DBS Checks: What you need to know

When it comes to finding your dream role, some companies might ask for more than an application…

In fact, if you’re looking to work with children or vulnerable adults, you’ll need something called a DBS check to confirm you’re an eligible candidate. Not only does it help employers to decide whether you’re a good fit, it’s also a legal obligation for many jobs.

To help you understand what this involves (and whether you need one), here’s everything you need to know about DBS checks:


What is a DBS check?

A DBS check is a record of a person’s criminal convictions and cautions – carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service. It’s an essential requirement for those applying to work with children or vulnerable adults (e.g. in teaching or healthcare). You’ll also need one if you want to foster or adopt a child.


What does DBS stand for?

DBS stands for Disclosure and Barring Service, which is the name of the organisation which carries out DBS checks. The organisation was founded in 2012.  


What is a CRB check?

CRB checks are what DBS checks were previously known as, before the DBS replaced the CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) as part of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.

However, its function remains the same.


How can I get a DBS check?

As DBS checks are used to provide information for an organisation or employer – you can’t ask for your own to be carried out.

Instead, an employer, organisation, or charity will need to ask for one on your behalf.

The process is as follows:

  • An employer gets a DBS form from the DBS (or a registered umbrella body)
  • The employer gives you the form to fill out
  • You complete the form and give it back, providing documents to prove your identity
  • The employer sends all information back to the DBS (or a registered umbrella body)
  • The relevant checks are carried out
  • You receive your DBS certificate – which you can then show to the employer

If you want to get a DBS check without an organisation’s involvement, you can apply for a basic disclosure to be done through Disclosure Scotland.

However, this will only show unspent convictions – and employers will still need to complete their own checks before hiring you.


When is a DBS check needed?

Organisations can only request that their employees, job applicants, or volunteers have a DBS check carried out if they’re applying for/working in certain types of roles. These will help to determine your suitability for the job.

For example – you’ll always need a DBS check to work as a:

  • Teacher
  • Childminder
  • Social Worker
  • Medical professional
  • Foster Carer

Those working in particular settings – such as schools, nurseries, hospitals and children’s homes will also need to have a DBS check. Some roles may also require you to have a DBS check when you first enter the profession (e.g. solicitors, barristers, accountants, vets).

And, if you’re applying for a job that needs a DBS check, you’ll need to have been successful in every other aspect of your application before an employer starts the process.


How long does a DBS check last?

A DBS check never officially expires, so it will be up to an employer to decide when and if a new one is needed.

Both applicants and employers can use the DBS update service to carry out any additional checks on a DBS certificate.


How long does a DBS check take?

A DBS check will usually take around eight weeks to complete.

However, this will vary depending on the level of check you’re having carried out, whether your details are correct, and if local authorities have backlogs in processing applications.


What age do you need to be to have a DBS check?

You’ll need to be at least 16 years old to be eligible for a DBS check.


How much does a DBS check cost?

Your employer will need to pay for your DBS check.

The cost of one depends on the level they choose to carry out – with standard checks costing £26, and more in-depth checks costing £44.


What are the types of DBS checks?

There are three levels of DBS checks – with each one suited to different types of roles.

These are:

Standard – covering spent and unspent convictions, reprimands, cautions, and final warnings.

Enhanced – covering all of the above plus any relevant information held by police.

Enhanced with list checks – covering everything in the enhanced check, plus a check of the DBS barred lists.

Your employer will decide which type of check to carry out (based on the job you’ll be doing), and will then need to provide you with the details of what it involves.

What is the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act?


Can I appeal against a DBS check?

If you think the information stated in your DBS check isn’t accurate, you can appeal against it.

Whether it’s that there’s been a mistake in the criminal records provided, or your personal details are incorrect – you’ll need to report any mistakes within three months of receiving the DBS certificate.

Either you or your employer can do this (providing they’ve spoken to you first), and local authorities will then follow up to go through any next steps.


For more information on DBS checks, please visit gov.uk.



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