What is a DBS check?

A DBS check is an essential and legal requirement when applying to work with children or vulnerable adults. It discloses a record of criminal convictions and cautions that a person has and the information is used to determine whether a candidate is suitable for the role in which they applied for. DBS stands for Disclosure and Barring Service.

There are four different types of DBS checks; according to Gov.uk, these are:

  • A basic check, which shows unspent convictions and conditional cautions.

  • A standard check, which shows any spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings.

  • An enhanced check, which shows the same as a standard check plus any information held by local police that’s considered relevant to the role.

  • An enhanced check with barred lists, which shows the same as an enhanced check plus whether you’re on the list of people barred from doing the role.

To get a copy of your own criminal record, you’ll need to request a basic check, you can do so by applying online. It costs £23 in England and Wales, £25 in Scotland, and £18 in Northern Ireland; you will be given the DBS certificate which you can then show your future employer; the certificate doesn’t have an expiry date, although some employers request a new DBS check every three years. To get a basic DBS check, you’ll need to apply online here for people in England and Wales; those of you in Scotland, you can apply online here; and, those of you in Northern Island, you can apply online here.

The other checks can only be requested by a company on behalf of their staff. An individual employer can go through an umbrella company to do so. You can find out more about the other three checks on the gov.uk site.