Guest post by James Taylor
Employment in the modern era is a little more complicated than it used to be. Companies go through lengthy and often expensive recruitment processes, to ensure that they’re getting just the right person for the role they’re looking to fill.
Criminal background checks often play a role in that process, to try to filter out candidates who lie about their part, but what do DBS checks actually look for? The answer is reasonably complicated, and it will depend on the role that’s being filled and the check that’s being conducted.
Different levels of DBS check
There isn’t just a single DBS check – there are three, with each check looking for slightly different information.
At the least invasive end of the scale, we have the basic check. This check only looks for unspent criminal convictions, warnings and reprimands. It’s the only one of the checks that’s unregulated, meaning that it can be carried out on anyone for any position, as long as they provide their consent to have the check carried out.
At the next level is the standard check. This check looks for both unspent and spent criminal convictions, warnings and reprimands, meaning that it will uncover slightly more than the basic check. It’s also regulated, which means that it can only be carried out for certain positions, generally via a registered body.. The standard check is typically required in industries with a high professional standard, such as roles in finance or law.
The enhanced check is the most in-depth DBS check. As well as spent and unspent convictions, warnings and reprimands, the enhanced check will also include any information that the police think might be relevant to the role in question. Like the standard check, the enhanced check can only be carried out for certain roles, generally via a registered body.
The enhanced check can also be carried out with a ‘barred list’ check; this will be used to find out if the individual in question is on any lists that might bar them from working in certain industries.
What does ‘spent’ mean?
You’ll see we’ve used the term ‘spent’ here in relation to convictions, warnings and reprimands. Under the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, after a certain amount of time, some parts of an individual’s criminal history can be considered ‘spent’.
This means that they no longer have to be declared in some scenarios, and won’t show up on basic DBS checks. If you’re having a basic check carried out, you might have to look into your criminal record, to see which parts will likely be considered spent, and which parts won’t.
It’s not super complicated working out what information DBS checks look for, but it can be difficult to find a straightforward answer. This especially applies to enhanced checks, where the information that’s provided is largely at the discretion of the police. Ultimately, as long as you’re honest with your employer and you’re not banned from working in any industries, you shouldn’t run into any unexpected issues.