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Top 10 things to know about criminal records

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“Computer says no” – appealing the disclosure of my spent conviction

Having successfully had his SOPO revoked Phil was confident that his conviction was spent and wouldn’t be disclosed on his basic DBS certificate. In practice however, things were not quite so simple.


Nine year ago I entered a guilty plea for the possession of indecent images and was sentenced to a three year community order, an SOR notification requirement for 5 years and a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) for 15 years.

I complied with all the requirements expected of me and last year the police supported my application to the court to reduce the length of my SOPO to 5 years. My application was successful; SOPO revoked and off the register. I was fairly sure that as my SOPO had come to an end my conviction would be spent but I decided to apply for my own basic DBS check to get a look at what a ‘clean’ certificate would look like.

However, when I received my basic certificate there was my conviction staring back in me in black and white. I was really disappointed and so I got back in touch with the DBS to appeal the disclosure. It didn’t take long for them to tell me that my appeal was “not upheld” because my conviction wasn’t spent.

I wasn’t happy with the decision and it kept niggling away at the back of my mind, but it wasn’t until earlier this year that I decided to do some further research. It was then I came across the Unlock website and started reading articles about similar cases to mine. I learnt loads and the stuff I read seemed to support my opinion that my conviction was spent. Just to be sure that my thinking was right, I gave the Unlock helpline a ring and they confirmed my thinking – I had a spent conviction.

Armed with all the relevant paperwork, I had numerous conversations with the police and the DBS. To cut a long story short, it seemed that although my SOPO had been revoked, and my records updated on the Police National Computer it was still showing as live on the system the DBS use to run their checks. With evidence proving that my SOPO was no longer active, I was able to appeal to the DBS again.

This time my appeal was upheld and the DBS provided me with a ‘clean’ basic DBS certificate.

This is exactly the break I needed and will definitely help me when I’m applying for jobs during these challenging times.

By Phil (name changed to protect identity)

Useful links

Being brave isn’t easy but it’s key to moving forward – Standing by my husband following his conviction

Standing by a partner convicted of a sexual offence is never an easy decision to make and as Julia’s story shows, can impact on many areas of your life.


My husband Gary and I had been married for 12 years when he was convicted of a sexual offence. I had no idea that he’d been downloading and viewing indecent images of children and from the moment I found out, I went through a whole spectrum of emotions.

I had moments of intense anger towards him but I blamed myself too – why didn’t I see what was happening? Why was I so stupid? The truth is, I thought we had the perfect life; a beautiful home, wonderful holidays and fulfilling jobs.

My initial instinct was to leave him and for a while I did, staying with my mum and dad. My husband and I were both teachers, working at the same school and for a while I tried to continue as normal. However, following the police investigation most of my colleagues and many of the parents became aware of what Gary had done and although my colleagues were supportive, the parents were much less so. Going to work became unbearable and so I handed in my notice.

Although I felt let down and deceived by Gary I still loved him. I couldn’t condone what he’d done but his conviction enabled him to confront some underlying issues that he’d never spoken about. So I decided to stick with him and give our marriage another go. Little did I know that this decision was the easy part.

There’d been a lot of publicity about Gary’s conviction, not least because he was a teacher. Whilst friends, family and neighbours were happy to help me when they thought I’d left him, once they knew that I was going to stand by Gary I was treated like a leper.

We felt that the only option we had was to move away. It actually wasn’t that difficult a decision to make, neither Gary nor I had a job and my beautiful home felt tarnished because it was where Gary’s offending had taken place.

Once settled in a new area we started applying for work. Gary was barred from working with children but very quickly found a job in a warehouse. The basic salary wasn’t that great but there was plenty of opportunity to do overtime which bumped up his salary. That June I was offered a teaching job with a planned start date of September. It was great news and I began to think that we could start to move on. That was until I received my DBS certificate because right under the ‘additional information’ section the police had chosen to disclose the details of Gary’s conviction.

In the past I’d never been concerned about my DBS certificate and perhaps niavely I’d not considered that my certificate would be affected by Gary’s conviction. My first instinct was to ring the school and tell them that I wouldn’t be taking up the job offer. If I wanted to avoid having to explain Gary’s conviction that seemed the only thing to do. I picked up the phone to make the call several times but just couldn’t do it. I knew that once I’d rung, there’d be no going back and I would have accepted an end to my teaching career.

If anything, the experiences I’ve had over the last few years have made me a much stronger person. I’d done nothing wrong, it was Gary’s conviction, not mine – I needed to confront it head on and then deal with the consequences whatever they were.

