Basic DBS Check: What You Need to Know

by Giles Hampson

Has your employer asked if they can run a Basic DBS check on your behalf? Or perhaps you've been told that you need to apply for a Basic check yourself, but you're not sure what it is.

Regardless of whether you earn a wage or you work within a voluntary capacity, you may require a Basic check of your criminal convictions from the Disclosure and Barring Service - aka, the DBS check.

DBS checking is often a standard part of the recruitment safeguarding, so if you’re looking for a new job, you’re likely to be asked for consent to apply for a check.

The Basic DBS check replaced the old CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check, back in 2012. The focus remains the same: a reassurance that you have no convictions or cautions that could bar you from working in specific industries, such as financial institutions and caring professions.

The different types of DBS check

There are four main DBS checks:

We’re going to look at the Basic check in this article. Details of the other checks can be obtained here.

Just for information, the standard check reveals spent and unspent convictions, cautions, final warnings, and reprimands. The enhanced check releases the same details, including information held by local police that might be considered relevant to your job role. The Enhanced with a barred list check also confirms whether you’re on a list of those who have been banned from working in a specific position.

So, what is a basic check?

You can request a basic check for yourself. The check confirms any convictions or cautions held about you on the criminal records ledger and can be used as proof of status for most positions or purposes.

You might be asked for a basic DBS by a prospective employer (or they may request your permission to apply to the DBS database to check your status).

If you’re going to be working with money or in a position of responsibility, a potential employer might want to check your record before offering you the job.

The basic check takes around 14 days to complete.

Does it cover all roles?

A basic check isn’t usually appropriate for the following roles:

These roles usually require an enhanced DBS check. For more information about enhanced checks, click here.

How do I apply for a basic check?

You can apply for a DBS check if you live or work in England or Wales. There’s a separate process if you live in Northern Ireland or Scotland.

You apply for your check online. It’s quick and straightforward. You'll be asked to supply information that helps identify who you are, and DBS will do the rest.

You can apply directly via the DBS, using their online portal or you can use a Responsible Organisation.

What is a Responsible Organisation?

Responsible Organisations (RO) are companies who are directly registered with DBS to apply for a check on your behalf.

You will be asked to provide information confirming your identity, and they will do the rest.

An RO will assure that:

I'm self-employed. Can I apply for a basic check?

You can apply for a basic check for yourself, but you can't apply for a standard, enhanced, or enhanced with barred lists check.

If you need an enhanced check, you should ask the organisation you're working for (or will be working for) to apply on your behalf, but this is only available if you're working in specific roles.

What information will be disclosed about me with a basic check certificate?

The basic check contains details of any convictions and conditional cautions that are considered to be unspent according to the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, which aims to provide those with cautions or convictions the opportunity to 'wipe the slate clean'.

If you do have previous convictions, these will not appear on the DBS after the “rehabilitation period”.

What is the rehabilitation period?

The "rehabilitation period" differs depending on the length of the custodial sentence. Sentences of over 48 months will always appear on the DBS check.

If you have not re-offended within the relevant rehabilitation period, convictions or cautions will no longer appear in a Basic DBS check.

For shorter sentences, the rehabilitation periods are:

Rehabilitation periods are counted from the date the sentence is completed (including any relevant license period).

What are the exceptions to the rehabilitation period?

The rehabilitation period doesn’t apply in some jobs known as “excepted positions”. These are for roles where the applicant will be working with vulnerable adults or children.

You can get more information about the rehabilitation period here.

I’m transgender. What will be revealed about my past?

The Gender Recognition Act of 2004 states that transgender DBS applications should give the applicant the right to withhold gender or name information that might reveal their previous identity.

These applications are handled by a Sensitive Applications team. However, if the individual is happy for their previous identity to be revealed, they can apply using the standard route.

You can get more information here.

Can anyone apply to see my DBS information?

You need to supply consent for someone to apply to see your DBS information.

When you apply for yourself, you can opt to allow an employer or an RO to view your certificate.

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