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What Is a DBS Check and Why Do You Need It?

DBS check

You will probably have heard of Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks before. However, it isn’t easy to know exactly what they entail if you have never had one done. They are often essential for many jobs, and it can be incredibly valuable to have one ready for your future employers.

DBS Checks

A DBS check (previously known as CRB, or criminal record check) allows potential employers to check your background and determine if you will be a suitable person to work for them. The Disclosure and Barring Service carries out DBS checks for the whole of the UK. 

DBS also handles and updates the adults’ and children’s barred lists and decides who should be included on these lists and barred from engaging in a particular activity.

Several jobs require candidates to complete a DBS check, including:

  • Teachers
  • Medical professionals 
  • Foster carers
  • Social workers 
  • Solicitors 
  • Veterinary surgeons 
  • Accountants 

DBS checks may also be necessary for those who handle sensitive data, such as those with access to medical or adoption records.

There are four types of DBS checks: 

  • Basic DBS check
  • Standard DBS check
  • Enhanced DBS check
  • Enhanced with barred list(s) DBS check

After a DBS check is completed, a certificate is issued to the individual, which employers can then see. Although DBS checks do not expire, they are only accurate on the date they are carried out, and it is up to new employers to carry out updated DBS checks. 

All DBS checks are free for volunteers and are required for voluntary roles where the person will be working with children or vulnerable adults.

Basic DBS Check

A basic DBS check is the lowest form of check. It can be done for any purpose, including employment. The certificate will detail any unspent convictions and conditional cautions. Anyone can apply for a basic check directly to DBS, or an employer can apply for a basic review on an individual’s behalf.

DBS check

Standard DBS Check

A standard DBS check is suitable for many roles and takes approximately fourteen days to complete. The certificate will contain details of both spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands, and final warnings held on the Police National Computer.

People cannot apply for a standard DBS check by themselves. The employer must request a standard check on their behalf and must pay for it as well. 

Enhanced DBS Check

An enhanced DBS check contains the same information as a standard check but also has information on local police records that may be relevant to the job applied for. It is most suitable for people who are working with children or adults in healthcare or personal care professions. It is also suitable for taxi licence applications or those working in the Gambling Commission.

People cannot apply for an enhanced DBS check by themselves. Instead, an organisation has to apply on their behalf, and they will also pay for the check to be carried out.

Enhanced with Barred Lists DBS Check

An enhanced with barred lists DBS check contains the same information as an enhanced DBS check but will also examine the children and adults barred lists to see if the applicant has been banned from working with children or vulnerable adults. As with an enhanced DBS check, it is suitable for people working with children or adults in healthcare or personal care professions.

Protected Convictions

Some convictions may be protected on a DBS check so that they do not appear, no matter what form of check is completed. These offences may vary, though several convictions will always appear on your DBS check, no matter what. These include:

  • Grievous bodily harm (GBH)
  • Offences relating to supplying drugs 
  • Sexual offences 
  • Safeguarding offences

Cautions can appear on DBS checks, but this is not standard in every case. Cautions will not appear if the individual was under 18 when they received it and two years have passed since it was issued, or if they were issued after the age of 18 and over six years have passed.

Why Do You Need a DBS Check?

Although not every profession requires a DBS check, more employers and recruiters are beginning to require one. If a job requires a DBS check, they must pay for it – in fact, an individual cannot get a standard or enhanced DBS check on their own. 

Individuals can obtain a basic DBS check upon request, but this lacks the detail included in a standard and enhanced DBS check. However, employers may still complete their own checks during the hiring process, so completing a basic check yourself may not be necessary.

DBS check

DBS checks are used to allow employers to check the criminal histories of their prospective employees. There are four types of DBS checks, but individuals can only request a basic one for themselves – employers have to request the other three types. DBS checks are becoming increasingly common, and it is not unusual for companies to ask for one before commencing employment.

The Author…


Jane Kisnica

Marketing Assistant, Oyster Partnership

Jane joined Oyster Partnership in November 2017 as a receptionist. She started showing her artistic flair and enthusiasm for all things marketing soon after joining the business. Since then she has worked hard and built her way up from being a receptionist to running the marketing department at Oyster Partnership.


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