And so, I made an appointment to meet with the headmistress, telling her I’d received my DBS certificate and wanted to have a chat with her.

It was an odd situation to be in. Essentially the headmistress wasn’t looking at my DBS certificate to consider my abilities as a teacher, she wasn’t even assessing the risk I posed to the children. She was judging my character and questioning why a woman who’d spent years educating and protecting children would choose to be married to a convicted sex offender. The difficulty is of course that I made the decision to stay with Gary using my heart and that’s hard to rationalise in a professional employment setting – goodness knows it was hard enough explaining to my mum and dad.

My disclosure didn’t go quite as planned and at one stage I got quite upset. Throughout my declaration the headmistress said nothing, the expression on her face remained the same (even when I was crying) but when I’d finished she said:

That was a really brave thing you’ve done.

At the time I assumed she meant my disclosure but I know now that she was also referring to my decision to stay with Gary.

As I’ve just intimated, I did get the job. I was fortunate to meet a headmistress who was experienced and sensible. She knew there was nothing that legally stopped me from teaching and that Gary posed no risk to the kids at the school. I know the decision to appoint me wasn’t just hers and that she had to fight for me – I can’t thank her enough.

I’m not looking to leave my job anytime soon but I’ve heard recently that if I ever needed to apply for an enhanced DBS check in the future I could consider contacting the relevant police force and making a request that they don’t disclose the details of Gary’s conviction. It’s good to know that this process exists and it may be something for the future.

By Julia  (name changed to protect identity)

Useful links

‘Employers, if you want me to disclose my conviction, then please ask me the question’

Despite ticking the ‘Yes’ box which asked about convictions on an application form, Silvester wasn’t asked about them at interview and so did not disclose. Although he’d done nothing wrong, he was still dismissed when his criminal record came to light.

I’ve been out of prison for 18 months and still have another 2.5 years to go on licence.

In the past 18 months I’ve applied for over 700 jobs, getting to interview stage on only 6 of the applications, only to be rejected when I disclose my conviction (I was convicted of historical abuse claims dating back 39 years).

I recently applied for a job with an international company and disclosed my conviction during the online application process by ticking the ‘Yes’ box. I was invited to an interview and during this interview my disclosure wasn’t mentioned by the person conducting it. As I understand it, if the interviewer doesn’t raise the subject of criminal convictions you are not legally obliged to disclose. I assumed that as head office were aware then I didn’t have to do any more.

You can imagine my joy when a couple of hours later I was offered the job. I eagerly accepted after double checking with my probation officer and police offender manager that it was OK for me to accept. There were no concerns from either so I was looking forward to my start date which duly arrived.

I had to undertake 18 hours of online learning, covering health and safety, manual handling etc. There was a test after each module which you had to pass before moving on to the next one. This was carried out at home in my own time and I passed all the tests with an average pass mark of 98%.

I had been working for the company for nearly 4 weeks when my manager called me in to his office one day. He asked me if it was true that I had a criminal record. I replied that it was correct. He then asked why I hadn’t disclosed at interview and I told him that as he’d not asked me directly I didn’t have to disclose to him about the conviction. He asked me to go back to work only for him to call me back to the office a couple of hours later to inform me that after speaking to head office he would be suspending me on full pay pending further investigation. I informed him that head office were fully aware of my conviction and that I had not tried to hide anything.

A couple of days later I received an email from the HR department asking for my court papers and a copy of my licence conditions. I spoke to my probation officer, police offender manager and Unlock and they all told me that I should not give my employers this information – it wasn’t necessary or legally acceptable to ask. I contacted my manager and told him that my probation officer and police offender manager would be happy to speak to head office to confirm that they had no issues or concerns with my working at the company and they would confirm my conviction without disclosing any other information.

I passed on their contact details to head office and respectfully informed them that after seeking advice I was unable to supply them with the papers they had requested.

I was suspended for 3 weeks and finally received a text message from my manager asking me to attend a “meeting” the following week. I replied that it would be fine.

The day of the meeting arrived and I was feeling quite confident knowing that I had done nothing wrong. I arrived early and the manager came out on to the shop floor and asked me through to his office. I was greeted by a more senior manager from another store who told me that they would be conducting the meeting. My own manager would be taking notes of the conversation that would follow. It soon became clear that I was to be dismissed immediately on the ground of

Concerns for my safety and that of my fellow colleagues on the shop floor and to protect the company image”. In my humble opinion it is the latter statement that was the reason for my dismissal.”

