What does a DBS Check Show?
Most people are familiar with what a DBS check is, and what is involved in the application process. The three levels of DBS checks allow employers to ensure that their potential new employees or volunteers are credible for the role they are applying for. As it pertains to working with vulnerable adults or children, the DBS check was brought in after the CRB and ISA merged to form one organisation that would carry out Barred List checks alongside criminal record checks. There is more information about CRB checks here.
The three DBS checks (Basic, Standard and Enhanced) will all reveal details about an applicant’s criminal record. If an applicant doesn’t have a criminal record, that will say so in the DBS certificate. If there is a criminal record to show, the extent of the details will depend on which DBS application has been submitted.
Up until mid-2013, employers that were permitted to carry out Standard and Enhanced DBS checks on individuals had received all details of convictions or cautions held on the Police National Computer (PNC). How information had been disclosed up to that point had been heavily contested. This culminated in a court case which found that automatic disclosure of all convictions and cautions was disproportionate, therefore incompatible with the right to privacy (Article 8 of the Human Rights Act).
This meant that certain convictions and cautions could be protected from disclosure in any DBS checks online, or on paper. This is known as ‘filtering’.
DBS Filtering Process
The DBS filtering system means that now, some convictions and cautions no longer appear on DBS certificates. This was introduced to prevent any employers from unfairly discriminating on offences. Put simply, cautions and convictions which are eligible for filtering can be removed at the time someone applies for a DBS check.
Here are some common offences which are not eligible for filtering:
- Violence offences
- Drug offences that involve supply
- Sexual offences
- Safeguarding offences
Here are some offences which are:
- Common assault
- Motoring offences (not all, but several)
- Possession of drugs
- Theft (with no violence involved)
- Common assault
Filtering establishes what is not disclosed on an Enhanced or Standard DBS check. Filtered information will be removed from a DBS check, but not removed from police records. Meaning that if you apply for a DBS check online, you aren’t legally obliged to disclose anything that will now be filtered.
Do DBS Checks Show Cautions?
Multiple cautions can’t be filtered, provided that the offences are eligible for inclusion and that the time period has passed.
Do DBS Checks Show Convictions?
Single convictions that did not lead to suspended or custodial prison sentences can be filtered, provided that the offences are eligible and the relevant time frame has passed.
Whether a conviction or caution is eligible for filtering will entirely depend on the severity of the offence, and the length of time since the offence happened. After a certain amount of time has passed, that conviction becomes a spent conviction. Until then, it is an unspent conviction.
If you apply for an Enhanced DBS check online, the check will involve a complete criminal record check alongside checks against the DBS Children’s Barred List or the DBS Adult First List. Enhanced checks will include details of all spent and unspent convictions (under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974). Employers can only ask applicants about convictions or cautions that are not protected by filtering.
In summary, below is what is included in a DBS check:
- Basic DBS check – unspent convictions and conditional cautions.
- Standard DBS check – spent and unspent convictions, reprimands, cautions or warnings that the applicant has, provided this information is not protected.
- Enhanced DBS check – the same as above, along with any additional information that a local police force deems relevant to a DBS application.
Who can Apply for DBS Checks?
You can apply for a Basic DBS check no matter your occupation. Individuals can apply themselves, or employers can request one from a candidate.
For employers needing to process multiple DBS applications, please refer to our Fast Track DBS page.
Should you have any questions about the caution and conviction filtering process, please check out our FAQs page, our common DBS questions blog, or give us a call. Here at Online DBS Checks, we are more than happy to assist with any queries you may have.