Criminal Record Check | Frequently Asked Questions

A criminal record check, also known as a DBS check, is a background check that reveals if someone has a criminal record. If a criminal record is found, then a document (a DBS certificate) is issued with the applicant’s spent convictions, unspent convictions, and other information.

Employers may perform this check to prevent hiring staff who may cause criminal, financial, legal, and/or reputational damage. In addition, candidates and job seekers may perform their own criminal record check to strengthen a job application.

Criminal record checks are common practice for many employers in the UK. In some industries, it is a legal requirement, particularly if staff are working with vulnerable people and/or children (specifically, a DBS enhanced check).

In this article, we look to answer the most frequently asked questions regarding criminal record checks.

(DBS stands for Disclosure and Barring Service).

What types of criminal record checks are there?

There are four types of criminal record checks:

DBS basic

A DBS basic check can be used for any position or purpose. It contains details of convictions and cautions from the Police National Computer (PNC), “…that are considered to be unspent under the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974.”

DBS standard

A DBS standard check is typically performed for roles such as court officers, prison employees, Security Industry Authority (SIA) personnel, etc. This check details all criminal history, including cautions, warnings, reprimands, and convictions held by the Police National Computer (PNC).

DBS enhanced

Like a DBS standard check. However, a DBS enhanced check will search the DBS Children’s Barred List or the DBS Adult first (which ensures the candidate is not barred from working with vulnerable groups). Typically, these are performed on (but not limited to) education and health care professionals.

International Sanctions

Also known as a sanction search, this check is used by companies to see if the applicant has had any adverse media attention or has affiliations with any illegal entities.

For example, an international sanction check will detect if a candidate is suspected to be affiliated with terrorism, animal rights, money laundering, drug trafficking, arms dealing, war crimes, white collar fraud, or other illegal activities.

What does a criminal record check show?

This depends on the type of criminal record check performed. A criminal record check can reveal the following:

Information that appears on a criminal record check

Which DBS check does this appear on?

Unspent convictions DBS basic, DBS standard, DBS enhanced
Spent convictions DBS basic, DBS standard, DBS enhanced
Conditional cautions DBS basic, DBS standard, DBS enhanced
Cautions DBS standard, DBS enhanced
Reprimands DBS standard, DBS enhanced
Final warnings DBS standard, DBS enhanced
Any information held by local police authorities DBS enhanced
If the applicant is on any barred lists DBS enhanced

How to check if an employee has a criminal record?

You can perform a criminal record check on your employee in the form a DBS check. As an employer, you are allowed to ask your employees or job candidates to do a criminal record check before you hire them.

However, you must have a lawful basis for carrying out a criminal record check. This comes under current data protection laws (GDPR).

There is software that can assist in performing criminal record (DBS) checks.

What should I do if my employee has a criminal record?

If you discover an existing employee has unspent an criminal conviction/s, you should treat this on a case-by-case basis. Depending on the type of unspent conviction, you can dismiss an employee. However, if the conviction/s is spent, then your employee can take legal action under ‘unfair dismissal’.

As a general practice, it is highly recommended that you take out criminal record checks (also known as DBS checks) on all employees.

We discuss what you should look out for in a criminal record check here (as well as other background checks).

How do I check my criminal record for free?

Criminal record checks are not provided as a free service in the UK. However, you do have the ‘right to ask’ for a copy of your police records, also known as a ‘subject access request’. More information can be found here.

Do note: providing a copy of your police record to an employer does not qualify as a criminal record check.

How do I check my criminal record?

You can request a DBS check via the government website. You can also check your criminal record using Employment Check App, which allows you to perform a quick DBS basic check that can be shared with employers.

Employment Check App

The app also allows you to perform other background checks and provide employers will all the data and documents they need to process your job application. Its free to use. For more information, visit /app

Which jobs require a criminal record check?

This varies depending on the industry, the role, and whether you are working with vulnerable people or children.

We provide a list of an A-Z of Job Roles and the type of DBS check required here.

Criminal record checks for employers

Depending on the size of your organisation, you may need to carry out criminal record checks individually or in bulk. EBC Global offer a solution in the form of Employment Check Pro.

Criminal Record Checks on Laptop

Employment Check Pro is a secure, fast, and robust platform that offers instant employment checks.

Employment Check Pro contains 100s of functions which has helped our clients manage their employment background checks. Pro is designed to help companies with specific compliance or referencing background check requirements.

Not only is it secure, but it is also fast and fully GDPR-compliant.

Pro adds value to both the organisation and the candidate. Save time and reduce paperwork; all whilst maintaining compliance. Learn more about Pro here or complete the contact form below to book a demo.



    Further reading

    Employee background checks – what to look out for

    DBS Check – Everything you need to know

    A-Z of Job Roles and the type of DBS check required

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