DBS checks

DBS checks reduce recruitment risks and support compliant onboarding. ​We help with all aspects of pre-employment due diligence, including DBS Checks.


DBS checks play a valuable role in the onboarding process by supporting safer recruitment decisions.

As part of the pre-employment due diligence stage, DBS checks allow the employer to make informed decisions by revealing information about a job applicant’s criminal history.

What are DBS checks?

DBS checks are a legal requirement for only certain types roles. A carer in a care home, for example, would need to pass an enhanced DBS check. 

For other types of roles, however, employers are increasingly making use of DBS checks as a mandatory pre-requisite for new employment contracts or when contracting self-employed individuals.

Verifying an individual’s past behaviour and character can provide a level of assurance to an employer, particularly where the individual will have significant trust placed in them, and when recruiting for positions that involve access to commercially valuable and sensitive information relating to the company, its assets and client base.

The criminal record checks are processed by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), a Home Office-sponsored public body.

As proof of the check, a DBS certificate is issued, which the employer can retain as part of the individual’s personnel records.


Types of DBS checks

If you deny the allegations, you need to quickly build a rigorous defence to support your case, to avoid sanctions and a negative entry on your employment record.

If you are willing to accept the accusations against you, there

There are three types of DBS checks available: the basic, standard and enhanced checks. Each type of check will search and reveal different forms of data relating to the individual’s criminal background. 

While the basic check will return information relating to unspent and conditional convictions, the standard and enhanced checks can extend to warnings, reprimands, spent convictions and barred lists, with the enhanced check revealing the highest level of information.

While a basic DBS check is available to any individual, only registered employers can apply for standard and enhanced checks, and are legally permitted to ask an applicant to disclose criminal history or to ask an ‘exempted question’ under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order (ROA) 1975.

Employers making DBS checks must first ensure the job role meets the eligibility requirements. 

Applicants will simply need to provide two documents from an approved list of valid identification for the check to be carried out.

Technically there is no expiry on a DBS check, but since the information from a DBS check is accurate as at the time of the check, employers may consider renewal checks, usually for anywhere between six months to three years. 



Employee rights

Employers must ensure their use of the DBS Check information is fair and lawful.

There are a number of rules employers should be aware of in relation to job applicants with criminal convictions. For example, it is unlawful to reject a job applicant on the basis of a spent conviction.

There is also generally no legal requirement for job applicants to disclose spent convictions, unless the role is exempt under the provisions of the ROA and the applicant could be under a legal duty to reveal any convictions, including those that are spent.

DBS checks & record-keeping

A DBS certificate is generated at the end of the DBS result, which can be stored by the employer as part of personnel records. Employers must ensure they meet their data protection duties when storing such information and that they use any information revealed on DBS certificates fairly. 


Need assistance with DBS checks?

At DavidsonMorris we provide a specialist, comprehensive pre-employment check service for employers.

We offer DBS checks fully integrated and combined with our Right to Work check support to ensure informed decision-making, safe recruitment and compliant onboarding in your organisation through: 

  • Guidance on eligibility of a role for a DBS check
  • Advice on which type of DBS check is suitable
  • Use of DBS checks on contractors
  • Advice on developing and drafting a policy on recruiting ex-offenders
  • Guidance on data protection issues when using and storing DBS information
  • As UK immigration specialists, we bring specific expertise in relation to overseas recruitment


For help and advice on reducing recruitment risks, please contact us.


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