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Be aware of what type of criminal record check is being done for the job you’re applying for

Over the last few weeks our helpline has been contacted by several people enquiring about what’s likely to be included in their Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks.

People will often refer to their convictions as being ‘spent’ without appreciating that jobs requiring standard or enhanced DBS checks are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and that these DBS certificates will disclose both spent and unspent convictions and cautions.

However, since May 2013, many people have been able to benefit from having cautions and a conviction filtered from their DBS certificates which means they no longer need to disclose it.

We often hear from people who require DBS checks as part of an employer’s recruitment process. They don’t disclose their convictions because they’re spent and they don’t realise they have to. If their cautions or conviction is not eligible for filtering then, when their DBS certificate comes back, it will disclose their criminal record and the individual will then need to explain it to the employer. This can often leave employers feeling that they’ve been misled especially, if they’d previously asked the applicant to disclose, and they may decide to withdraw the job offer.

So, it’s important that you’re aware of what’s on your criminal record and that you know what level of check is being done by an employer for a job. Standard or enhanced checks can only be requested for certain job roles, but any job role could potentially involve a basic disclosure.

Knowing the type of check that’s being done for the role you’re applying for should prevent you from giving too much or not enough information to the employer. Too much information could mean that an employer decides not to proceed with your application. Too little information may lead to employers questioning why you didn’t disclose and you feeling as though you’ve been dishonest. They may decide not to offer you a role or worse dismiss you if you’ve already started the job.

Employers don’t always make it obvious – sometimes, you need to do a bit of digging. Ultimately, though, it’s important to be aware of the type of check that’s being done so that you can be clear and confident about what, if anything, you need to disclose.

For more information

For practical self-help information – For a more detailed guide on filtering, click here.

For frequently asked questions on filtering, click here

To discuss this issue with others – Read and share your experiences of filtering on our online forum.

Questions – If you have any questions about this, you can contact our helpline


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Photo of Head of Advice, Debbie Sadler
Debbie Sadler
Head of Advice

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