Criminality checking: basic, standard and enhanced DBS checks

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DBS checking is the UK standard criminal records checking system and helps ensure that employers make better recruiting decisions, by preventing the hiring of unsuitable people to work with children or vulnerable adults, as well as to guard against fraud or other corporate crimes.

But understanding what type of check is relevant for senior roles can be difficult, not everyone is eligible for DBS checking.

Those who will hold roles of fiduciary responsibility should have the highest level of check they are eligible for, due to their position of trust.

DBS Checks Explained

There are three main levels of DBS checks, Basic, Standard and Enhanced.

Basic Checks

Anyone can apply for a basic DBS check. This will show any unspent convictions currently on record. Basic DBS checks are not mandatory in any industry or role but carrying out a basic check can build confidence in a potential employee.

Standard Checks

Standard checks are usually most the relevant checks for people working in senior positions in the financial or legal industry and in roles where financial or legal responsibilities will be held.

Only employers can apply for a standard DBS check on behalf of employees.

It includes spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings. But the DBS can also filter certain offences such as motoring and non-violent offences in a standard check. This means that certain offences might be filtered if a required period of time has passed.

To be eligible for a standard check, a role must be listed in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) 1975. This includes accountants and those in financial services positions who carry out controlled functions such as directors of regulated companies, overseeing a regulated company’s systems or being responsible for compliance.

Enhanced Checks

Enhanced checks are essential in many education and healthcare roles and is the highest level of check available. They must be applied for by the employer on the employee�s behalf.

It includes spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings, but also any information held by the local police force which is deemed relevant to the role.

For roles which involve working with children or vulnerable adults, Enhanced DBS checks will also show whether someone is on the children�s or adults barred list, this is called an Enhanced Check with Barred.

In order to ensure that you apply for the right level of check for your employee, we recommend using a reputable screening company who will be able to advise on which is the right check for you. If an employee doesn’t meet the criteria for a standard or enhanced check, a basic level check can give some peace of mind to employers.