If you’ve been browsing through job advertisements, or looking at qualifications needed for certain occupations, you’ll more than likely have come across the abbreviation DBS. Part of the reason for the confusion is that DBS recently replaced another scheme called Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check, and these terms and abbreviations are still commonly used.

Disclosure and Barring Service

The abbreviation DBS stands for Disclosure and Barring Service. In essence, the Disclosure and Barring Service is the body in England and Wales which looks after providing criminal records checks for employers or employees. People who will be working in Northern Ireland or Scotland will have to undergo similar checks, but with a different official body. In Scotland this is Disclosure Scotland, in Northern Ireland it is called AccessNI. DBS is a government agency, run by civil servants and is publically funded.

Who Needs a DBS Check?

Not everyone who wants to work in the UK needs to have a DBS check carried out. For many occupations, this sort of detailed check into an applicant’s past is not required. People applying for work in the law, in some financial services roles, or who want to apply to adopt or foster, or who want to run a lottery or hold a firearms licence will all need a DBS check. Employers are usually vey clued up about which employees will need to be checked, and what sort of checks will need to be carried out. Remember that a DBS check – if required – is completely separate from any sort of checks done on an applicant’s immigration status and right to work and live in the UK.

Information on a DBS check

There are different levels of DBS checking, and each type of certificate will show different information. Even the most basic type of check will flag up recent criminal convictions, and will state the court, date and penalty imposed. Older convictions for non-violent crimes, which are often considered “spent” and forgotten about will not show on a basic DBS check, but may show on a more advanced check. Similarly, more detailed checks will show information which is held about someone on Police files which may be relevant to the job or position under question, but which has never resulted in a caution or conviction.

Decision Making Tool

It is not the role of the DBS to make decisions for employers about who they should or should not employ. The role of the DBS is simply to go through the person’s records, and state the facts as they are found. It is then up to the employer to look at the information they have been given and decide whether or not the person should be employed or allowed to volunteer. This is a judgement call which will be made based on the number of convictions or cautions which are listed, the nature of the offences and how long ago it all happened. This will usually be decided after a discussion with the employee.