You’ll often see references to “police checking” in job adverts, or hear people say that they have to have these sorts of checks completed before starting a new job. Police checks is one of those terms which could mean several things depending on context. If you understand what type of job or role you’re being considered for, this should help you work out which type of checking your employer carries out.
Basic Identity Checking
All employers in the UK have an obligation to check that the people working for them are legally allowed to be in the UK and working. This is usually done by asking new starters to bring their passports with them to interview or on their first day at work. There is no police checking involved in this process as it’s just a paper check by the employer and standard practice for any role.
This is what most people are talking about when they mention police checking. There are different levels of disclosure checking, and your employer will tell you which level is needed for the job you are applying for. A basic disclosure will be needed when you are applying for a licence to sell alcohol, or for working in an airport. The next level of checking is a standard disclosure, which is slightly more detailed and applies to people working in places like hospitals or schools but who aren’t directly responsible for patients or children. The most detailed level of checking is enhanced disclosure, which is for people working directly with children or vulnerable adults. Disclosures are provided by the Disclosure and Barring Service in England and Wales, AccessNI in Northern Ireland and Protecting Vulnerable Groups in Scotland but are commonly referred to as “police checking” as these bodies will ask relevant police forces to give details of any convictions or cautions.
I’ve Got a Police Record – Should I be Worried?
A higher percentage of people than you might think have had a brush with the law in the past, even if just a caution as a teenager. Some figures estimate that a third of UK men have a criminal record, and many will be working in hospitals, schools and other environments where police checking is needed. For basic and standard police checking, most offences will be filtered out which means that cautions or convictions from a long time ago, for relatively minor offences, will not appear on a disclosure checking form. These are offences which are considered as spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. For the most detailed level of checking, all of your former convictions and cautions may appear on your disclosure form, even if these would be considered forgotten under other circumstances.
Having previous crimes or cautions listed on your police record won’t necessarily stop you from getting a job. It’s up to the employer to look at the individual’s circumstances and the type of job being applied for and make a judgement call. If the only offences happened a long time ago and you’ve been squeaky clean since, you may still be employed.