If you’re in the market for a new job, then you’ll be used to seeing the words “DBS Check” on job adverts. The Disclosure and Barring Service, or DBS, is the government body which runs police checks on people applying for certain jobs. DBS applies in England and Wales only, with similar but separate bodies operating in Scotland and Northern Ireland. There are different levels of DBS checks but perhaps the one which gets most attention is the enhanced DBS check.


Criteria for Enhanced DBS Checks

Enhanced DBS checks are the most detailed level of checking into someone’s background. Individuals cannot apply for this sort of check. Applications for an enhanced DBS check can only be made in connection with a specific job. And it only applies to certain types of job. Employers should know what sort of jobs need an enhanced DBS check – it’s not up to you to work it out for yourself.

The DBS has lots of guidance on what sorts of occupations need an enhanced disclosure check. In the most general terms, they are the sort of jobs involving caring for children, or for adults who could be termed vulnerable. So, people working in nurseries, schools, hospitals, and care homes will all require enhanced DBS checks. These rules also apply to volunteers in sports clubs or youth organisations. Most organisations and employers will have policies about who needs a disclosure available to consult on their website.


What Is Shown on an Enhanced Disclosure?

The aim of the disclosure process is to weed out people who are not suitable for the position they are applying for. The DBS searches all police records about the person concerned, including information about conviction considered “spent” and forgotten in other circumstances. They might also look at police intelligence which has never resulted in a prosecution. The main media focus on this sort of checks is about sexual offences against children. Obviously, that is a huge part of what the DBS does. However, they are equally interested in stopping a serial fraudster having access to potentially frail older people, or someone with convictions for violence being employed in a high-stress environment. Police make the decision of what to list on a DBS certificate based on the type of offences, and the specific job role.


The Employment Decision

It’s not the job of the DBS to make any decisions about who gets jobs and who doesn’t. All the DBS does is list the information on record on the certificate. The employer must then look at the information and decide what to do. There’s no “pass” or “fail” on your DBS certificate, it’s just a statement of fact. It’s also not the case that any criminal convictions will rule you out from work requiring an enhanced disclosure. It will all depend on the types of offences, how long ago they happened and what you’ve been doing in the meantime. It’s usually best to discuss your past with an employer at interview rather than hoping they won’t find out.