Otherwise, roles that do not perform regulated activity don't require DBS checks, but it's in an employer’s best interest to do so.

Why is a DBS check important?

There are several reasons why DBS checks are important. For example, they can save companies that work with vulnerable groups from hiring people with a violent criminal record.

Let's explore some other reasons why businesses use DBS checks.

Protects the most vulnerable

One reason DBS checks are important is because they safeguard and prevent harm occurring to the most vulnerable in our society. For example, if organisations working with vulnerable people don't run a DBS check on a new employee, they might end up hiring someone with a violent criminal background.

Consequently, this new hire could endanger the groups these organisations seek to protect. But, employers must be careful not to refuse employment for applicants with a spent conviction, as this would breach the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1997. Unless, the applicant is on the Exceptions Order.

Protects businesses

DBS checks are also important because they protect businesses.

Whilst not every company will work with vulnerable adults or children, they'll still want to ensure the safety of their present staff. Which, a DBS check can help to do.

What are the different types of DBS checks?

There are four types of DBS checks you can use. Which one you choose will vary depending on what your business needs.

Let's discuss them in further detail below.

Basic DBS check

A Basic DBS certificate is something applicants can request for themselves - there is no eligibility criteria – except from the fact the individual must be 16 or over.

This type of basic check returns details from the Police National Computer on an individual's unspent convictions and conditional cautions. Or provides a statement that the individual has no such convictions or cautions.

Standard DBS check

A Standard DBS check is used by companies in certain industries, such as security. Like Basic DBS checks, a Standard check will identify any unspent convictions, but also includes:

  • Spent and unspent convictions.
  • Spent and unspent cautions.
  • Police reprimands.
  • Police final warnings.

Individuals can submit a Standard DBS or Enhanced checks themselves. But they must be signed by a recruiting organisation, or through a registered body.

Enhanced DBS check

Professions listed in the Exceptions Order, and Police Act Regulations are only able to request Enhanced DBS checks. For example, childminders or teachers. An Enhanced DBS check gathers the same information a Standard check does.

But unlike a Standard DBS check, an Enhanced DBS check reviews any extra information considered relevant by local police as well. But the Chief Police Officer must decide whether this is relevant or not.

Enhanced DBS with barred lists check

An Enhanced DBS check with barred lists is the same as an Enhanced DBS check, but it also includes a check of one or two Barred Lists. A Barred List is a database that provides details of individuals who are banned from working with children or vulnerable adults.

If you live in Scotland, there are different rules that apply when requesting DBS checks. The country has its own organisation regarding this, named the DBS and Disclosure Scotland.

Who pays for a DBS check?

In most instances, the employer will pay for a DBS check on candidates. But this isn't a legal requirement, so they could ask applicants to cover the cost.

If you'd like to run a DBS check on your potential employees, it's advisable that you pay for it. This is common practice, and won't deter candidates from applying to your company because of added costs.

How much does a DBS check cost?

The cost of a DBS check varies depending on the sort of check you need. For example, Standard and Basic checks are approximately £18, whilst an Enhanced check is £38.

Applicants can also sign up for the DBS update service, which is £13 annually. This allows them to renew their DBS certificate without having to pay a full DBS fee.

How long does a DBS check take?

A DBS check takes up to 14 days on average. However, it can take longer to process DBS checks in certain instances. For example, when:

  • The details a business provides are incorrect.
  • The process involves several police forces.

Employers can also use an online fast-track service. This will mean DBS checks are completed quickly, as the applications that pay for this service are prioritised. However, this service isn't available in DBS & Disclosure Scotland.

How long does a DBS check last?

DBS checks have no official expiry date, and the information the check includes will be relevant at the time it was requested. It's up to you as an employer to decide when DBS certificates need updating.

You can also use the DBS update service to check if a candidate's DBS certificate is up-to-date. This will have been used in their previous roles or applications. Just ensure the applicant's identity matches the same details on their DBS certificate.

How to get a DBS check

If you want to run your own criminal record check on staff, there are two options you can take to do so. For example, you can use an online application form, or go through a registered body.

Let's take a look at how you can get a DBS check below.

Obtain candidate details

In order to get a DBS check, you must first obtain the relevant candidate details. These include the individual's:

  • Proof of identity.
  • National Insurance Number.
  • Debit or credit card.

They should also provide a proof of address document, which should provide address history from the past five years. The completed form is then submitted to the Disclosure and Barring Service, or another registered provider.

Use an online application form

You can apply online for a DBS check through the government website. If it’s a Basic DBS check, your candidate or employee can request their own.

But if you need a Standard or Enhanced check, you can submit an online form through a responsible organisation. These are also listed on the government website.

Make a decision

Once you have received the DBS certificate, you'll be able to make an informed decision about whether the candidate is the right fit for your company. But bear in mind the above that if spent, you cannot refuse to employ someone on this basis, unless the position applied for falls within the Exceptions Order.

If a candidate's basic DBS check reveals they have no criminal record, you can resume the process as normal.

Get expert advice on DBS checks from Peninsula

You should make DBS checks a part of your application process. A Basic DBS check will suffice for most employers, but if you work with children or vulnerable adults you'll need a Standard or Enhanced DBS check.

This type of criminal record check will confirm whether or not your applicants have any spent and unspent convictions, as well as any final warnings - depending on the check you apply for. If you fail to use one, it could endanger your business and its employees, as well as the general public.

Peninsula offers expert advice on Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks. Our teams provide 24/7 HR advice which is available 365 days a year. We take care of everything when you work with our HR experts.

Want to find out more? Contact us on 0800 028 2420 and book a free consultation with an HR consultant today.

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