If you’re in the jobs market, you’ll often see some vacancies advertised as needing a DBS check, or stating that the applicant must undergo police checks before starting the position. In the UK, not all employers are allowed to carry out checks on new employees. The law is quite strict regarding which types of jobs require this sort of check to be carried out. Although many application forms will ask whether the person applying for the job has any criminal convictions, this is not the same as asking someone to complete a check through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), or equivalent bodies in Northern Ireland and Scotland.
For many occupations in the UK, a DBS check will be required. This is a common requirement in jobs which involve caring for children or working with elderly or disabled adults, and for jobs which have a high degree of responsibility like working in the court service or for the tax office. Employers will be aware of the need to carry out DBS checks, or if they are in Scotland or Northern Ireland, checks through the relevant sister bodies. One of the most confusing points about DBS checking is whether there is an expiry date on checks, and there is no simple answer to this.
Some occupations in the UK require that the person be vetted by the Police to make sure that they do not criminal convictions which might mean they are not suitable to do the job. This system is mainly designed to protect vulnerable people like children or elderly people from abuse, but also applies to people who have jobs which involve responsibility for a lot of money or who work in security, Police or the legal profession. In England and Wales, this checking is handled by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and there are sister organisations in Scotland and Northern Ireland which perform the same function. Getting Disclosure checks done is a standard part of the process, but who pays the fees associated with the application – the applicant or the employer?
Not every job will require the applicant to go through a police checking process before starting work, but if you are thinking of a career working with children, or in professions such as nursing or teaching, applying for a check through the Disclosure and Barring Service is part of the process. A main concern of many applicants is that minor offences or cautions from years in the past will come back to haunt them, and that may mean that they are blocked from taking their new dream job. Under UK law, some convictions are considered “spent” in certain circumstances and that means that often they do not have to be disclosed, and will not show up on any police checks.
Every year thousands of workers from other parts of the world come to the UK to work, and many of them take jobs in market sectors which require workers to have their criminal records checked. There is a wide range of occupations which fall into this category, and irrespective of nationality, police checking for people who have lived overseas can be complex and take a lot longer than for someone who has always lived in the UK.
If you’ve recently applied for a job and have been told that you must go through a process of Disclosure, the main concern is usually how quickly the process can be completed. Applications for Disclosure checking, also sometimes known under its previous name of CRB checking, is done through the Disclosure and Barring Service in England and Wales, Disclosure Scotland or Access Northern Ireland, depending on where you live and where the prospective job will be based. Each organisation has different service standards and guarantees about how long checks will take to come back. Each employer will have their own policies about whether employees can start work while their police check is pending, and this is something which should be clarified at interview stage. Many employers can arrange alternative duties for staff while they wait for certificates to be issued.
Most of us are used to going through a process of Police checking when applying for certain types of jobs, especially when working with children or vulnerable adults. Fewer people are aware that the same sort of checks can apply to voluntary organisations too, so if you have started to think about volunteering on a regular or ad hoc basis, what do you need to do and how long is the process going to take?
Would it surprise you that according to official statistics, around 10 million people in the UK have a criminal record? Of course, the types of criminal records vary from minor brushes with the law as a teenager through to the habitual career criminal, but there are probably more people with a police record than you may have thought. One of the main worries for anyone with a criminal record is that their past will hinder them getting a job, but is this necessarily the case?
Often when you are browsing through job adverts in the UK you’ll see phrases such as “subject to enhanced disclosure check” or other phrases relating to protecting vulnerable groups. If you’ve not come across this terminology before it can be confusing, but there are very sound reasons behind the need for this sort of check in certain occupations.
If you’ve been browsing through job advertisements, or looking at qualifications needed for certain occupations, you’ll more than likely have come across the abbreviation DBS. Part of the reason for the confusion is that DBS recently replaced another scheme called Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check, and these terms and abbreviations are still commonly used.