It appears that someone who knew me had come in the store and had seen me while I was working and had telephoned head office to ask if they knew they had employed a sex offender. I was taken aback a little and again I was asked by the senior manager why I had not disclosed my conviction at the interview and again I explained that because the subject wasn’t raised I was not obliged to disclose. In all fairness to my manager, he did say at this stage that he was partly at fault for not asking the question about my conviction at the interview stage. He had a couple of hundred applications to go through in a short space of time and he had simply overlooked this question. I then emphasised the fact that I had not tried to hide my conviction and that head office had been made aware of it during the application process. The senior manager stated that:

Head office don’t always look closely at the application forms and my conviction had obviously gone unnoticed.”

It then transpired that the company had not approached either probation or the police for their input, they had made up their own minds that I was not suitable for the role.

I asked them what was the point of an online application form if no one looked at them and why no contact was made with probation or the police. The senior manager said they couldn’t explain that to me because they didn’t have the answer. I asked if I could appeal the decision to dismiss me and the answer was a very swift “No”. The meeting concluded and I was escorted off the premises.

To say I felt gutted is an understatement. I really thought that at last someone was willing to give me a chance to prove that I could be an asset to them. How wrong I was.

By Silvester (name changed to protect identity)


Useful links

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

We’re continuing to look for examples of employers who have carried out inappropriate criminal record checks.

We’re gathering this information as part of our Fair Access to Employment project and 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 are 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 further information see the main Unlock website.

Challenging an ineligible DBS check


Aim of this information

For anybody with a criminal record, a criminal record check can be the most terrifying part of the recruitment process. If you know that your conviction is spent and believe that the job you are applying for is eligible for a basic check, then you would be extremely concerned to subsequently learn that an employer would be doing a standard or enhanced check.

This information will assist you in challenging through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), an employer who you believe is carrying out an incorrect criminal record check.

Why is this important?

If an employer were to carry out an ineligible check, this could result in them becoming aware of a conviction which, legally, they are not allowed to know about. You may find that once they are aware of it, they decide to withdraw the job offer.

Having a good understanding of the process of challenging an ineligible check will hopefully give you the confidence to do so.


Through the DBS, employers are able to conduct standard and enhanced checks for certain roles, which will disclose both spent and unspent convictions. Sometimes employers request DBS checks for roles that only require a basic check. Therefore, the wrong check is being applied for. This could result in the disclosure of a spent conviction which should not be disclosed. The DBS has a system which allows you to query these ineligible checks, to ensure that the correct checks are done for the correct roles, so you only disclose what you legally have to.

Step 1 – Is the role eligible for a DBS check?

Many employers can legally conduct a standard or enhanced check on the roles they are advertising and they will make this clear during their recruitment process.

If you believe the role is eligible for a DBS check, then disclose all cautions/convictions that are not filterable.

If you have good reason to believe that an ineligible check is being requested, then you may not want to disclose your spent cautions/convictions until you have had a chance to query this through the DBS.

Step 2 – Consent to the check

Where you believe that a check is ineligible, at this stage it is best to consent to the check. If you do not consent, then this may raise warning signs with the employer that you do have convictions. You should tick “no”, to the question about cautions and convictions. You do not want to disclose any spent convictions, as the DBS may subsequently find that the check is ineligible.

Step 3 – Immediately raise this with the DBS

Once the employer has submitted the application, you can then challenge it through the DBS. You will have to provide sufficient information to the DBS so that they can locate the check.

Information to be provided

E-mail with the following information:

  • In the subject line of the email, enter “APPLICATION ELIGIBILITY QUERY – URGENT”.
  • In the email, you should include as much information as possible, including your full name, your current address, your date of birth, the position applied for, the organisation name, the Registered Body number and the DBS form reference (11 digits on the top right).
  • You should also include details of why you think the application is not eligible.
  • State clearly that you would like the DBS to put the check on hold pending an outcome to their assessment of eligibility.

Examples of email templates challenging an ineligible check

Person one – Sarah

Sarah has applied for a job as an administrator working for a company who has contracts with some NHS trusts, Employer A. As part of the recruitment process, Sarah’s employers have applied for a standard DBS check which would disclose her spent conviction for fraud for which she received a 12 month custodial sentence. Sarah believes that her role is only eligible for a basic DBS check.

