DBS or CRB Check: What’s the Difference?

DBS or CRB check?

DBS or CRB check?

You may hear many people refer to DBS or CRB checks when discussing criminal record checks. But what do these terms mean? And what is the difference, if any?

For an overview of the different types of checks, and what’s best for you, we’ve created this simple guide to the different terms.

DBS or CRB check?

Put simply, there is no great difference between these two checks. They simply refer to different criminal record checks that have been offered over the last fifteen years or so.

A CRB check refers to a Criminal Records Bureau check, which was launched in 2002. These checks were in operation until the process was streamlined with the introduction of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) in 2012.

The term ‘CRB check’ is still used commonly today for criminal record checks, and many people may still have a CRB certificate. However, these checks can no longer be requested in their previous format.

A DBS check refers to a check offered by the DBS, a Home Office sponsored non-departmental public body. The DBS was created in 2012 through a merge of the Criminal Records Bureau and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).

The merge was designed to streamline the process, so that the DBS now issues a criminal record check alongside a check against the children’s or vulnerable adults’ barred list, as needed. Previously, this process had been done separately between the CRB and ISA.

This new format of check means criminal record information and barred list checks are included as part of the same certificate.

How does this affect the different checks?

The changes haven’t affected checks greatly. It’s no longer possible to apply for a CRB check, but the same information will largely still be included in a DBS check.

As part of the introduction of the DBS, some legislation regarding eligibility for the higher-level checks has been amended, and is continually updated. To confirm whether you or an employee is eligible for a higher level of DBS check, you can use the DBS eligibility tool.

CRB checks are still technically valid as, like DBS checks, they have no official expiry date. However, it’s at the employer’s discretion how regularly they want new checks to be completed. They may have to follow guidance from a regulatory body in terms of how often new checks should be requested.

In addition, legislation may have been updated which has affected an individual’s eligibility for a check. For instance, an employer may no longer be entitled to view a CRB certificate if legislation has altered the individual’s eligibility for a higher level of check. To confirm any legislative issues, we recommend contacting the Disclosure and Barring Service.

What’s changed for barred list checks?

As highlighted above, the formation of the DBS in 2012 meant that it took over control of the barred lists from the ISA.

This means that enhanced DBS checks (the highest level) can now include barred list checks as part of the same application, if the applicant is eligible for these checks.

If an applicant is engaging in regulated activity with children and/or vulnerable adults, then they’ll be eligible for a check against the children’s and/or vulnerable adults’ barred list, as applicable.

This check involves a cross-reference of their information against the list/s of people barred from working with these vulnerable groups.

DBS Adult First check

The DBS Adult First check was introduced to enable employers to do a quick check of an applicant’s information against the adults’ barred list if they will be engaging in regulated activity with vulnerable adults.

This check can only be requested whilst an enhanced DBS check is processing, and is designed to provide a quick result so that an individual can begin working (on a fully supervised basis) whilst waiting for their full DBS check to be returned.

DBS or CRB check? A summary

There’s not much difference between these two terms for a criminal record check. However, only the DBS is currently in existence.

So, if you’re wondering whether you need a DBS or CRB check, these are the key points to remember:

  • CRB checks are no longer offered. However, people still use the term to refer to criminal record checks.
  • If you’re legally eligible for a criminal record check based on your job role, it’s a DBS check that you’ll need to request – but only employers can request higher-level DBS checks.
  • Legislation has changed in the transition from CRB to DBS – check with the DBS to confirm which level of check is most suitable for your job role.

If you’d like to get started requesting DBS checks then register here – it’s free!

Any questions? Please don’t hesitate to contact us.