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Health and Safety

What is DBS check? how long does a DBS check take


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In the UK, DBS operates to identify the criminal record of someone applying for a role where employees mainly check and explore that recruitment. According to the Government of UK, every year, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) processes and issues DBS checks for England, Wales, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man, assisting companies in making safer hiring decisions.

DBS also manages the adult’s and children’s barred lists and makes considered decisions as to whether an individual should be involved on one or both of these lists and barred from engaging in regulated activity.

If you want to know the details of what is DBS check in UK? and what is its process? Check out this blog to find out the answers to these questions.

What does DBS stand for?

The full form of DBS is

D = Disclosure

B = Barring

S = Service

It’s a “non-departmental executive public agency sponsored by the Home Office.” The service is in charge of processing and providing checks that allow recruiters to make more informed selections about who they hire. Furthermore, the prior name of DBS was Criminal Records Bureau (CRB).

Close-up of man’s hand working on criminal background check form on wooden table.

What is a DBS Check?

DBS, meaning Disclosure and Barring Service, conducts a criminal background check.

DBS checks and identifies to watch whether your applicants have criminal records that would make it difficult for them to administer care or operate in the sector. Most significantly, these background checks allow you to ensure the safety of those in your care.

A DBS check is the official documentation or record stating a person’s criminal convictions. It is the process which helps to evaluate and make sure that employers are making the proper decisions throughout the recruitment process.

These checks play a vital role in finding candidates who can execute the desired position and work with vulnerable groups, including children. In the United Kingdom, a check assists employers in making the best judgments possible during the hiring process.

These are extremely critical when hiring people to work with vulnerable people, such as children. An employer can request to see a person’s DBS certificate after the check is completed and decide what to do next.

It helps companies make safer hiring decisions and ensure that unsuitable individuals do not work with vulnerable populations. Your prospective employer will always do a check on you if you apply to work with vulnerable populations. The DBS has three main responsibilities:

  • Check to determine if someone has a criminal history or if there is any proof that they shouldn’t be working in the position for which they applied.
  • Keep track of anyone who has been deemed unfit to work with vulnerable people.
  • Accept referrals from organisations concerned that someone who has not been assessed as such poses a risk and is unfit for specific positions.

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What is DBS Clearance?

DBS clearance means that employers can look into a candidate’s criminal history. Employers have the ability to look into specific occupations, such as healthcare or childcare, they can also request a more extensive check. If you request a basic DBS check, you may expect to obtain your clearance in about 14 days. Standard or enhanced DBS checks normally take eight weeks to complete and are handled by your prospective employer.

What is a DBS Certificate (UK)?

Physical copies of a person’s suitability are known as DBS certificates. A DBS certificate is a sort of background check that verifies an applicant’s criminal history and, as a result, their suitability to work with children and/or vulnerable adults.

An illustration of police database server on a laptop.

Different Types of DBS Checks

DBS doesn’t conduct just one type of check. They are divided into three categories: basic, standard, and enhanced. It is critical to understand the various levels in order to guarantee that staff are properly screened. Different types of DBS checks are discussed below: (Source: Care Check)

  • Basic DBS Check

A basic DBS check is the lowest level check and is accessible to all individuals and employers living within the UK. It is a criminal record check that individuals and employers can request.

A basic DBS will check a person’s criminal history, convictions and cautions from the Police National Computer (PNC).

  • Standard DBS Check

A standard DBS check is an in-depth criminal record check conducted on behalf of applicants by employers to ensure that they are qualified for the position.

All information about cautions, warnings and reprimands appears at this level, which helps to check or identify an individual.

It will also reveal any outstanding criminal convictions in England and Wales and convictions in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

  • Enhanced DBS Check

The enhanced DBS check is similar to the standard DBS check. However, this level is only available to employers who must request it on behalf of their applicants. In addition, an enhanced DBS check has all the information that accommodates in a standard DBS check.

Similarly, by using an enhanced check, an employer can request to see whether an employee is listed on the Children’s Barred List or Adult First list. This secures that a candidate is not barred from working with vulnerable groups but only be asked if the employee will be involved in a regulated activity.

Example of DBS Check

Checking information concerning cautions, warnings, and reprimands that appear for identifying an individual or candidates is an example of a DBS check.
We can simply say that when you want to find a suitable candidate for hiring, a DBS check can help you and the employers make the correct decisions during the recruitment process.

What is a Basic DBS Check?

In the UK, the check is accessible to all individuals and employers and is known as a basic DBS check. Typically, there are no legal requirements for anyone to request a Basic DBS check. Instead, employers can use basic online DBS checks to see if a prospective employee has any current, unspent convictions that would be relevant to the position they’re hiring for.

Self-employed people can also apply for a DBS online certificate to assist them in creating trust with potential customers or clients, especially if they work in a field that needs house visits.

Close-up of glasses UV for criminology on police records.