Dear Sir/Madam


I wish to raise an eligibility query with the DBS in relation to a recently submitted application for a standard DBS check, the details of which are as follows:

[Full name, address, date of birth, position applied for, name of organisation or registered body and DBS reference number]

I have recently been offered the role of administrator for Employer A who work on IT contracts for a range of companies. Employer A has recently applied for a standard DBS check on the basis that they carry out some contracts for the NHS. From my job description (see attached) and knowledge of the role, I believe that this position would only be eligible for a basic DBS check. I set out below my reasons for querying eligibility:

  1. From the research I have carried out, my position is not included in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 which would make it eligible for a standard DBS check.
  2. Although I work on NHS contracts, I am based in an office on a business park not in a hospital or healthcare setting. During the course of my work, I would have no contact with patients or their medical records.
  3. I have used the online DBS eligibility tool checker which states that my role would only be eligible for a basic DBS check.

Based on the above information I believe that my role of administrator with Employer A would only be eligible for a basic DBS check.

I would like the DBS to undertake an investigation as to the eligibility of this check and, until such time as an outcome has been determined, I would like the application for a standard DBS check to be put on hold.

Yours faithfully

Sarah Smith

The DBS investigated eligibility and agreed that Sarah’s job as administrator for Employer A would only be eligible for a basic DBS check.

Person two – Hassan

Hassan has applied for a job as a bus driver working for a large bus company, Employer B. As part of the recruitment process, his employers have applied for an enhanced DBS check on the basis that children may get on Hassan’s bus. Hassan is concerned that an enhanced check would disclose his spent conviction for GBH. As he would only be working on general town runs (with no specific school runs), Hassan believes that his role would only be eligible for a basic DBS check.

Dear Sir/Madam


I wish to raise an eligibility query with the DBS in relation to a recently submitted application for an enhanced DBS check, the details of which are as follows:

[Full name, address, date of birth, position applied for, name of organisation or registered body and DBS reference number]

I have recently been offered the position of bus driver for Employer B and a request for an enhanced DBS check has been submitted by ABC Registered Body. Based on the job description I have been given (see attached) I believe that my role would only be eligible for a basic DBS check for the following reasons:

  1. Employer B has stated that I will be working as a bus driver in the ‘Adult and Children Workforce’. However my position is not included in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 nor the Police Act (Criminal Records), the legislation which makes it eligible for an enhanced check.
  2. Although Employer B have a contract with the local council to provide buses for various school runs, this will not form part of my role, as can be seen from the enclosed job description.
  3. I will not be carrying out any regulated activity with children or adults and I will not be managing or supervising anybody that does carry out regulated activity.

Based on the above information I believe that my role of bus driver with Employer B would only be eligible for a basic DBS check.

I would like the DBS to undertake an investigation as to the eligibility of this check and, until such time as an outcome has been determined, I would like the application for the enhanced DBS check to be put on hold.

If you require any further information please feel free to get in touch with me.

Yours faithfully

Hassan Yacoub

The DBS investigated eligibility and agreed with Hassan that as he was not contracted to work on a designated school route, then his job would only be eligible for a basic DBS check.

Person three – Peter

Peter has applied for a job as an accountant working for a large housing association, Employer C. As part of the recruitment process, his employers have applied for an enhanced DBS check. Although Peter doesn’t have any cautions or convictions, an allegation of sexual assault was made against him whilst he was at university and even though the police decided to take no further action, this allegation could potentially be disclosed in the police intelligence part (sometimes referred to as approved information) of an enhanced check. Peter believes that his role is only eligible for a standard DBS check.

Dear Sir/Madam


I wish to raise an eligibility query with the DBS in relation to a recently submitted application for an enhanced DBS check, the details of which are as follows:

[Full name, address, date of birth, position applied for, name of organisation or registered body and DBS reference number]

I have recently been offered the position of accountant for a large housing association, Employer C, and a request for an enhanced DBS check has been submitted. Based on the job description I have been given (please see attached) I believe that my role would only be eligible for a standard check for the following reasons:

  1. Employer C have stated that I will be working as an accountant in the ‘Adult Workforce’. Although my position is included in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 which would make it eligible for a standard check, it is not included in the Police Act 1997 which makes it eligible for an enhanced check.
  2. Employer C provide housing and maintenance services to residents living in the Leeds area. They also offer support services to their residents, some of whom may be considered vulnerable. However, my role is an office based one, dealing with the corporate affairs of the organisation and, during the course of my work I will have no contact with any of Employer C’s clients.
  3. Since qualifying as an accountant 10 years ago, I have been employed by three companies. Two of these requested basic checks and one a standard. It’s not normal practice for an accountant to have an enhanced DBS check, for the reasons set out above.

