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Basic DBS checks are coming soon – find out more

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is introducing basic criminal record checks for people in England & Wales. This replaces the service previously provided by Disclosure Scotland.

This is a significant development for both people with criminal records and employers in England & Wales, so we’ve developed a new information page dedicated to basic DBS checks as a one-stop-shop for the latest information, advice and updates. It’s been written primarily for people with convictions, but with employers and others in mind too, covering things like:

  1. How to get a basic check
  2. Should the check be sent to the applicant or the employer?
  3. What are eCertificates & eResults?
  4. Our advice for individuals
  5. Our advice to employers

Basic checks are a type of criminal record check that can be used by employers and other organisations, for example when they are recruiting staff. They can also be used by insurance companies in validating claims. Basic checks show any ‘unspent’ criminal records (as defined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974). Once a conviction or caution is ‘spent’, it no longer shows on a basic check.

Why is this important?

  1. It’s been a long time coming – The introduction of basic checks has been in the business plan of the DBS since 2002 (back when it was the CRB, the Criminal Records Bureau).
  2. It’s highly likely to mean an overall increase in criminal record checks – The DBS is anticipating around 1.7 million basic checks in the first year. This compares to just under 1.2 million in 2015/16 when it was done by Disclosure Scotland.
  3. It means criminal record checks will be available online – The basic DBS check will be available in both paper form and online. The setting up of an online account (for both applicants and organisations) will allow access to what are referred to as “eCertificates”.
  4. It makes the type of DBS check being done even more important – Employers often refer to a role “involving a DBS check”. Up until now, reference to “a DBS check” could be taken as code for meaning a standard or enhanced check, which meant the disclosure of cautions and convictions, even once spent. Now, with the DBS doing a basic level check, it’s even more important that employers explain what type of check a specific role involves to make sure that applicants clearly understand what they need to disclose.
  5. It’ll hopefully reduce ineligible checks – We’ve been cautiously encouraging the introduction of basic checks as a key part of how to reduce the numbers of employers carrying out levels of checks (i.e. standard or enhanced checks) for roles that are not eligible for them.

What is happening and when?

From 1st September 2017, the DBS will begin processing basic criminal record check applications.

There will be a transition phase between 1st September and 31st December, where basic checks will still be available from Disclosure Scotland too. After the 31st December 2017, basic checks will no longer be available to applicants in England & Wales from Disclosure Scotland.

To start with, the basic check service from DBS will be open to a small number of large registered organisations. This will be followed by an online process for individuals, expected to be from 1st January 2018.

Disclosure Scotland will continue to process basic check applications for people in Scotland.

We’re waiting for more information from the DBS about the exact timescales, and once we have these, they’ll be on this page.

We’re expecting the DBS to publish its own online guidance on basic checks soon. Once it’s available, we’ll link to it from here.

For more information

The information in this post is likely to develop over time. For more information, and the latest details, visit our information page on basic DBS checks.

This was originally published as an update on our information site


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

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