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Government announces date when planned changes to criminal record disclosure rules will take effect

The government has today confirmed that planned changes to the rules on filtering will come into effect on Saturday 28 November. After years of campaigning for change, and after many months of holding the government to account on the implementation of the changes, the news was confirmed in a letter to Unlock from the Home Office yesterday.

The changes are simple; for jobs and voluntary roles that involve a standard or enhanced criminal record check issued by the Disclosure and Barring Service, childhood cautions will no longer be disclosed, and a rule that meant someone with more than one conviction had all their convictions disclosed, regardless of offence or length of time, has been abolished. For people who have been held back from employment and volunteering to help others because of mistakes they made years ago, the impact will be life changing.

These changes came as a result of a Supreme Court ruling in January 2019 which Unlock intervened in and, according to Home Office data, these changes will mean around 45,000 people a year will now have a clear standard or enhanced DBS check. One in five people who under the old rules would have their criminal records disclosed, will now have a clear certificate.

Some practical points

It’s important to remember that certificates applied for prior to 28 November 2020 will be produced in accordance with the current disclosure rules. Therefore, if you need to apply for a standard or enhanced DBS and you know that you will benefit from the changes being made, we would recommend delaying your application to the DBS until after 28 November.

If you subscribe to the DBS Update Service any cautions or convictions removed from your standard or enhanced certificate after 28 November would not result in a status change. Status changes are only prompted when new information is added, or an offence is changed or amended, whereas an offence which is filtered would result in information being removed. If you wish to have a new DBS certificate which does not disclose your newly removed cautions/convictions, you will need to apply for a new DBS check.

It is important that individuals with a criminal record understand the impact of these changes and we will be publishing updated guidance prior to the changes coming into effect.


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

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