Based on the above information I believe that my role of accountant for Employer C would only be eligible for a standard DBS check.

I would like the DBS to undertake an investigation as to the eligibility of this check and, until such time as an outcome has been determined, I would like the application for the enhanced DBS to be put on hold.

Yours faithfully

Peter Jones

Peter’s enhanced check has been put on hold by the DBS and he is awaiting the result of their investigation into eligibility.

What the DBS will do

Once the DBS has received your eligibility query, they will place the application on hold. They will contact the employer to gain more information, but they will not disclose that it is you that has queried the check. At some point the DBS will:

  1. Contact you to establish your details and get your consent to contact the employer.
  2. Contact the employer (normally by letter), to establish eligibility.
  3. If eligibility remains in doubt after first contact, correspond with the employer and liaise with DBS policy officials when assessing the organisation’s responses.

If the DBS decide the check is ineligible, the application will be stopped and the employer informed. The employer will still have the option of conducting a basic check on you if they feel it is appropriate.

If the DBS decide the check is eligible, the application will continue and the DBS will inform you of this. At this point you will have to decide if you wish to continue with your job application or withdraw it. If you continue then you should make sure you disclose any conviction to the employer that will be disclosed on the check. It is best to do this as soon as possible, face to face, so you can discuss any mitigating circumstances and answer any questions they may have in connection with the conviction.

Sometimes the DBS are unable to advise whether the role is eligible for the level of check being applied for. In this case, you will either need to raise your concerns with your employer or seek legal advice.

The results so far

In a Freedom of Information request, we asked the DBS how many times they had written to employers under their Ineligible Applications Process. Between March 2012 and February 2013, they had written to 3,311 employers. Of those, the results was that 1,385 applications were not completed, which works out at 42% of the ones that the DBS had looked into.

So the message we want to give is, if you think a job is carrying out an ineligible check, then challenge it.

Taking further action

If the DBS stops the application (or even if they don’t), you may decide to take further action. If an organisation submits an application for a position that they know is not eligible, they may have committed a criminal offence, as per the following: –

  • Section 123 of the Police Act 1997 states: “a person commits an offence if he knowingly makes a false statement for the purpose of obtaining, or enabling another person to obtain, a certificate under this Part.”
  • The DBS Code of Practice sets out employers’ obligations in respect of the use of information obtained through standard and enhanced check. A failure to comply with these provisions and performing ineligible checks beyond the scope of the Exceptions Order could lead to a breach of the Data Protection Act 1998.
  • The DBS Code of Practice requires that Registered Bodies must: “use all reasonable endeavours to ensure that they only submit Disclosure applications in accordance with the Disclosure eligibility criteria for relevant positions or employment.”
  • A signed statement has been made by a registered person.

Via the DBS

The DBS would first seek to stop the problem happening again by educating the organisation. If that was unsuccessful, the DBS would consider suspension. If the organisation persistently and knowingly submitted ineligible applications then they would be deregistered. However, this action is incredibly rare.

If you believe that the DBS has failed you in some way, you may want to take the matter further by making a complaint.

Via the ICO

The ICO expects the DBS to have preventative measures in place to prevent unauthorised checks. This is because they are defined as a ‘data controller’ under the Data Protection Act 1998.

If you believe that an ineligible check has been made by an organisation for your information you can call the Information Commissioners Helpline on 0303 123 1113 to discuss your complaint.

The ICO can only act once the organisation has obtained the information (as per Section 55 of the Data Protection Act). They normally require you (the complainant), to have some form of written evidence.

If you make a complaint, the ICO will decide whether the organisation has complied with the relevant legislation. The organisation will be informed of their decision, where they need to improve and how they need to rectify the situation with you. If an organisation does not show progress after a number of complaints on the same issue, the ICO’s enforcement team will take over and decide on further action.

Via the Ministry of Justice

Despite having policy responsibility for the ROA and its exceptions, the Ministry of Justice does not have a casework or investigative function. They cannot offer legal advice or investigate breaches of the ROA.

Via the Police

If you suspect that somebody has committed an offence under section 123(1) of the Police Act 1997 (see above), you can report it to the police. However, don’t be surprised if the police don’t make your case a priority. Despite the number of potential breaches, no Registered Body has yet been prosecuted under this section.

