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Were you given a compensation order in court? Remember to tell the DBS once it’s paid

Our helpline regularly receives contact from individuals concerned to find that a conviction they’d believed was spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 is still showing on their basic DBS certificate.

There are many reasons why this might be the case, but one of the things that our helpline advisors will ask is whether the person received a compensation order as part of their sentence.

Compensation orders only become spent once they’re paid in full. So, if you’ve not paid it, your conviction will still show on your basic check.

But, even when you have paid it, your conviction may still show on your basic DBS certificate. This is because there is currently no system in place which allows a court to update the DBS that an order has been settled in full. In practice, the onus is on you to provide proof of payment to the DBS when you apply for your basic check. (you don’t have to do this every time, just once).

The only time the DBS will consider a compensation order spent under the ROA without having any proof of payment from you is when it:

  1. was for an amount of less than £100 or
  2. is over 6 years old.

Let the DBS know you’ve paid the compensation order?

You’ll need to get proof that your order has been paid in full from the court where you were sentenced. Depending on the court, this may be in the form of a receipt or a letter. There isn’t usually a charge for this.

You should send a copy of this receipt/letter to the DBS either with your application or separately, in confidence, if your application is being submitted via a third party. Remember to quote your application barcode or reference number together with your name, address and date of birth in any correspondence.

Once they’ve received this, the DBS will be able to update their records and your conviction will no longer appear on your basic DBS certificate.

For more information


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  1. My basic dbs certificate is being assembled does this mean it’s to late to notify the dbs that my compensation is fully paid?

    1. Hi Mohibur

      If the compensation order was for less than £100 the DBS state that they will assume that it has been paid in full. If it’s for more than £100 the DBS should contact you and ask for evidence of payment before the certificate is printed. However, we know that this doesn’t always happen and the DBS have produced basic certificates which continue to show a conviction as being unspent. I’d suggest you contact the DBS as soon as possible and ask whether you can email them evidence of payment (either a receipt of an email from the court). If it isn’t possible to do this, when the certificate arrives, don’t hand it over to the employer but raise a dispute with the DBS and then forward them evidence of payment. Once they’ve received this they will produce a new ‘clean’ certificate.

      Best wishes


  2. Can I move abroad while paying a compensation order? Never missed a payment and is paid by debit card every month which will continue when living abroad.

    1. Hi Chantelle

      In terms of the criminal justice system in the UK, there’s nothing stopping you from moving abroad if your compensation order hasn’t been paid. The only thing to bear in mind is that if you are moving to a country where you’ll need a residents permit or visa then you will need to disclose any convictions and they will continue to appear on a police certificate for at least 10 years.

  3. Hello im trying to get employment but i have a conviction that is now spent on my record. I was ordered to pay compensation which was paid. This happened on the 6th December 2018. I paid the amount. My question is how do i obtain that information i paid the compensation from the courts now after all this time? I cannot seem to find a receipt or confirmation from my end. I would appreciate the help as i am stuck and cannot get any work because of this.

    1. Hi Harvey

      The best thing to do would be to email the court asking them to confirm that the compensation order has been paid in full. The court will then confirm payment by email. The DBS are more than happy to accept email confirmation from a court.

      Best wishes


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

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