In the UK, there are three main types of criminal background check that organizations can request to assess a prospective employee’s criminal history. These checks are conducted by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), Disclosure Scotland, or AccessNI and provide different levels of information based on the nature of the role the individual is applying for.
The primary purpose of the DBS, Disclosure Scotland, and AccessNI is to help employers and organizations make informed decisions about the suitability of individuals for roles that involve regular contact with vulnerable individuals. This includes roles in various sectors such as health care, education, social services, childcare, and more.
Disclosure and Barring Service
The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is a UK government agency responsible for processing and providing criminal record checks and other background checks for individuals working with vulnerable groups, such as children and adults at risk. The DBS was formed in 2012 through the merger of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).
Disclosure Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government responsible for carrying out criminal record checks and providing disclosure information for individuals in Scotland. Similar to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) in the rest of the UK, Disclosure Scotland helps employers and organizations make informed decisions about the suitability of individuals for roles that involve contact with vulnerable groups.
AccessNI is the criminal record disclosure service for Northern Ireland. Similar to the DBS in England and Wales and Disclosure Scotland in Scotland, AccessNI is responsible for providing criminal record checks and background information for individuals in Northern Ireland.
Purpose of a Criminal Background Check
The DBS, Disclosure Scotland, and AccessNI offer several levels of criminal record checks: Basic Checks, Standard Checks, Enhanced Checks, and Enhanced Checks with Barred List(s) checks. These checks provide information about an individual’s criminal history, including spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands, final warnings, and relevant non-conviction information.
Employers and organizations can request a criminal background check as part of a background screening package for potential employees or volunteers, depending on the nature of the role and the level of interaction with vulnerable individuals. The goal is to ensure the safety and well-being of these vulnerable groups by preventing individuals with certain criminal histories or behaviors from being placed in positions of trust and authority
These agencies also maintain a system of barred lists, which are lists of individuals who are legally prohibited from working with vulnerable groups due to their criminal history or behavior. These lists are checked as part of the Enhanced Checks with Barred List(s) process.
It’s important to note that the information provided in a criminal background check is subject to legal safeguards and regulations to balance the protection of vulnerable individuals and the rights of individuals with criminal records. Additionally, the specific requirements for checks may vary based on the sector and the role being applied for.
DBS Criminal Background Check
The types of checks are as follows:
Basic Check: A Basic Check provides information on unspent convictions. Unspent convictions are criminal convictions that have not yet been deemed “spent” under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. These checks are available to anyone, including individuals, employers, and organizations. They are often used for positions that do not involve close contact with vulnerable individuals or handling sensitive information.
Standard Check: A Standard Check includes information about both spent and unspent convictions, as well as cautions, reprimands, and final warnings. Standard Checks are typically required for roles that involve more responsibility and interaction with vulnerable individuals, such as working with children or vulnerable adults.
Enhanced Check: An Enhanced Check is the most comprehensive type of criminal record check. It includes all the information from the Standard Check, as well as any additional relevant information held by the local police forces. This might include relevant non-conviction information. Enhanced Checks are often required for roles that involve substantial contact with vulnerable individuals, such as healthcare professionals or individuals working in child care.
In addition to these three main types of checks, there is also a separate check called the “Enhanced with Barred List(s)” check. This check provides all the information of an Enhanced Check but also includes a check against the DBS Barred Lists, which list individuals who are legally prohibited from working with certain vulnerable groups. This check is essential for roles that involve regulated activity with children or vulnerable adults
It’s important to note that the exact requirements for these checks can vary based on the nature of the role and the sector in which an individual is applying to work. Different industries, such as education, health care, and social services, may have specific guidelines and regulations regarding the type of criminal record check required. Additionally, individuals can only request a Basic Check for themselves, while Standard and Enhanced Checks are usually requested by employers or organizations on behalf of the individual.
Our UK criminal record checks are processed via the appropriate body: Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), Disclosure Scotland, or AccessNI.
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