More information

  1. For practical self-help information – More information is avaliable in our understanding your criminal record section
  2. Our policy work – Read about the policy work we’re doing on the issue of ineligible checks
  3. Questions –If you have any questions about this, you can contact our helpline

Get involved

Help us to add value to this information.  You can:

  1. Comment on this information (below)
  2. Send your feedback directly to us
  3. Discuss your views and experiences with others on our online forum

DBS Adult First Check


DBS Adult First

Issued by

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)


DBS Adult First allows employers to check applicants against the DBS Adults’ Barred List. Dependant on the result of the check, this service allows an applicant to start work under supervision whilst waiting for their full DBS Certificate.

What it contains

An email will be sent to an employer giving 2 possible outcomes;

‘No match exists for this person on the DBS Adults Barred List’

This means the applicant can start work in a supervised capacity until the full enhanced disclosure is produced.


‘Please wait for the DBS Certificate before making a recruitment decision regarding this applicant’

In this case the applicant is not able to start straight away. No details are given at this stage as to why this response has been given, however, it does not necessarily mean that the person is barred. It could mean for example that:

  1. A person with a similar name or date of birth shows a match on the list or
  2. There is some criminal conviction information which would need to be seen by the employer in order for them to make a more informed recruitment decision.

How to apply

The DBS Adult First is part of the Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check and cannot be applied for separately. At the stage where the Enhanced DBS application form is sent off for processing, employers can apply for the DBS Adult First on an applicant’s behalf.

Who can apply for it?

The service is exclusive to those positions governed by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), and requests for the check must fulfil strict qualifying criteria and are permissible only where it is necessary to take such action because of a real danger of staffing levels falling below statutory obligations.

The DBS Adult First is a service that can be used in cases where, exceptionally, and in accordance with the terms of the Department of Health guidance, a person is permitted to start work with adults before a DBS Certificate has been obtained. This applies to adult services where DBS Certificates are required by law, such as;

  • Care homes
  • Domiciliary care agencies
  • Adult placement schemes



How long does it take

Approximately 72 hours

Where is it sent

To the employer via email

Other Information

A DBS Adult First check is not appropriate where a person intends to work with both children and adults. Those working with both groups would need to wait for the DBS Certificate to be returned to find out whether a person is barred from working with children. There is no equivalent quick check of the children’s barred list.



Completing a criminal record check application

Basic applications

For more information, visit our page on basic disclosures.

Standard or enhanced applications

Who processes the check?

The DBS (Disclosure & Barring Service) acts as the ‘middle-man’ between the Registered Body (which checks eligibility and identity) and the Police (who provide the criminal record information for the certificate).

The Registered Body submits the application to the DBS. Many employers are not registered, and have to use another company called an ‘Umbrella Body’. However, some large employers are Registered Bodies themselves and can submit applications directly to the DBS.

Registered Bodies and Umbrella Bodies are legally responsible for the process of submitting the application. This includes identification and address verification and declaring that the position is eligible for the check.

Completing the form

Official guidance

The DBS produce a step-by-step guide on filling out the application form. This is available to download from the DBS website.

Providing accurate information

The application form is used to help the DBS and the Police to find your records. This is known as ‘PNC matching’. If you do not provide accurate information, you could be confused with somebody with a different criminal record. It is an offence to intentionally provide inaccurate details.

The question about convictions


Question e-55 (see above) helps to identify your record on the Police National Computer (PNC). The declaration underneath the question means that you need to answer this question truthfully. 

The question on the form was amended in March 2014 to reflect the introduction of the filtering process (more information about filtering). The question is now:

“Do you have any convictions, cautions, warnings or reprimands that would not be filtered in line with current guidance?”

If you are not sure how to answer this question, you can apply for a Police Subject Access Request (SAR) to see what is on your record. Unfortunately, this doesn’t tell you what has been filtered – it provides you with everything that is on the Police National Computer. Once you have this, you should be able to work out what would be filtered.

If you’re not sure, and you don’t have time to complete an SAR, you should think about whether to tick “Yes” or “No”. if the form gets sent back to the Umbrella Body acting on the employers’ behalf you might be okay with ticking “Yes”, as the information isn’t normally shared with the employer. If, however, the form goes back to the employer, you should think carefully before ticking “Yes” as it might mean you’ll be telling them something you might not need to. Ultimately, it will depend on how confident you are that your record will be filtered.

If you have applied to have a repealed offence (something that is no longer a crime) removed from the PNC and received confirmation from the police, you do not need to include it. A repealed offence that has been removed from the PNC will not appear on a DBS certificate.

Checking the status of your application

You can check the status of your application online. You will need your DBS application form reference and your date of birth. If you cannot remember your form reference number, you should contact the DBS.




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