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Tag: Criminal record checks for employment

Working in the healthcare sector with a criminal record

Approximately 1 in 10 of the working population work in the health and social care sector with the NHS being the biggest employer in the UK with 1.7 million staff.

With increasing pressure on the NHS and a constant demand for more skilled workers, maybe a career in healthcare is something you are considering?

Individuals working in healthcare will often need to register with a regulatory body, for example the General Medical Council or the Nursing and Midwifery Council. For some the existence of a criminal record will present barriers which will need to be addressed even before you start applying for jobs.

We’ve produced some new information on working in the healthcare sector which pulls together some of the roles set out in our A-Z list of common occupations and professions. It also highlights the possible impact of a criminal record and how the disclosure of a criminal record may be dealt with.

More information

Moving on: Criminal record checks for employment

This month we’ve written a further article for Insidetime ‘Through the Gate’ Section which provides information on the type of criminal record checks that employers carry out and what is disclosed on them.

As your release date gets closer, understandably your thoughts will probably be turning to employment. For anybody with a criminal record, the most worrying part of the whole recruitment process can be the thought of having a criminal record check.

It’s important to know as much as possible about the types of criminal record checks that an employer may do, as this will usually determine what you’ll need to disclose.

To be clear, there are 3 main types of criminal record check – basic, standard and enhanced. They are all carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and what type of check an employer can do will depend on the job you’re applying for.

What do criminal record checks disclose?

Irrespective of the type of check that’s being carried out, all certificates follow the same format. For each conviction listed the certificate will state the court you were convicted in, the date of conviction, the offence and the sentence or disposal you received. It will only give factual information; it doesn’t give a description of the offence or the circumstances surrounding it – that’s down to you to do as part of your disclosure to an employer.

Basic disclosure

Approximately 28% of all criminal record checks carried out are basic. They are commonly used for jobs which are covered by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and include office work, jobs in the hospitality industry or retail and many government or civil service roles. A basic certificate will only disclose unspent convictions.

On leaving prison your conviction will be deemed unspent and will appear on your basic disclosure certificate. However, unless you’ve received a prison sentence of over 4 years, then your conviction will be spent at some time in the future. Once spent, it will no longer appear on your basic certificate and you can answer “No” if an employer asks you about unspent convictions.

For many people this will be a significant stage in their journey through the criminal justice system; and for anybody who has found it difficult to find a job due to their conviction, the world of work will open up.

Unlike the other criminal record checks, you can apply online for your own basic check. This can be a really good way of seeing exactly what an employer will see.

Standard and enhanced disclosures

Standard and enhanced checks are used by employers recruiting for certain positions which are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.

Standard checks are carried out for those wishing to work in the security industry or as accountants. Enhanced checks are usually for roles which will have frequent and intensive contact with children or vulnerable adults, for example teachers, nurses or social workers.

Standard and enhanced checks disclose both spent and unspent convictions and cautions. Enhanced disclosures will also include any relevant information which is held by local police, for example allegations or acquittals. As part of the enhanced disclosure a check of the barred list will also be carried out to ascertain whether you’ve been disqualified from working with certain groups.

Will I be refused a job if my certificate isn’t ‘clean’?

It’s really important to remember that just having information disclosed on your certificate doesn’t mean that an employer won’t employ you. Criminal record checks can be used by employers to verify information you’ve already disclosed or to provide them with a formal record of your conviction.

However, if you fail to disclose when asked and your conviction subsequently appears on your criminal record certificate, then employers will often assume that you’ve been dishonest (even if it’s a genuine mistake). When this happens, you may find your job offer being withdrawn or you get sacked if you’ve already started work.

What should I do if I think an employer is carrying out the wrong level of criminal record check?

The way legislation is structured means that all job roles are eligible for a basic check but will only be eligible for a standard or enhanced if it meets certain requirements. If you don’t feel that an employer is entitled to apply for a standard or enhanced check then the DBS has a process to challenge this. However, it’s only worth challenging if you have spent convictions. If all your convictions are unspent, even if you are successful in your challenge, the employer would still be entitled to carry out a basic check and your unspent convictions would still come to light.

Your right to be forgotten

Think back to the last time you applied for a job. Did the application include a tick box question on criminal convictions?

Last year Unlock published research showing that three quarters of national employers still ask about criminal records on application forms. This can be off-putting to applicants with convictions and we don’t think it’s necessary for employers to ask this question so early on. Employers are responsible for deleting unnecessary information – whether its from applicants who don’t take the job, or employees who have left. This post looks at how you can request that your data is deleted when it’s no longer needed.

Deleting criminal records information

Where an organisation (known as a data controller) wants to process data about criminal convictions, they must have a lawful basis for doing so under Article 6 and a condition of processing under Article 10 of the GDPR. As a result of GDPR, organisations need to consider what information is necessary, and when. Here we’ll focus on employers but the same rules apply to any organisation that collects personal data – housing providers, colleges or universities, insurance companies. If you’re being asked to disclose information about convictions, you should be able to access the employer’s privacy policy which will tell you how long your data will be retained. Employers should delete information within these timescales.

