Police checks are a standard part of applying for many positions in the UK and most job seekers are aware that they will have to go through some checking process when applying for positions involving a degree of responsibility or to work with children or vulnerable adults. There is a lot of confusion around the process though, and part of the problem is that the jargon and terminology changes on a regular basis. So, what exactly is the difference between a CRB check and a DBS check?


CRB Checks

CRB stands for Criminal Records Bureau. This was a governmental body which was formed in 1997, after an outcry about several high-profile criminal cases involving children, vulnerable adults and people who were in positions of responsibility. Before the CRB was created it was up to individual police forces to carry out criminal records check, and the CRB was created to try to centralise the process and provide a consistent and effective service. However, the CRB has not existed in England and Wales since 2012, when it was merged with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) to make a new body, called the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). It’s still common to see people referring to CRB checks or mentioning waiting for their CRB certificate to arrive in the post. But what they really mean is their DBS certificate.


DBS Checks

So, in the simplest terms, a DBS check and a CRB check are the same thing. The Disclosure and Barring Service however covers just England and Wales. If you live in Scotland or Northern Ireland you will apply through a different body, Disclosure Scotland or AccessNI. This is the case even if you will be working in England or Wales as the body you apply through depends on where you live, not where you work. These sister bodies to the DBS do roughly the same job but will use different terminology and have different forms to complete.

Your employer will in most cases tell you which sort of DBS check you require and will help you through the application process in most cases too. Whichever body you are applying through, the process is broadly similar. First you will start by completing the application form, which asks for a range of personal details such as previous names, address history and any past criminal convictions and cautions. Then, you have to prove your identity matches the application by showing key documents such as your passport or driving licence. Finally, the police will check over the application and search their database before printing a certificate.


Why Do People Still Mention CRB Checks?

Old habits die hard, and it can be difficult to drop one acronym and move onto another. However, any professional recruiter or employer should be well aware that the terminology has changed. A job advert which mentions CRB might well be genuine, but this could also be an indication that the employer isn’t all that they make out to be.