What you Need to Know About DBS Checks

Written by Roseann M. Maudlin

Those applying for sensitive positions or positions overseas often need to present an official background check before they can be considered for the job. In some cases employers need to carry out the background check. But in other cases the prospective employee will obtain a basic DBS check for themselves to present at the time they apply for their new position, even if they are not compelled to do so. It demonstrates a certain confidence in themselves as well as consideration for the prospective employer.

What is the Disclosure and Barring Service?

The Disclosure and Barring Service or DBS came into existence following the merger of the former Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). The intention was to create a single central authority which could assist employers to make informed decisions regarding prospective hires. DBS checks allow companies to erect a forward line of defence against unsuitable or perhaps even overtly dangerous individuals and prevent them from ever becoming part of their organization.

What Does a DBS Check Entail?

A DBS check is essentially an official record of a person’s relationship with the law. This type of criminal record check can be requested either by oneself or by a prospective employer and is typically reserved for people who seek to work in sensitive positions, such as with children or special needs adults, or in banks or government. People heading overseas to accept teaching positions typically need a DBS check to certify to the authorities in the country where they’ll be working that they are trustworthy and are not fleeing the police or other authorities.

There are three different levels of DBS checks currently in widespread use today. They are:

The Basic Check – The Basic Check searches the national police database for any unspent convictions in an applicant’s background. A spent conviction is one that has been wiped from the individual’s criminal history. This happens to most convictions after a certain period of time. However, if one has served more than 30 months in prison for any one conviction that conviction is never spent.


  • The Standard Check – The Standard Check is processed by DBS and searches for both spent and unspent convictions as well as any official warnings, cautions or reprimands a person may have received. Individuals cannot obtain this level of check for themselves. It is only available to employers.

The Enhanced Check – The Enhanced Check searches for all of the things the Standard Check looks for as well as searching “barred” lists to ascertain whether an individual has been officially barred from working with members of sensitive groups. The Enhanced Check also provides police the ability to add relevant information they may have on the prospective employee. Like the Standard Check this level of check is only available for employers.

If you are in need of a DBS check or renewal you can initiate a check or renew your DBS here. The process is simple and straightforward and typically takes 1 to 2 weeks, at which time your DBS check arrives by post.

About the author

Roseann M. Maudlin