Use this guide to find out the grounds needed to check a person's criminal record. This section also explains how to apply to check the criminal records of someone else.
UK POLICE CRIMINAL RECORD CHECK: Find out who can apply, how much it costs, and how long the process takes.
There are several reasons for running criminal background checks. Some of the most common include:
But, there are set procedures to follow if you want to check someone else's criminal record.
The free criminal record check online (like in the USA) does not apply in the United Kingdom. You need a valid reason to check someone else's criminal record.
An example would be when they apply for certain job roles (e.g. in childcare or in healthcare). In this case, you need to apply for a criminal record background check from the 'Disclosure and Barring Service' (DBS).
The Disclosure and Barring Service replaces the old Criminal Record Bureau check (CRB). The GOV.UK website has a facility to apply for a DBS check online. But, you can only use the tool if the person is applying for certain roles.
What if you are applying for the role yourself? For example, it could be for a job placement at a hospital or a care home. In this case, you cannot use the tool to check yourself. But, it does show you whether your own criminal record can get checked or not.
Note: Your employer can ask you to request a 'basic disclosure' if they are unable to check your record.
What if you want to perform a criminal record check as part of a role in management? In most cases, the checker will show whether you can check the staff and then check the manager as well.
Note: The rules on getting a background criminal record check in Scotland and in Northern Ireland vary. You will also need to apply using a different method if you want to request a copy of your own criminal record.
There are three types of criminal record checks that an organisation can carry out. The 3 different levels and types are:
Note: The organisation must have a policy on recruiting and employing ex-offenders to carry out criminal records checks. You must show it to any applicant who asks to see it.
Only an organisation can apply for the three criminal background checks. You cannot apply for any of these for yourself. But, instead of this you can:
There is no official expiry date on a DBS check. That means any information on it will be accurate at the time the check got carried out. The need to repeat a check would be for each organisation to decide themselves.
You can check whether a certificate is up to date online if the applicant signed up for the DBS update service.
Organisations can accept a DBS certificate even if the request was for a previous role. But, in cases such as these you must check:
DBS checks do not cover any time that someone lived outside of the United Kingdom. Thus, you would need to check the rules for the particular country that they lived in.
You can contact DBS if you have any doubts on whether you can request a criminal record check on another person.
DBS Customer Services
Telephone: 0300 0200 190
Welsh: 0300 0200 191
Minicom: 0300 0200 192
International: +44 151 676 9390
Monday to Friday: 8am to 6pm (9am to 5pm for appeals and disputes)
Saturday: 10am to 5pm
Check call charges to 0300 numbers.
DBS Customer Services
PO Box 3961
Royal Wootton Bassett
The process of requesting a check depends on how many checks your organisation does per year. Thus, if you:
There are 5 basic steps to completing an application for a DBS check.
The level and type of check determines the price of the DBS check. But, note that all these checks are free for volunteers.
As a rule, it will take around 8 weeks to complete the process. But, it may take longer if the details are incorrect or the check involves several police forces.
Note: There is no fast check service available. But, registered organisations can use the 'DBS tracking service' to track multiple applications.
The DBS Adult First Check service is for those who provide care services for adults (e.g. in a care home). It costs an extra £6 but usually confirms the request within two days. The response will state whether the applicant:
UK Police Criminal Record Check in the United Kingdom