Understanding all of the terminology around police checks in the UK can be confusing, as terms keep changing, and to complicate matters further, there are separate systems running in England and Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. The body which carries out checks in England and Wales is called the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), so the certificates they issue are normally referred to as DBS too. This body replaces the Criminal Records Bureau checks, which were known as CRB. There are many different reasons why someone may apply for a standard DBS check, and the length of time to receive the certificate will depend on the individual’s circumstances.
It’s a commonly seen phrase when you’re browsing through job adverts or even on boards advertising for volunteers – “subject to satisfactory references and CRB or DBS check”. Most people are clear about what the references mean, but there is a lot more confusion about the other part of the process. CRB, or Criminal Records Bureau, is actually an obsolete term. In 2012, CRB merged with another body called the Independent Safeguarding Authority, and a new body called Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) was set up. The functions of this new body are broadly similar, and in the future this is the organisation which will carry out whatever checks may be required.
The most detailed type of Police check carried out in Scotland is the Enhanced Disclosure. Until very recently, this was the type of check carried out on people working or volunteering with children or other vulnerable people, until that sort of checking was replaced by the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme. Enhanced Disclosure still exists though, and there are a number of situations in which you might have to apply for one.
A Basic Disclosure form is the simplest form of police check available from Disclosure Scotland, for those people intending to apply for certain jobs in Scotland, or applying to the Home Office for an immigration visa and who are living at an address in Scotland. The form is the starting point in the process of having your police record officially checked, and to make things easier, this type of form can be completed and submitted online.
There are lots of different occupations which require the employee to undergo a DBS check. The problem with the process is that it can be quite lengthy, and involves the employee filling in a form listing their personal details, the employer verifying their personal identification documents, then the form being sent off to the DBS for the police checks to be done. On average, this process can take 8 weeks. If someone has changed their name a lot and has moved house dozens of times, the checking may take even longer. There is no way around this process and no way of speeding things up – there is no option to pay extra for an “express service”. Bear in mind that it may take several weeks for a DBS check to be returned when you apply for a new position, and always complete forms as a matter of urgency to keep the process moving as smoothly as possible. There are however some options for both employer and employee while waiting for a DBS check to be completed.
There are lots of different circumstances under which you might be asked to produce a Disclosure certificate. Disclosure is the name given to the process of having your criminal record checked before applying for a job or voluntary position in Scotland. In England, the very similar process is called a DBS check. There are many, many reasons why someone may apply for one of the different types of Disclosure certificate, but here are the most common.
There are different levels of police checking certificates which are available to employers throughout the UK, and the more detailed type of check in England and Wales is called an Enhanced DBS check. This sort of check is carried out on both employees and volunteers who work with vulnerable adults, people who work in schools or childcare establishments, foster carers, healthcare professionals, carers and social workers. There are two types of enhanced checks, one which gives simply the police records of the person concerned, and one which also searches the barred lists of people working in certain occupations who have been barred from working with children or vulnerable adults. The type of check carried out will depend on the exact position being applied for, and in the majority of cases, the employer will know what type of check is needed.