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.

What Information Recorded on a Standard DBS?

Based on the details which the applicant gives on their form to apply for a DBS, the Police will then check through their records both at current and all previous addresses, and will produce a certificate which states all both spent and unspent convictions, along with any formal reprimands and formal warnings. If there is no record of any convictions or warnings, the box on the certificate will state “none recorded” rather than simply being left blank.

What Sort of Roles Require a DBS Check?

There is a wide variety of different jobs where a standard DBS check is carried out as part of the application procedure. These occupations include legal professions such as barristers, court officers or actuaries, people wanting to work in prisons, chartered accountant, vets, taxi drivers, master locksmiths and anyone applying for a National Lottery licence. Employers will usually be well aware whether or not they need to carry out checks, and most will have carried out the process many times before. Guidance can also be given by the DBS if employers or employees are unsure. It’s also worth remembering that the DBS does not tell employers who to employ. The DBS certificate is just a statement of fact, with no recommendations given. It is up to the employer to decide whether the information on the certificate is enough to deny someone a position or not.

Length of Time Required For a Check

On average, it takes around 8 weeks for a DBS certificate to be issued. This can vary however. If the person asking for the check has moved around many times, has lived in both Scotland and England or has given incorrect details on a form, this can involve a greater degree of checking and verification which obviously takes longer. A very straightforward application for someone who has always lived at the same address and who has never changed their name will perhaps come back more quickly. Depending on the organisation and the role concerned, some employers may be happy to allow a staff member to start work, under some restrictions, until their DBS check comes through. Other employers may insist on seeing the DBS certificate first. DBS checks are not issued with an expiry date. It is up to employers how often they ask employees to apply for a new one, if at all.