Do Under 18s Need a DBS Check?

The law in England and wales recognizes this issue around young people and the law about who needs a DBS check is not clear. No checks can be carried out on anyone under the age of 16 – no exceptions.

Children under the age of 16 who are volunteering or working in roles that would normally necessitate a check are not permitted to complete the form. It is up to the employer or volunteer organisation to decide how to handle this scenario, taking into account the function that the youngster under the age of 16 will play as well as the volunteer’s safety.

The following legislation uncovers the whole prospect of a check for under 18s.

Legislation Before 2012

The uncertainty around checks for under 18s arises from the old system prior to 2012. Children might request a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check as young as 13. Because the age of criminal responsibility is 10, everyone over the age of ten is likely to have a criminal record.
As a result, anybody who works or volunteers in a position that requires a check should have one. The system changed with the advent of the Disclosure and Barring Service, however not all businesses and organisations are aware of this and believe the old system still applies.

Legislation Changes In 2012

In September 2012, the UK government changed the way checks should be conducted. When applying for or volunteering for DBS-checked positions.

Employer and voluntary organisations are also prohibited from requesting a check on any child under the age of 16, regardless of the role they play. The age of criminal responsibility is the same as it has always been.

As a result, many businesses and organisations prohibit young people from volunteering with vulnerable groups of individuals without supervision. If the role needs it, the young person can apply for a DBS check as soon as they reach 16.

How Long Does a DBS Check Take?

The processing time for a DBS check can vary depending on the level of check required and any issues that may arise during the process. Generally, a standard DBS check takes around 2-4 weeks to complete, while an enhanced DBS check can take up to 8 weeks.

Considering the same, it is important to plan ahead and allow sufficient time for the DBS check to be completed, especially if it is required for employment or volunteering purposes. Applicants should also ensure that they have provided accurate and complete information to avoid any delays in the process.

What Does a DBS Check Actually Check?

Basically, DBS checks make safer hiring decisions. It also analyses the adult and children’s barred lists and makes.
DBS also manages the adult and children’s barred lists and makes decisions about whether an individual should be involved on one or both of these adults and children’s barred lists from engaging in regulated activity.

Male agent of secret service in headphones watching record of crime sitting in front of large screen.

Who Requires a DBS Check?

An organisation cannot opt to conduct DBS checks on all applicants. It must instead be based on the individual’s function. A check is always required for certain roles:

  • For any job where employees work with vulnerable groups, children require a check.
  • In the case of schools, DBS is essential for teachers, teaching assistants, childminders and sports coaches.
  • Social workers, carers, and medical professionals need a check. This also includes hospital administrative workers.
  • Additionally, Solicitors, Barristers, Lawyers, Veterinary surgeons, and Accountants need checks.

How Far Back Do DBS Checks Go?

According to Aarons Department, it depends on which check is requested. As we know that there are different types of checks, each of the checks has its unique characteristics that will determine how far it goes. The following information determines how far back the check will go.

How Far Will the Basic DBS Check Go?

Basic checks only reveal unspent convictions or conditional cautions. Therefore, the check will only return to these convictions if they have not been spent.

How Far Will the Standard DBS Check Go?

There is no specific limit for checks it can go as far back as possible. Standard check shows everything a basic does; also, it shows both unspent and spent convictions.

How Far Will the Enhanced DBS Check Go?

Due to the fact that they show both spent and unspent convictions, an Enhanced check can go back as far as feasible.

Close-up illustration of a magnifying glass.


Does a child need a DBS check?

Children whose minimum age is 16 must need a check.

Do under 18s need a DBS check?

Yes. A person whose minimum age is 16 or more 16 needs a check.

What does a DBS check actually check?

The Disclosure and Barring Service conduct a criminal background check.

What is the minimum age for a DBS check?

The minimum age for a check is 16.

What does a 16-year-old need for a DBS check?

Yes. A person who is under the age of 16 needs a check.

Can a 14-year-old get a DBS check?

No. Only an individual who is under the age of 16 can get a check.

Who requires a DBS check?

In some areas, there is always a need for a check, which includes: teachers, teaching assistants, childminders and sports coaches.

What are the 3 types of DBS checks?

The 3 types of checks include basic, standard and enhanced checks.

What does DBS stand for?

It stands for Disclosure and Barring Service.

What is a basic DBS check?

A basic check is the most basic and is available to all individuals and businesses in the United Kingdom. Individuals and employers can obtain a criminal background check.

How to find out DBS check expiry date online?

A check of applicants has no set expiration date. They will correct any information you submit at the time of the check. Afterwards, you’re clear, meaning you don’t need a recheck.

It is up to you to choose when you want a fresh check. You may verify whether the applicant’s certificate is up to date online if they have signed up for the DBS update service.


DBS check helps us access any of our applicants who might have criminal records or are on any barring lists. I hope this blog has given you a better understanding of what is a DBS check and how the process of a check works.


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