DBS Checks Throughout The UK

There’s 3 different systems for carrying out CRC in the UK – but it doesn’t have to be confusing. We’ll explain all the differences between the services that perform criminal record checks.

In England and Wales, the DBS (formerly CRB) carries out checks for criminal records, AccessNI manages Northern Ireland and Disclosure Scotland provides the service for Scotland.

The Home Offices’ Disclosure and Barring Service – the DBS – manage CRC checks for people in England and Wales. The key point is that the service that you apply to for a criminal record check is based on where you live. Many people make the mistake that it will be where their employer is located. The DBS has its headquarters in Liverpool and processes applications from registered bodies all over England and Wales. As we mentioned in the previous blog post, there are three separate levels of DBS checks. The type of check you need will vary depending on what your role is. For example, people working with children need an Enhanced DBS check. See the previous post for more details on the different levels.

Due to the UK population being concentrated in England and Wales, most online searches you make will end up pointing you in the direction of the DBS check.

North of the border, Disclosure Scotland handle criminal records. In fact, the Scottish legal system is markedly different from how it works in England and Wales. Disclosure Scotland is part of the devolved Scottish Government, with headquarters in Glasgow. However, despite differences in the systems, the three levels of CRC are the same: Basic, Standard and Enhanced. Once again, the level of check you will need depends on your job role. As mentioned above, the higher tier is usually reserved for people working with children. This is called the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme. As such, “getting a PVG” has become industry jargon and you will commonly encounter people talking about PVG checks. Whilst reports are issued in the same way as they are in England and Wales, the legal language may be different. People also still refer to the lower levels as DBS checks.

Just like in Scotland, Northern Ireland has a devolved government, and AccessNI is part of it. And just like with Disclosure Scotland, people generally still call the criminal record checks “DBS checks”. Furthermore, the same three levels of checks are available. Registered bodies can carry out the checks online. Generally, the rules regarding the checks are the same as for DBS checks. Information about which kinds of role fall into the “regulated activities” category can be found on the NIDirect website. Also, candidates in the CRC process can make payments and complete forms through the site.

The different systems across the UK can seem complex. However, country-wide organisations, for example, the NHS, are used to dealing with DBS checks from all three different systems. Unfortunately, if you’re a candidate, you can’t choose where to have a DBS check done. As mentioned above, you must use the system that services the area you live in.

The only matter that could complicate a CRB / DBS check is if you’ve recently come to the UK. It could be a waste of time to apply for a CRC in the UK if, depending on your job,