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Unlocking Criminal Record Checks – A guide for people with a criminal record

On a daily basis, our helpline gets calls from people who are applying for work and don’t know where they stand because of criminal record checks that (increasingly) employers are carrying out.

A couple of years ago, we approached the DBS (Disclosure & Barring Service – known as the CRB at that time) and raised this as a matter of concern. They agreed to support the production of a guide, specifically for people with a criminal record, designed to explain in detail the criminal record checking process, with particular focus on the specific issues that people with a criminal record might face.

The result is a detailed guide which was written by Unlock and which was circulated by the DBS (it was announced in DBS News September 2013). Download the guide here or click the image below.



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    1. Hi

      Providing your drink driving conviction did not result in a prison sentence of over 4 years then it would now be considered ‘spent’ under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and would not need to be disclosed to an insurance company.

      Best wishes


    2. Hi
      I live in the Republic of Ireland, Will a conviction I have show on a dbs check. I have never lived in the UK but part of a PGCE degree they require a dbs check to be completed. Can this be done on a non UKGRS resident.

  1. 9 years ago I was convicted of shoplifting, is the conviction still valid? the punishments were several weeks apart….. can i come to england?

    1. Hi Corey

      If you are applying for a job which is covered by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) and which requires a basic DBS check then you don’t need to disclose your driving conviction as it is considered ‘spent’.

      If you are applying for a job which is exempt from the ROA and which would require either a standard or enhanced DBS check then you would need to disclose the conviction until 2026.

      Best wishes


  2. Hi

    I was convicted of drink driving in March 2014. I was suspended from driving for 18 months but I did the drink driving course and it was reduced to 13 and a half months.

    Is my convistion spent now?


    1. Hi Steven

      I can confirm that your conviction for drink driving is now considered spent and would no longer appear on a basic Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. It wouldn’t need to be disclosed when applying for the majority of jobs.

      If you are applying for any role which requires a standard or enhanced DBS check then your conviction would stay on these types of check until March 2025.

      Best wishes


    1. Hi Arnold

      It’s likely that your conviction from 2005 is now considered ‘spent’ and would no longer appear on your basic DBS certificate. In order to be absolutely sure, you can use Unlock’s online disclosure calculator ( All you’ll need is the date of your conviction together with details of the sentence or disposal you received.

      Best wishes


  3. Hi please help me, I want to know if my criminal record in Turkey will show on my passport, even though the criminal case never took place, however I was sentenced to prison in the meantime of the investigation.

  4. Hi, I received a fine for assault in an emergency worker and was wondering if it will become spent or if it permanently remains on my dbs

    1. Hi Martin

      A conviction which results in a fine would become spent after 1 year. The spent date is based upon the sentence or disposal you received, not on the offence you were convicted of.

      Best wishes


  5. Hi ,

    I was given a fine back in 2020 in magaluf for ‘balconeering’ which I lost the slip. I’m going back to Spain this year , is there a way I can check I will be stopped at passport control?

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Photo of Helpline lead, Debbie Sadler
Debbie Sadler
Helpline lead

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