Part of the reason why there is so much confusion around the different levels of disclosure is reporting in the press and the media. They talk about criminal record checks as if they are all the same thing, and the procedure is the same for all jobs. That’s not the case though, so it’s hardly surprising that job applicants are bemused when they’re asked for a standard or enhanced DBS – aren’t they all the same? There are important differences between the levels of a DBS check, and although it’s really the job of the employer to know which check applies for each position, having a broad idea of how the system works is still a good idea.


Basic DBS Checks

A basic DBS check as the name suggests is the least detailed sort of DBS check out of the three. Basic DBS checks are unlike the other two in that they can be requested for any position, in any type of business. You can even request a basic DBS check on yourself. A basic DBS check will reveal only your unspent criminal convictions and cautions only. That means that most minor offences, committed many years ago, will not show up on your certificate. Employers generally don’t ask for a basic DBS check, but you might be asked for a basic DBS if you are applying for certain types of licence. People who are self-employed also frequently ask for a basic DBS check, as a sort of character reference to how potential clients.


Standard DBS Checks

A standard DBS check is more detailed than the basic check, and in addition to disclosing any of your unspent convictions, a standard check may disclose older information which is felt to be relevant to the position which you are applying for. Standard checks are mostly used for positions in financial services or the justice system, so things like theft or fraud convictions might be of particular interest. Decisions about what to disclose are made on a case-by-case basis.


Enhanced DBS Checks

Enhanced DBS checks are the most detailed checks and the type of checks most people think about when the topic is under discussion. An enhanced DBS check looks at current and past convictions and cautions but will also consider what the police call “intelligence”, or information which they have on file about people, but which might never have resulted in a conviction. This could be concerning repeated arrests, or cases which go to court and are thrown out without a successful prosecution. Again, the DBS will decide what to disclose depending on individual circumstances.

Enhanced DBS Checks also may involve something called a Barred List check. These are common in the healthcare and education sectors. Barred Lists contain the names of people who have been banned from working with children or adults. Usually, a check of these lists is the first part of the checking process; if someone’s name is on the list, they will be barred from taking the position.