Most of us are aware that working in certain occupations is conditional on having your police records checked. Depending where you are in the country, this might be organised through the DBS, PVG or AccessNI. Wherever you are, the system is broadly similar although different terminology might be used. When discussing levels of checks, we’re going to use England and Wales as an example for ease, but these concepts apply equally to Scotland and Northern Ireland.


Basic DBS Check

A basic DBS check might also be called a basic disclosure, or basic CRB check. As the name indicates, this is the least detailed level of check which you can get. It’s also quite unlike the other levels of checks. Anyone can ask for a basic DBS check. You can even ask for one on yourself if you’re self-employed. A basic DBS check is just a statement of your current criminal record. Current means that your certificate will contain details of offences which aren’t “spent” under rehabilitation law. So from an employer’s point of view, it’s a way of checking that you’ve been honest when asked about your criminal convictions.


Standard DBS Checks

The next level up in terms of detail is the standard check. This sort of check can only be carried out in connection with a specific job. Standard checks might apply to people working in financial services, or in other positions of trust. A standard check looks a bit more deeply into your criminal record. Depending on the position, the DBS might disclose offences or cautions which would be considered spent under other circumstances. Decisions about what to list on a certificate and what to leave off are made on a case by case basis. The DBS will take into account the type of crime, the length of time since it happened and the requirements of the role.


Enhanced DBS Checks

This is the most detailed level of check and the type which gets the most attention. If you’re applying to work in a care home, or in a school or nursery, this is the sort of check you will have. An enhanced check will do everything a standard DBS check will do. It will also look into police intelligence or other information held about you. The idea behind this is that often, allegations never result in a crime or arrest. It is possible that someone could be repeatedly arrested and questioned over serious allegations of sexual or violent crimes, but never goes to court. This is the type of information which might be disclosed on a certificate.


Barring Checks

The final type of check is a barring check. This is usually done at the same time as an enhanced disclosure but doesn’t need a separate application. Barring checks are searches of two lists held by the Home Office. These contain the names of people who have been legally blocked from working with either children or adults because of their crimes. It’s illegal for anyone who knows they are on one of those lists to apply for a job which requires a barring check.