A Handy Guide to the DBS

Formerly known as the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB), the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) helps employers investigate potential staff members’ criminal history so they can determine whether they’re suitable for a role.

Where safeguarding is an issue within an organisation and a role requires an individual to work with children or vulnerable adults, a DBS check will probably be required.

Here’s our handy guide to the DBS.

Handy guide to the DBS

Where does the DBS apply?

The DBS applies in England and Wales only, as Scotland has its own system under Disclosure Scotland and Northern Ireland under AccessNI.

What is a DBS check?

A DBS check is a vetting system which will show whether the applicant has a criminal history. It can also reveal other information held by the police which may be important for potential employers to know.

Can a DBS check expire?

A DBS check can only truly be accurate on the day it was issued because there’s no official expiration for a certificate.

We would suggest that DBS checks are carried out routinely on new employees, unless the applicant has signed up to the DBS Update Service. This means any live information can be accessed by an employer on an individual who has opted in.

Are there different types of check?

There are four different levels of check: basic, standard, enhanced and enhanced with barred lists.

The basic check will show only unspent convictions.

The standard check will reveal any spent and unspent convictions, cautions or reprimands.

The enhanced check will reveal the same as the standard check, as well as any relevant information held by local police.

The enhanced with barred lists check will show whether the applicant has been banned from working with children or vulnerable adults.

Who needs a DBS check?

Anyone who will work with volunteers, children or vulnerable adults will normally be asked to undergo a DBS check. An employer can only ask for a barred list check for specific roles – it’s a criminal offence to ask for one when it’s not needed.

What is needed to apply for a DBS check?

Applicants need to be able to provide details of all addresses they’ve lived at for the last five years, a copy of either a valid passport, driving licence or birth certificate, and a copy of a utility bill or bank statement to confirm the applicant’s current address.


For fast, efficient DBS check results, CRB Check Online offers the perfect solution. Our simple online system means the applicant’s details only need to be added once, and we take care of the rest. For more information, get in touch today.