Here, our Talent Manager, Paul Steed outlines the steps to complete when applying for a DBS check.

A DBS check is carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and is for the purpose of helping employers make safer recruitment decisions each year. They do this by processing and issuing checks for England, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man in order to prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children.

Applying for a DBS check

You may think that requesting a DBS check for an individual is as simple as filling out the relevant forms? Well think again!.. There are four levels of DBS check and not everyone is eligible to request each level.

The four levels are:

  1. Basic check
  2. Standard check
  3. Enhanced check
  4. Enhanced check with barred list(s)

What level do I need to request?

One thing that is commonly overlooked is that we can only request certain DBS levels for individuals when we are entitled by law to ask them to reveal their full criminal history – This is also known as asking ‘an exempted question.’

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 sets out the entitlements for employers/ recruiters on when an exempted question applies. It states that a Standard or Enhanced DBS can be applied for when the individual will be working in specific occupations, for certain licences and specified positions. Thankfully there is a useful tool that can be used to determine eligibility for individual roles:

Basic Check

A basic check can be used for any purpose, the most common being recruitment/ employment. It will contain details of convictions and conditional cautions that are considered to be unspent under the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974.

Standard Check

This is where the legislation kicks in with regards to who we are eligible to perform the checks on. An individual cannot apply for this, there has to be a recruiting organisation linked to the application. A standard check can only be applied for in line with certain roles (which can be found on the above eligibility link). Typical roles include FCA Registered finance roles and security guards.

The check contains details of both spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings that are held on the Police National Computer, which are not subject to filtering.

Enhanced Check(s)

Again, a recruiting organisation must be involved in this application and the certificate will contain the same details as a standard check. The difference is that an employer can request that one or both of the DBS barred lists are checked, if the role is eligible. The check may also contain non-conviction information supplied by relevant police forces, if it is deemed relevant.

Enhanced checks are suitable for individuals working with children and/ or vulnerable adults, usually providing care to them (e.g. social workers). Some other small groups included in the Enhanced category include workers in the Gambling Commission and Taxi Drivers, but the full eligibility list can be found at the above link.

As you can see there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach that can be taken with DBS checks, each application should be taken on a case by case basis and the eligibility tool on the GOV.UK website should become your best friend!

For more information or for support with DBS processing, please contact us on +44 (0) 2035 385 311 or