Requesting a DBS Check
A Basic Disclosure Check is the same as getting a copy of a criminal record check. Putting it another way, it’s a way of seeing what information is held about you on the Police National Computer. In England and Wales, these sorts of checks are run through the Disclosure and Barring Service, which is usually abbreviated to DBS. You will also sometimes see reference to “CRB Checks”. This is a reference to the defunct Criminal Records Bureau or CRB. Although this organisation ceased to exist in 2012, the terminology is still used. Websites and employers who talk about “CRB checks” are really referring to DBS checking.
The Disclosure and Barring Service does checks at three different levels. As the name suggests, a basic disclosure is the least detailed level of checking. All that is shown on a Basic Disclosure is your criminal convictions which are not considered to be “spent” under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. This Act states that after a certain period of time, some types of convictions can be legally forgotten. Some types of minor cautions, for example, will be scrubbed from your police record in only three months. Serious crimes will never disappear from your record, but minor ones will. More detailed disclosure checks may show convictions considered spent under other circumstances, but not basic checks.
The Disclosure and Barring Service only runs the criminal record checking process for people living in England and Wales. If you’re in Scotland, you’ll have to apply to a very similar body called Disclosure Scotland. In Northern Ireland, the appropriate body is called Application-Form-Access-NI. The names and prices for the various levels of police checking might be different from the English system. There is lots of guidance on the Disclosure Scotland and AccessNI websites if you are applying from these parts of the UK. If you’ve recently arrived from overseas, then you might be asked to get a statement of good character from the police in your home country, depending on the situation. Not everyone will require to have a DBS check. For most occupations, it’s not a legal requirement.
Only people over the age of 16 can apply for a Basic Disclosure check. The system is not just for British nationals or residents; it applies to anyone who is living in the UK, whatever their background or nationality.
Applying for your basic disclosure costs £25. It usually takes around 14 days for the checks to be done and for you to receive your certificate through the post. This is just an average timescale though, and there might be delays in certain parts of the country or at the busiest times of the year.
There are a variety of ways in which you can applicants-guide-police-act-disclosure-2016. It’s usually easiest and quickest to do it online. Before you log onto the website, gather together the information you’ll need to submit your application. You’re going to need:
- A full address history going back for five years. You’ll need to give the months and years when you moved in and out of each address, and the postcodes.
- Your National Insurance number. You’ll find this on your payslip, or correspondence from HMRC. It’s in the format AB 12 34 56 A.
- A debit or credit card to pay the fee for your check to be processed.
- Your passport. Not necessarily your UK passport if you’re not a UK national, but it will need to be current and valid.
- Driving licence. This will prove your address and also confirm your identity as it has your photo.
Check that a basic disclosure is the right type of check for your needs. If you’re applying for a job with a new employer, they might need a more detailed level of checking. This is especially the case for anyone applying to work with children, the elderly or people in hospitals or care homes. If that is the case, your employer should be able to give guidance on the process for these sorts of checks.
If your employer can’t answer your questions, or you have any circumstances which are a bit unusual, contact the DBS helpline. The number is 03000 200190 and the lines are staffed during office hours by experts who can advise on the process in general, or answer more specific queries. There’s also an email customer services line on [email protected] but email replies won’t be as instant as speaking to someone on the phone.
If you haven’t got time to apply for your basic check yourself, then you can pass the job onto a designated responsible body. These third parties will take the information you give them and apply directly to the DBS on your behalf. You will pay a service fee to the third party on top of the fee charged by the DBS, but this has to be weighed against how much time and hassle they can save you. Many third parties offer additional services such as email progress reports, a customer helplines and prompts to renew your DBS check after a set period of time.
There are other ways of getting your police record. If you are just curious about the type of information held about you on the police computer, you can apply through ACROto see a copy of your file. A certificate won’t be printed with this sort of check. Applying to see your file in this way is a good method of confirming that the information held about you is accurate, and that your record hasn’t got muddled with that of someone else with a similar date of birth or name. Everything listed on the police computer will be revealed, whether or not it’s the sort of information which would be listed on any type of disclosure check.
If you’re thinking about leaving the UK and emigrating permanently to another country, then a police file check will often be required as part of the visa application process. This is usually called a “certificate of good character”.