It can come as quite a shock to apply for a job in a hospital, in the courts service or in any other type of organisation and find out that you must get something called a “Basic Disclosure”. It can get even more confusing when people start to refer to police checks, CRB checks, background checks, or any other terms. Here’s what you need to know about Basic Disclosure, and what the process will involve.

Difference Between Standard and Basic Disclosure

In most instances, your employer will tell you which sort of check is needed. A standard DBS check is carried out by DBS in England and Wales, and is processed through an employer or voluntary body. A Basic Disclosure is issued by Disclosure Scotland, but anyone living in the UK can apply for one. People who are freelance or self-employed can apply for a Basic Disclosure, but not a Standard Check.

Employer Doesn’t Decide

It’s not up to your employer who gets checked and who doesn’t. The government puts together lists of occupations and responsibilities which determines who requires checking. Standard checks are carried out on people like accountants, pub landlords, traffic wardens, vets and people working in the legal profession.


Whether you are applying through Disclosure Scotland or DBS the process is broadly the same. Complete the forms, prove your identity by showing photographic ID such as passport, driving licence and utility bills, send the forms off to the relevant organisation with the appropriate fee and wait for the form to be issued.

What’s Included on the Form

A standard check or basic disclosure will show your criminal record. It will not include convictions which are considered as “spent” under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. Minor offences committed a long time ago or when the person was very young won’t show up on a standard check or basic disclosure form. Also included on the form will be your basic personal details such as name, address and date of birth.

How long does it take?

Different areas take varying lengths of time to issue a basic or standard check. Around three weeks is fairly standard although it may take longer for people who have moved around a lot as more records will have to be checked. London areas generally take longer than other parts of the country.

Cost of Checking

There is no rule about who pays for the checking to be done. Volunteers have all types of checks processed free of charge. In many other cases, employers may meet the cost of checking their staff, others may ask their staff to pay.

Starting Work Before Checks

Whether or not you are allowed to start work while your checks are still pending will depend on the policies of the employer and the nature of the work. Clarify policy at interview, and do everything you can to make sure the forms are completed promptly to speed things along wherever possible.

How long does it last?

Every employer has their own policy about renewing checks. Renewing every 5 years is fairly standard.