What is a DBS Check?

What is a DBS Check?

If you’ve ever asked yourself that question, you’re not alone. You may have heard of them, you may even know a little bit about them, but if you’ve ever found yourself wanting to know more then you’ve come to the right place.

Here’s our beginner’s guide to DBS Checks.

what is a dbs check

What does DBS stand for?


First things first: what does the acronym stand for?

DBS stands for Disclosure and Barring Service, which is the organisation that processes and issues DBS Checks.


What is a DBS Check?


Next, the all-important question: what IS a DBS Check?

A DBS Check is a criminal record check. As part of obtaining a DBS Check, the DBS will look into your criminal history and issue a certificate detailing the result.

There are three different levels of DBS Check: Basic, Standard and Enhanced. Each level reveals different information about your criminal history. There may be information still disclosed on an enhanced DBS Check even if you don’t have a criminal record.

The standard and enhanced levels each have different eligibility requirements. If your role doesn’t meet the requirements for a particular level, you won’t be able to have that type of check.


Basic DBS Check


A Basic DBS Check is the lowest level available. It will show whether you have any unspent convictions or cautions.

There are no eligibility requirements for a Basic DBS Check. Anyone can have one, as long as they’re aged 16 or over.

This is the only type of DBS Check that individuals can apply for themselves. For Standard and Enhanced Checks, an employer must apply on their employee’s behalf.


Standard DBS Check


A Standard DBS Check will show whether you have any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or final warnings.

To be eligible for a Standard DBS Check, your role needs to be listed in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975.

This piece of legislation is complicated, but essentially it contains a list of roles, professions and activities that require a Standard DBS Check. The roles in the list generally come with a high level of responsibility. Some examples include:

  • Barristers and solicitors
  • Chartered accountants
  • Football stewards
  • Members of the Master Locksmiths Association
  • Veterinary surgeons

For the full list, check out the Standard DBS Check eligibility guide.


Enhanced DBS Check


An Enhanced DBS Check will show whether you have any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or final warnings, and will also show any relevant information held by your local police force.

To be eligible for an Enhanced DBS Check, your role must be listed in the ROA and the Police Act 1997 or Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) regulations.

Again, these pieces of legislation are a bit of a slog to get through, so to simplify – most of the roles that are eligible for an Enhanced Check involve working with children or vulnerable adults (although there are a few exceptions).

The eligible roles are divided into three categories: Adult Workforce, Child Workforce and Other Workforce.


Barred list checks


Some Enhanced Checks also include a barred list check.

The barred lists are two lists maintained by the DBS. One is a list of people who have been barred from working with children, the other of people who have been barred from working with vulnerable adults.

If your role involves ‘regulated activity’ with children and/or vulnerable adults, you’ll be eligible for a barred list check along with your Enhanced DBS Check.

Regulated activity is a term used by the DBS to describe a specific list of roles, professions and activities involving contact with children and/or vulnerable adults. Some examples include:

  • Healthcare professionals
  • Social workers
  • Anyone who frequently teaches, trains or instructs children
  • Anyone who frequently provides advice or guidance to children relating to their emotional, educational or physical wellbeing

If you have a barred list check, your name will be checked against the children’s and/or adults’ barred list (depending on your role). If you have been barred, you’ll be unable to take on the role as it would be against the law.

Any employer who is looking to employ someone who is going to work in regulated activity must legally ensure that the individual is not barred from working with the vulnerable group in question. Equally, it is against the law for an individual who is barred from working with either children or vulnerable adults to seek a job working in regulated activity with them.


How do I apply for a DBS Check?


If you’re having a Standard or Enhanced DBS Check, your employer will apply on your behalf. You’ll need to provide some personal details, including a full five-year address history, and some documents to prove your identity.

If you’re having a Basic Check, your employer may apply for you or you can apply directly yourself.

If you’re an employer, you can start requesting DBS Checks via our online system today. Registration is quick, simple and free – you’ll only pay for the checks you need. Applications take as little as five minutes, and we usually complete checks within 48 hours.


What is a DBS Check? To conclude…

So, what is a DBS Check? We hope our beginner’s guide has answered your questions but if you want to know more, feel free to get in touch with us – our friendly team is always happy to help.