Almost 900,000 people are arrested every year in the UK. In many of these cases the arrested person is taken to the Police station, questioned and then allowed to go home after the Police have decided they’ve got the wrong person, or that no crime has been committed. The person is then free to get on with their life, without any criminal record. Fast forward a few years, and the person who was mistakenly arrested applies for a job in a hospital, school or bank in a position which requires a DBS check to be carried out. Will that old arrest appear on their DBS form?
Standard DBS checks are carried out on people in a range of jobs from bank workers to hospital secretaries. This level of checking involves looking at the information held on the Police national computer system, but is limited to information about convictions, cautions and legal reprimands. Details about arrests where no charges are brought – even if there are several of these on the record – will not be disclosed and the applicant is under no obligation to tell their employer about them.
Enhanced DBS checks are more detailed. These are perhaps the better-known types of checks as they are needed for nurses, teachers, sports coaches or care workers. In depth checking is needed to make sure that people who pose a danger to vulnerable people can’t get a job in that sector. Enhanced checks will show all the convictions, cautions and reprimands which appear on the standard disclosure checks but also can include “any other information held”. This other information might include details of times when you’ve been arrested but without any charges being brought.
The key concept which the Police adhere to when deciding whether or not to put details of your arrests without charges on a DBS form is relevance. It’s up to the individual police force performing the check to make the judgement call over whether the data they hold is relevant or not. In most cases, it probably won’t be. Information that you were arrested once when you were 19 as you matched the description of a thief but were released within an hour will not be judged relevant. However, if someone has been repeatedly arrested over a period of several years on suspicion of fraud, leading to lengthy investigations which are still ongoing, then the Police will probably think that it’s something the employer should be aware of, especially for a position of trust.
Sometimes, information will show up on a DBS check which is incorrect. This could be a caution listed as something more serious, or offences appearing on the record which are nothing to do with you at all. Luckily, it’s easy to challenge incorrect information on a DBS check. A quick visit to your local Police station to have your fingerprints compared with those on record for the offender should quickly establish the error.