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Criminal Records Check for a Role or Job

This section explains the process of criminal records check if you apply for a certain type of job role. Find out who can check your criminal record and how to complete an application.

Who can Check a Criminal Record in UK?

If you apply for certain work roles they may need to check your criminal record. Typical examples would include working in healthcare or working with children.

The official title for this type of probe into criminal records is a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

Even so, you must be applying for one of the listed job roles. The law does not allow anyone else to check your criminal record.

You can use an online facility to find out which job roles a prospective employer can check your criminal record for.

Note: Different rules apply for getting this type of disclosure in Scotland or criminal record checks in Northern Ireland.

Types of Criminal Background Check

Depending on the job role, your employer can request four different types of criminal records check:

  • Basic Check: This shows any unspent convictions and conditional cautions.
  • Standard Check: This shows any spent and unspent convictions. A standard check will also show cautions, reprimands, and any final warnings.
  • Enhanced Check: This will show the same results as a standard check. The extra details will include any information held by local police considered relevant to a role or job placement.
  • Enhanced Check with Barred Lists: This will show the same results as the enhanced check. The extra details include whether the applicant is on the list of people barred from doing a specific type of job role.

How to Check Your Own Record

In some cases, your records cannot get checked by another person (your employer). If not, you can request a copy of your criminal record yourself. The cost is £25. You would then be able to show the results to the person you would be working for.

Restrictions for Self-employed Workers

People who are self employed will be unable to apply for most of the criminal records checks. But, you can either:

Note: Anyone working as a childminder can get a check carried out through ‘Ofsted DBS Application’.

If You Lived Abroad

A criminal records check for a role will not cover any time spent living outside the United Kingdom. Thus, the person or the organisation requesting the check:

Criminal Records Check Application Process

If your employer requests a check they will begin the application process. They will ask you to fill in a paper form or complete the online version. You will need to fill it in and then submit the online application or return the paper format to your employer.

You may need extra space to write on the paper form. If so, you can download a continuation sheet for additional information on a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) application form. You must also supply certain documents to prove identity as part of the background check.

How Long to Process a DBS Check?

The Disclosure and Barring Service tracking service allows you to track an application online. But, the processing times will vary depending on:

  • What level of check is taking place.
  • Whether there are any discrepancies on the details given for the check.
  • Which, and how many, police forces need to be involved in the background check.

Note: A basic check may take up to fourteen (14) days to process. Whereas, the enhanced and standard checks usually take around eight (8) weeks.

Checking the Certificate is Genuine

There are several ways to confirm a DBS certificate is valid and genuine. All certificates display certain security features proving their authenticity, including:

  • A ‘crown seal’ watermark – repeated several times down the right hand side. It is visible on the surface and when you hold it up to a light source.
  • A background design that features the word ‘Disclosure’. It appears in a wave-like pattern across both sides of a certificate. The colour of the pattern alternates between blue and green on the reverse side.
  • A type of ink and paper that will change colour if they get wet.

Note: DBS checks only show convictions on the date they get checked. But, you can join the DBS update service if you need to ensure the check stays up-to-date.

Lost DBS Certificate

DBS customer services do not provide replacements for any damaged or lost certificates. Thus, your employer would need to start the whole application process again if someone loses it.

How to Contact the Disclosure and Barring Service

The DBS helpline will help answer any questions about criminal record checks for a role. You must include your full name, address, and telephone number if you send them an email enquiry. Remember to add any DBS reference numbers if you have them.

DBS Customer Services
Email: [email protected]
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

DBS Customer Services
PO Box 3961
Royal Wootton Bassett

DBS Process for Transgender Applicants

The DBS service also handle any ‘sensitive applications’ from a transgender applicant. Contact them if you prefer not to reveal details of a previous identity to a potential employer.

DBS Sensitive Applications Team
Telephone: 0151 676 1452
Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm
Information on phone call charges.

Deleting a Historic Conviction

There is a way to delete a historical conviction for consensual gay sex from the record. You would need to apply to the Home Office to remove a historical conviction, warning, caution, or reprimand for consensual gay sex.

A successful application means:

  • The records would be updated accordingly.
  • The conviction would no longer appear on a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
  • It would no longer be referred to in any future court proceedings.

Download the form titled ‘Disregarding Certain Criminal Convictions (Repealed Sexual Offences)’. Fill in the details and then send it to the Home Office address below.

Home Office – Chapter 4 Applications
Email: [email protected]

Chapter 4 Applications
4th Floor Fry Building
2 Marsham Street

Note: You should report a hate crime to the police (e.g. crimes committed against someone because of their transgender-identity or their sexual orientation).

Criminal Records Check for a Role in United Kingdom