What Does a DBS Check Show?

Background checks can be enormously useful in verifying the identity and integrity of an individual – particularly in industries where trust and confidentiality are key. 

A DBS check is a type of background check used by employers across the UK to ascertain the suitability of a candidate for a specific role. It allows employers to access parts of the person’s criminal record and check for things like unspent convictions and cautions. 

In this article, we will answer the question of “what does a DBS check look for”. We’ll shed light on the differences between the four types of DBS checks available, and explore how you can apply for a DBS check in the UK.

What Is a DBS Check (UK)?

A DBS check is a critical component in the UK’s hiring process, especially in sectors dealing with vulnerable individuals or requiring high security. 

So, what does DBS mean? DBS stands for Disclosure and Barring Service, and it’s a service that assists employers in making safer recruitment decisions. A DBS check reveals information about a person’s criminal history, assisting organisations to assess if a person is suitable for a particular job. 

Why Are DBS Checks Important?

DBS checks are essential in modern-day recruitment and employment for several reasons:

  • Safeguarding: They help to protect children and vulnerable people by ensuring that those in contact with them are suitable for the role.
  • Security: Industries like healthcare, education, finance, and law require strict confidentiality as they deal with sensitive information. DBS checks provide a layer of security in these hiring decisions.
  • Trust: Employers and employees can build a relationship founded on trust, knowing that the necessary background checks have been conducted.

Additionally, carrying out DBS checks before hiring employees is sometimes necessary for compliance reasons. For roles involving ‘regulated activity’, such as teaching, employers may be required to request enhanced DBS checks by regulatory bodies such as OFSTED.

What Shows Up on a DBS Check?

If you’re wondering “what does a DBS check for”, the answer varies depending on which type of check you require. There are four different levels of DBS checks: basic, standard, enhanced, and enhanced with barred lists. Each discloses a different level of detail about the individual’s criminal record. The type of check you need to apply for will depend on the candidate’s role and responsibilities. 

What Does a Basic DBS Check Show?

A basic DBS check is the least detailed type of criminal record check. This type of DBS check only shows:

  • Unspent convictions (meaning the rehabilitation period is still ongoing)
  • Conditional cautions (i.e. cautions that resulted in a fine or other stipulation, such as attending a drug misuse program)

Any employer can request a basic DBS check for a potential employee. They may do so if the role doesn’t involve direct contact with vulnerable populations, but still requires a level of scrutiny. This is also the only type of DBS check that you can request for yourself.

What Does a Standard DBS Check Show?

A standard DBS check provides more information than the basic version. It reveals details of spent and unspent convictions, warnings, reprimands and cautions (conditional and simple).

However, there are some exceptions to this. Certain old or minor offences that did not result in a custodial sentence, called ‘protected’ offences, may be filtered out. Youth cautions, warnings and reprimands are also not shown on a standard DBS check. 

Various businesses may be eligible to request standard DBS checks for potential employees due to the nature of their roles. This may include those in the legal, financial or security industries.

What Does an Enhanced DBS Check Show?

An enhanced DBS check shows all of the same information about a person’s criminal record that would be disclosed on a standard DBS check. In addition to this, it also includes any information held about the individual by the local police that may be relevant to the role. 

An employer can only request an enhanced DBS check if the candidate’s role will involve a regulated activity. This may include:

  • Social work 
  • Healthcare 
  • Providing personal care or assistance to adults 
  • Teaching or caring for children 

It may also include ancillary roles in settings where the person may have contact with children (e.g. a cleaner in a school).

What Is an Enhanced DBS Check with Barred Lists?

An enhanced DBS check with barred lists is the most detailed form of DBS check available in the UK. As well as including all of the information shown on an enhanced DBS check, it also searches the DBS’s barred lists.

There are two main barred lists held by the DBS. One is a list of people barred from working with children, while the other lists those prohibited from working with vulnerable adults (e.g. the elderly and people with disabilities). A person may be added to either of these lists if there is evidence that suggests they may be at risk of harming a child or vulnerable adult. 

This type of check is vital for organisations that involve regulated activities. It is against the law to knowingly hire someone in a regulated activity if they are on the barred list.

How to Get a DBS Check (UK)

To apply for a DBS check in the UK, the first step is to determine the type of check required.

This is important, as you could be breaking the law if you request a standard or enhanced DBS check for someone who is not eligible. You can find out which DBS check to apply for on the GOV.UK website

To apply for a basic check, you’ll need to contact one of the ‘responsible organisations’ registered with the DBS. For standard and enhanced checks, you will need to request an application form from a DBS umbrella body. If you request more than 100 checks a year, you can also register with the DBS directly. 

You will have to pay a fee to request a DBS check for an employee, which may vary depending on the type of check. Most DBS checks take up to 14 days, though some may take longer.

Request a Full Background Check with Global Investigations

Remember: DBS checks can only show someone’s criminal history. A full background check, beyond what a DBS checks for, can offer a more comprehensive view of an individual.

Whether you’re looking into an employee, business partner, tenant or even your romantic partner, Global Investigations can help. Our thorough background checks can provide valuable information about a person’s history and character, from their qualifications to details of their previous marriages. 

We pride ourselves on our discretion and professionalism, and always ensure full compliance with UK data protection laws. To learn more about our background and vetting service, contact Global Investigations today. 

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