An employer’s complete guide to DBS checks - Secure Screening
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An employer’s complete guide to DBS checks

31.03.2023 | Secure Screening | DBS Employment Screening Back To Blog Posts

 A major part of the recruitment process is vetting applicants for your vacancies properly. At Secure Screening Services, we offer comprehensive employment screening packages which harness the latest cutting-edge technology to vet your candidates effectively. DBS (Disclosure and Baring Service) checks are an essential component of employment screening for employers in the UK, so you need to understand how they work and why you ought to carry them out on your applicants.

Business owners know only too well that staff members are the beating heart and soul of their organisation. Therefore, you need to get your recruitment process just right so you can hire the very best people.

Here at Secure Screening, we help customers improve their recruitment process through our first-class employment screening services. We have put together an employer’s complete guide to DBS checks. Continue reading to discover more. 

What are DBS Checks? 

You don’t want to employ dangerous individuals who could pose a threat to others (including employees, anyone they come into contact with at work, or the general public). To avoid this, you need to carry out relevant background checks on all candidates. DBS checks are at the heart of pre-employment background checks in the UK. 

So, what exactly are DBS checks? Well, DBS checks are a way for employers to check through candidates’ criminal records. DBS checks can be used to inform employers’ decisions on whether they judge a person to be suitable to work for them. 

Image of scrabble letters spelling out DBS check

DBS checks and safeguarding 

Modern employers must take safeguarding seriously, and DBS checks are part and parcel of safeguarding procedures. Enhanced DBS checks must be performed for roles whereby successful candidates will come into contact with children or vulnerable adults.

Certain offences and convictions may mean a candidate features on a ‘barring list’ flagged up by the DBS checks, thus indicating to you that the candidate in question is barred and prohibited from working with children or vulnerable adults. 

Job roles that require DBS checks 

Professions that tend to require candidates to undergo thorough DBS checks include teaching, social service work, medical roles, the police force, security, border force, government positions where employees have access to sensitive data and information, and plenty more.

High-security vetting 

Are you looking to employ people for a position in an environment where the security and safety of people, goods, services, data, or property are at high risk? In that case, you may want to top up your DBS checks with BS7858 British standard security screening check (this includes a basic DBS check). 

We’ve got your back covered at Secure Screening since we offer employers the BS7858 security screening package with rapid turnarounds. 

How do DBS checks work? 

Now, let’s look a bit more into how DBS checks work and what they show employers about candidates’ criminal records. 

Get the candidate’s permission 

Permission is needed before employers carry out DBS checks. So, remember to make sure you get an individual applicant’s verbal or written consent before attempting to perform a DBS check through a screening service. When you’ve got the candidate’s permission, you can then simply fill out their details on our easy-to-use online portal at Secure Screening.

What if an applicant refuses to give permission for a DBS check? 

Applicants to your roles have the right to refuse to give their consent for you to carry out a DBS check on them during the pre-employment screening phase. However, if you can stipulate from the outset in the job offer that refusal by applicants to let you carry out DBS checks will lead to you rejecting their application. 

Who carries out DBS checks? 

Once you’ve got the candidate’s permission, you can get the ball rolling with the criminal record checks. 

Firstly, employers today need to be aware that there are three official bodies allowed to carry out DBS checks for employers in the UK – the DBS in England, Wales, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man, Disclosure Scotland in Scotland, and AccessNI in Northern Ireland. 

Pick the right disclosure and barring organisation 

You must use the correct provider for the candidate in question. Different agencies perform criminal record checks in different parts of the UK. DBS checks are based only on English and Welsh legislation and therefore they could provide you with different results to checks carried out by Disclosure Scotland or Access Northern Ireland.

Choosing the correct disclosure and barring agency is essential since they will hold different records from one another. By using the wrong one, you may miss some important pieces of information about a candidate’s criminal history. 

Image of man in suit sitting down looking at a sheet of paper by himself.

What do you do if a DBS check brings up concerning information?

By referring to your organisation’s employment policy, you should be able to assess whether the content and information you discover during a DBS criminal record check render a candidate less well-suited for the role in question. DBS checks do not actually have a pass-or-fail element to them, however, being able to view candidates’ full criminal records can certainly help employers to make the safest recruitment decisions. 

For instance, If you stipulate in the job advertisement you won’t employ candidates on the barred list for working with children for a specific role, and later learn in the DBS checks they’ve been convicted for such an offence, this in reality amounts to them ‘failing’ their DBS checks.

So, what should you do if you discover in a DBS check a candidate has a criminal past meaning they could be a safety threat should they come work for you? Well, contact them right away and make it clear you won’t be putting them forward for the role.

What do DBS checks show? 

Basic DBS checks show unspent cautions and convictions.

Standard and enhanced DBS criminal record checks will show employers the following details about candidates stored on national UK police records:

  • All spent and unspent convictions
  • Cautions
  • Reprimands and final warnings 

However, DBS checks are unable to access overseas criminal records. Therefore, DBS checks won’t show any convictions and cautions from police forces overseas. 

Protected offences

The only offences that will not be disclosed to employers on DBS checks are ‘protected offences’, which tend to be old or minor convictions or cautions. 

Will DBS checks show candidates’ financial history?

No, you will not be able to find out about a candidate’s financial history and things like debts, credit scores, or County Court Judgements taken out against them through DBS checks. On the other hand, fraud and financial crime-related convictions will show up on DBS checks.

Credit checks can help you to find out about a candidate’s financial history and if they’ve got a track record of getting into debt. But like with DBS checks, you first need the applicant’s permission to carry out credit checks.

