What to do if a DBS Check reveals a Criminal Record

Employers have the right to request criminal record checks on their employees or potential employees as a measure to safeguard themselves, their business, other employees and their customers or service users.

A DBS check is devised to highlight any criminal history that people may have. But having committed a crime in the distant past doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a bad person and never to be trusted. It is thought that about 1 in 4 people have something on their criminal record, most of which will be something that happened many years ago, and they are perfectly trustworthy and there is no reason why they shouldn’t be employed.

What to do if a DBS Check reveals a Criminal Record

Enhanced Checks

According to the CRB, about 92{005329dfb7bee03ab27e34e29b1b0e29a2462648c7188fd9e98135c32f2f6d5e} of check requests are at the Enhanced level. This means that not only is information about criminal convictions, cautions, and reprimands given, but also ‘soft information’ such as that from local Police, including allegations which never led to a conviction. For those who are applying to work with children or vulnerable adults, this information can be essential in keeping them protected, but for other jobs, it might not be so important.

So if you are an employer, what should you do if a DBS check for a potential employee comes back with a criminal record?


The first thing that you should do is look at the details. Check the record, what happened and when it happened, and its severity. It may be something completely irrelevant which happened years ago – or likewise it may a show stopper which happened recently.

From this information you can either make a decision about whether the person is the appropriate person for the job – or not. What is important is that you don’t rule somebody out straight away. If we were all always judged by mistakes that we have made in the past, the world would hardly move forward.

The ‘Rehabilitation of Offenders Act’ states that you cannot be discriminated against (i.e. NOT offered employment) if your crime is irrelevant to the job being offered.


If you have had a DBS check made, and it has revealed something in your history which you believe to be a mistake, you have the right to appeal it. Mistakes do happen, and if you think that an error was made, it is important that you get in touch with the DBS as soon as you can – within 3 months. You will need to fill in a DBS Certificate Dispute form.

The function of a DBS check is to ensure that inappropriate people aren’t put into positions which could put the safety of employees, businesses, customers and service users at risk. This is why employers need to demonstrate a certain degree of common sense when using this information.

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act is in place to protect people from this kind of discrimination, and, ultimately ensure that the best person for the job, gets the job, regardless of the mistakes that they have made in their past.

For more information about what to do if a DBS check reveals a criminal record, get in touch with us today.