However, a CIPHR survey found that this is not always happening as it should. 137 HR professionals were asked if they had published retention periods, and whether data was being deleted at the right time.  83% had published retention periods for data, but only 69% had actually deleted the information as they should have. More than half used paper notes or calendar reminders rather than automated systems to let them know when data should be deleted.

Where data protection breaches are proven, enforcement action could have serious consequences for organisations. The 30% of HR teams who admitted they had not deleted data as required were exposing their companies to significant financial penalties – the maximum fine now is £17.5 million or 4% of the company’s annual global turnover (whichever is higher).

What can you do?

The GDPR gives individuals rights over their data – we recently published guidance for individuals on this. When your information is no longer necessary, it should be securely destroyed. This is known as the right to erasure or the ‘right to be forgotten’ and means you have more power to hold data controllers to account. Where might you want to use your right to erasure?

If you have:

  • ticked the box on an application form for a job, for housing or a place at college or university
  • disclosed more detailed information during the recruitment process
  • provided your employer with a DBS certificate
  • disclosed an unspent conviction that has become spent
  • left a job where your criminal record information was collected during recruitment.

If any of these apply to you, consider asking the data controller to #deletemydata. You can download a template here.

Already done this? Tell us about it.

If they are unable or unwilling to resolve your concern, you can raise the matter with the Information Commissioners Office within three months of your last meaningful contact with them.

Problems with manual DBS certificates and the DBS update service – has this happened to you?

In their guidance to employers for the update service, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) state that:

An employer can check someone’s DBS certificate status online and get a result straight away”

This ability to check someone’s criminal record quickly and start them working almost immediately is seen as a benefit to employers. Many employers have started to ask that anybody seeking work in roles that involve standard or enhanced DBS checks to sign up to the update service as part of their recruitment process.

However, we’ve recently been made aware of issues arising with the update service if you’re only able to get what’s called a “manual certificate”.

Manual certificates are usually produced by the DBS when technical issues occur during the retrieval of data from the Police National Computer (PNC). We’ve learnt that this is an issue that seems to specifically impact on people with convictions, and usually where someone has appealed a sentence or conviction.

As it stands, if you have a manual certificate you won’t be able to use it to join the update service. We’ve raised this as an issue and the DBS are working on improving the system and can write to any employer that insists on applicants joining the update service, explaining the reasons why this may not be possible. However, in our opinion, this could potentially give rise to suspicion amongst employers.

A recent Freedom of Information request that we did, covering the financial year 2016/17, showed that in total 4,335,385 standard and enhanced checks were carried out of which, 1,161 were produced manually. The DBS have confirmed that all 1,161 certificates contained some PNC information.

Although the numbers may appear small, potentially 1,161 people are unable to join the update service and could be prevented from working for those employers who use it as a mandatory part of their recruitment process.

We’d like to hear from anybody that has experienced difficulties in joining the update service with a manual certificate, especially where it’s stopped you from applying for jobs with certain employers. Please email your details to

For more information

  1. For practical self-help information – More information is available on our DBS update service section
  2. Discuss this with others – Read and share your experiences on our online forum
  3. Questions – If you have any questions about this, you can contact our helpline.

Thinking of becoming a taxi driver? Will your criminal record stop you?

Following our advice post last year on applying for a taxi licence, our helpline continues to receive many enquiries relating to this and so we have produced some new information on applying for a taxi licence with a criminal record.

Given the initial cost of applying for the licence, possible problems in getting taxi insurance, and with concerns around having an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check, people with criminal records are often put off from applying for a taxi licence. However, a criminal record will not automatically stop you from getting a licence and like any job, your ability to disclose your criminal record effectively can make all the difference.

A Freedom of Information request by the BBC earlier this year revealed that across six councils in the north-west, 300 people with convictions have been granted licences since 2012. Blackpool Council stated that when reviewing licence applications they considered factors including the age of the conviction, the sentence/disposal imposed and the applicants conduct since the offence. They had granted licences to many drivers with convictions for theft, burglary and criminal damage.

For more information

  1. For practical self-help information – More information is available on applying for a taxi licence and disclosing criminal records to employers 
  2. Questions – If you have any questions about this you can contact our helpline

When would you need to disclose your spent conviction to an employer?

Any organisation can apply for a basic criminal record check on members of their staff which will disclose unspent cautions/convictions. However, there are some jobs which would require you to disclose spent convictions.

Many people are aware that if they’re applying for a job which involves working with children or vulnerable adults, then they’ll need to disclose their spent convictions, unless they’re eligible for filtering. However, there are lots of other jobs where you’ll need to disclose your spent convictions which probably wouldn’t be immediately obvious.

