The Disclosure and Barring Service check helps employers make safer recruitment decisions. This guide explains the significance of DBS checks, the types available, who requires them, and their impact on employment scenarios. It’s essential knowledge for employers and job seekers alike.

What is a DBS Check?

The DBS check is a government initiative that replaces the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). It enables employers to make informed decisions about the suitability of candidates. A DBS check reveals an individual’s criminal record information or states that they do not have one, and it can be the difference between placing a person in a role with direct access to vulnerable individuals or not.

DBS checks are used for those with certain types of employment, like working with children or in healthcare, adoption, or fostering services. They help employers to ensure that applicants are not unsuitable for certain work based on past criminal convictions or behaviours. Check out this DBS check process UK.

Types of DBS Checks

DBS checks are not one-size-fits-all; they are structured to cater to different roles and levels of interaction with the public. There are four main categories:

Basic Check

This provides a ‘snapshot’ of any unspent convictions or conditional cautions the applicant may have. It’s available for any role in any sector and is often used for positions that don’t involve working with vulnerable groups.

Standard Check

This is more in-depth and includes spent and unspent cautions, reprimands, and convictions. It’s 

available for roles that require a degree of trust, e.g., solicitors, accountants, or security guards.

Enhanced Check

This includes the same as the standard DBS check but can also involve local police checks if a role involves regulated activity with children or adults. It’s used for those in healthcare or other professions with significant responsibility over vulnerable individuals.

Unravelling the DBS Check: A Crucial Tool for Ensuring Safety and Security

Enhanced Check with Barred Lists

This is the most comprehensive DBS check, including both the enhanced check information and a check if the person is listed on the DBS Children’s Barred List, DBS Adult’s Barred List, or both. It indicates if an individual is legally barred from working with these groups and can be essential for roles that involve regulated activity.

Knowing which check is applicable to a particular role is critical, as underutilizing the checks can leave gaps in employee vetting processes.

Who Requires a DBS Check?

The individuals who require a DBS check vary according to the role they are taking on. Here are the main instances:

Employment in Specific Sectors

Anyone working in a regulated activity or sector requires a DBS check. This includes teachers, healthcare professionals, social workers, and any position within the legal system that involves contact with sensitive information.

Voluntary Positions

Volunteers may also need a DBS check if they are working with children or vulnerable adults under regulated activity. Non-profit organizations and charities often need volunteers who are cleared at an enhanced level.

Self-Employed Individuals

Those who are self-employed but conduct business with the sectors or activities mentioned above may need a DBS check to prove their credibility to potential clients or agencies.

Independent Professionals

Individuals such as therapists or personal trainers who may not be directly employed by a specific organization but still work with children or vulnerable people fall under the DBS check requirement.

Applying for a DBS Check

The application process for a DBS check is relatively straightforward but must be initiated by the employer or the organization overseeing the work. The candidate provides specific personal details, which the employer submits to the DBS for verification.

The online application is the most common method and the fastest way to get the process started. Paper applications can also be used, but these tend to take longer to process. Once the information is submitted, the DBS check status, completed by the Disclosure and Barring Service, is shared directly with the applicant and their employer.

The Impact of a DBS Check on Employment

A DBS check can significantly influence the outcome of a job application, particularly if the role involves direct contact with children or vulnerable adults. Employers and agencies have a duty of care to their clients and must ensure that all reasonable steps are taken to prevent harm.

For candidates, a DBS check can sometimes feel invasive, especially if they have a past that they have worked hard to move beyond. However, the employer must conduct these checks not only to fulfil legal requirements but to provide a safe environment for those served by their organization.

Ensuring Compliance with Employment Law

Employment of personnel without the appropriate DBS checks can result in fines for an employer, disqualification from working with vulnerable groups, or more severe penalties in cases where safeguarding responsibilities have been neglected.

The Future of DBS Checks

The DBS is regularly reviewed and updated to ensure that it remains an effective tool to prevent unsuitable people from working with those they could cause harm. With the advent of advanced technology and greater collaboration between law enforcement and service sectors, the potential for more detailed, accurate, and faster checks is promising.

The Continuous Update Service (CDS) is an example of this evolution, allowing employers to check an employee’s criminal record for new information even after the initial DBS certificate has been issued.

Unravelling the DBS Check: A Crucial Tool for Ensuring Safety and Security


The DBS check is a crucial step towards maintaining integrity and safety in any well-managed enterprise or institution. Understanding its purpose, process, and implications is important for a qualified and safe workforce. It represents a unified commitment to civil duty and ethical service for employers and employees navigating the intricacies of DBS checks.

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