BPSS Checks Looking at recruitment adverts can be hugely confusing, mainly down to the quantity of jargon used. People working in HR are used to abbreviations and are clear about what they mean, but for the rest of us it can be baffling. One of the most confusing issues is around the various types of police checks, namely BPSS and DBS. The two systems are separate but similar, so here’s what you need to know about both and where they apply.


BPSS stands for Baseline Personnel Security Standard. This is a type of background screening which was put in place by the government in 2009. BPSS screening is used when people are being employed to work in the civil service or in other jobs in energy and finance companies. BPSS isn’t a formal checking in its own right and there is no organisation administering this type of check. Think of BPSS as a checklist of boxes which have to be ticked before someone can be employed. These are:

  • Right to work checking – employers usually ask to see your passport to make sure you have the right to live and work legally in the UK.
  • Employment history – employers will ask you to give details of where you’ve been working or studying for the last three years and should call your employer or college to check these details.
  • Criminal records check – you will be asked to disclose any unspent convictions.
  • Time abroad – you will be asked if you have ever spent more than six months abroad, and to explain where you were and what you were doing during this time.

BPSS should be thought of as a detailed identity check, with employers verifying that people are who they say they are, that they are in the UK legally, and are allowed to apply for the sort of job under consideration. Any discrepancies in the information given won’t automatically mean the candidate won’t get the job, it might just mean that further information will be needed to clarify details.


Disclosure and Barring service is something separate. Depending on the type of role, candidates might also be checked through the DBS. This could apply to people working as social workers, teachers, care workers or even in office based roles which involve dealing with vulnerable adults and children. DBS checking if required will be carried out in addition to the basic BPSS checks as DBS is looking at different things. DBS checking is more about looking into the criminal past of the person rather than helping to verify their identity.
It’s important to remember that it’s not up to employers to decide who they are going to DBS checks or not. The type of role determines the level of checking which needs to be done. Employers usually foot the bill for having DBS checks done on their prospective employees, but you might be asked to pay. Volunteers have their DBS checks processed free of charge and should not be expected to pay anything.