Some of these jobs only ask that you disclose your conviction when entering the profession. Once you’ve qualified and start applying for jobs, employers will only be able to ask you about your unspent convictions and can only carry out a basic criminal record check. For example:

So, what other jobs might need you to disclose your spent conviction? The jobs we’ve listed below appear on the DBS exemptions list and will usually require you to undertake a standard Disclosure and Barring Service check:

  • Traffic wardens
  • Football stewards
  • Locksmiths who want to become members of the Master Locksmith’s Association
  • Mortgage brokers who have to be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority
  • Doorman/bouncers who require an SIA Licence.

If your employer is asking you to disclose your spent convictions or wants to carry out a check which you don’t believe they are entitled to do, then we’d like to hear from you. Find our further information here.

For more information

  1. For practical self-help information – More information is available on our criminal record checks for employment page
  2. Our policy work – Read about the policy work we’re doing on stopping unlawful/ineligible DBS checks
  3. Questions – If you have any questions about this you can contact our helpline.

Has an employer wrongly checked your official criminal record? – Get in touch

As part of our Fair Access to Employment project we’re looking for examples of employers who have carried out inappropriate levels of criminal record checks. We’re gathering this information to feed into our legal strategy which aims to put an end to unlawful criminal record checks.

We’re especially keen to hear from anyone who believes that an employer has carried out a standard or enhanced criminal record check for a role that wasn’t eligible for that level of check and that employer has subsequently taken into account spent convictions or other information from the police that they were not entitled to see (so called “soft intelligence” or “local police information”).

The types of information we’re looking for

We’re interested to hear examples where:

  1. Employers have carried out a standard or enhanced criminal record check which revealed spent convictions or “soft intelligence” or both, AND
  2. The role in question was not eligible for that level of check (i.e. a standard check was carried out when the role was only eligible for a basic check, or an enhanced check was carried out when the role was only eligible for a standard or basic check).

We will review all of the evidence and advise you about your options, including potentially participating in legal action against the employer or umbrella body for submitting an ineligible check or against the DBS for processing an ineligible check.

For more information see our website

Do you live in Scotland? Do you have a criminal record? Can you help?

Disclosure Scotland is currently reviewing it’s Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme and is looking for views.

We thought it was a great opportunity for people with a criminal record in Scotland to have their say and potentially make a difference to important legislation that will have a real impact on people with a criminal record that live in Scotland.

There’s more information about the review in its Terms of Reference.

The best way to help is to complete the online survey, which will take about 10 minutes. You can also send them an email if you’d like to get more involved.

An overview of the Disclosure and Barring Service

We’ve produced some new information giving an overview of the DBS. This includes what it’s responsibilities are, the options open to you if you wish to appeal something that’s been disclosed on your standard or enhanced DBS certificate, details about how to stop ineligibile checks and details about the DBS complaints escalation process.

For more information

  1. For practical self-help information – More information is available on our criminal record checks for employment
  2. Questions – If you have any questions about this, you can contact theHelpline
  3. Policy – Read about the policy work we’re doing on this issue – Stopping unlawful/ineligible DBS checks


Are you a delivery driver? Has your employer asked you to do an enhanced DBS check?

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve had several enquiries from delivery drivers who’ve been asked by their employers to agree to an enhanced DBS check because they will be delivering to schools/care homes. The reasons often given by the employer for these types of check is that drivers will be delivering on a regular basis to these establishments and may have the opportunity to have unsupervised contact with a child or vulnerable adult. We’ve looked into this issue and sought further guidance from the Disclosure and Barring Service.

The criteria for an enhanced DBS check with a barring list check would be for those roles which involve regulated activity, for example healthcare professionals, social workers, teachers etc.

With regard to regulated activity and driving, the DBS state that the following roles would be considered to be regulated activity and would require an enhanced DBS check with barring:

Roles relating to adults

  • Any driver or any assistant who transports an adult (including any carer) because of their age, illness or disability to or from places where they have received, or will be receiving, healthcare, relevant personal care or relevant social work for the purpose of enabling the adult to receive that healthcare, personal care of social work.
  • Patient Transport Service drivers or assistants; Ambulance Technicians or Emergency Care Assistants.

Roles relating to children

  • Driving a vehicle being used for conveying children and their carers or supervisors under a contract or similar arrangement when carried out by the same person frequently.

As can be seen from the above, a delivery driver does not fall under regulated activity. The majority of schools maintain appropriate safeguards by asking that deliveries avoid playtime and lunch periods when children might be generally unsupervised around the school grounds. Most schools would ensure that they provide someone appropriate to supervise a driver as he carries out his delivery duties.

The frequency of visits applies only to ‘teaching, training, caring or supervising’ children and are not duties that would be undertaken by a delivery driver. The driver’s role is to deliver goods not take responsibility for children in the school.

We’ve set out below a snapshot of the advice we received from the DBS.

Snapshot of DBS advice

Therefore we would suggest that if your employer asks you to have an enhanced DBS with barring check, you should challenge this through the DBS.

For more information

  1. For practical self-help information – More information is available on our criminal record checks for employment section
  2. Questions – If you have any questions about this, you can contact theHelpline
  3. Policy – Read about the policy work we’re doing on this issue – Stopping unlawful/ineligible DBS checks

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