Do spent convictions show on a DBS check? 

Spent convictions will not show up on a basic DBS check, however, they will appear on standard and enhanced checks.  

Can employers reject candidates due to spent convictions?

For jobs where the 1974 Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) applies, it is unlawful for an employer to subject applicants to any ‘prejudice’ because of a conviction that is now spent. As a modern-day employer, you have to be careful about unfair discrimination if you discover applicants have spent convictions during DBS checks.

Exempted questions

Employers hiring people for jobs in specific occupations are entitled by law to ask an individual to reveal their full criminal history, including spent convictions. This is known as asking ‘exempted questions’.

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The different levels of criminal record checks 

If a job role is high-risk and will put successful applicants in charge of vulnerable people or give them access to property, goods, or sensitive data, then you will need to perform higher-level DBS checks. 

The four levels of DBS checks are:

  • Basic DBS check
  • Standard DBS check
  • Enhanced DBS check
  • Enhanced with Barred List(s) DBS check.

A basic DBS check only shows unspent cautions and convictions.

A standard DBS check includes more information than a basic DBS since it also includes unspent cautions and convictions.

An enhanced DBS check contains the same information as a standard DBS check but also contains any extra information held about you on local police records.

An enhanced DBS with barred list(s) check involves a check of the DBS children’s and adults’ barred list. You’ll need to perform this level of check when hiring for roles which involve looking after vulnerable children or adults. It’s standard practice for teachers, carers, and those in the medical profession to be put through enhanced DBS with barred list checks. 

Different levels of checks by Disclosure Scotland

Disclosure Scotland has three levels of criminal record checks:

  • Basic disclosure
  • Standard disclosure
  • Enhanced disclosure

Basic disclosure only informs employers about any unspent convictions.

Standard disclosure from Disclosure Scotland shows candidates’ criminal history information held on UK records, including spent and unspent convictions, and unspent cautions.

Enhanced disclosure contains criminal history and any other relevant information from the police and government departments. An enhanced disclosure includes spent and unspent convictions, unspent cautions, as well as inclusion on children’s or adult barred lists.

Levels of AccessNI disclosure checks

AccessNI is the disclosure body in Northern Ireland and it provides employers with the following levels of criminal record disclosure checks

  • Basic
  • Standard 
  • Enhanced 

A basic check will mention unspent convictions or say that no convictions were brought following an investigation.

A standard check discloses spent and unspent convictions and informed warnings on the Police National Computer. Old and minor convictions may not be disclosed. Fines and fixed penalties are never revealed in standard AccessNI checks.

An enhanced check by AccessNI discloses an individual’s full criminal record to employers including spent and unspent convictions, cautions, informed warnings, information held by the Disclosure and Barring Service, and any information held by the police that is relevant to the role applied for.

How long do DBS checks take?

Basic DBS checks should normally take around 1-2 days, and standard and enhanced checks up to 60 days. DBS checks can take longer to come back for a number of reasons. Common explanations for why DBS checks may take a bit longer can include if any of the details provided were incorrect, or if multiple police forces were involved in it.

Employers and applicants need to be aware that DBS checks can sometimes take a little longer to come back than first expected, but here at Secure Screening, we are glad to tell you we offer excellent turnaround times.

What are the red flags to look out for?

When you’re an employer in the process of screening applicants, certain red flags can crop up in a DBS check that you ought to look out for since they can let you know whether a candidate’s suitable and if they have the right temperament, attitude, and work ethic for the role.

Criminal behaviour

Violent and sexual offences, fraud convictions, court orders, and people on barred lists are certainly red flags in DBS criminal record checks that should make you seriously reflect on whether you want to employ somebody or not. Spent convictions may also crop up in DBS checks, and we go further into what to do when you encounter this later on.

Fraudulent documents  

Job applicants have to provide documents for DBS checks, such as a passport, driving licence, and utility bills or bank statements as proof of their current address.  

You understandably may not want to employ someone who provides you with fraudulent documents during the application process. Want help with spotting fraudulent documents? Secure Screening Services’ digital ID verification can help to spot fraudulent documents in a DBS check that the naked eye would miss by using the latest cutting-edge screening industry technology.

Clear inconsistencies and false information

If you notice clear inconsistencies or an applicant providing false information, such as providing different names on DBS application forms to those given on their CV, this is most certainly a red flag! 

You want to employ honest individuals that you know you can trust, not people committing identity fraud or someone claiming to be somebody they’re not to you on official documents in the application.

Image of a lady waving a red flag passionately.

What are the benefits of carrying out DBS checks?

Why do so many employers decide to perform DBS checks on candidates? Well, here we go through the benefits of carrying out DBS checks.

Peace of mind

DBS checks and screening applicants’ criminal records will mean you get the peace of mind of knowing you’re not employing dangerous employees or people who are a poor match for the role. You want your employees to be honest people and focused on getting on with the job at hand to deliver results for your business.


DBS checks also have the advantage of helping to ensure the safeguarding of others, including colleagues, clients, service users, and the public. Screening applicants properly through criminal record checks is part of your remit as a responsible employer who cares about the safety of others first and foremost. 

Better business results

Getting the pre-employment stage right and employing the right staff through thorough DBS checks should be wholly beneficial to your business and provide better results. Hiring the right hard-working individuals with good attitudes should help your business to stay productive, deliver improved results, and continually churn out profits. 

Improved company culture 

Having a positive company culture with motivated staff and great team morale is crucial to running a healthy, successful business. 

One of the benefits of carrying out DBS checks and getting vetting right for your candidates is improving your company culture. You want to employ people that are a good fit for your business. At Secure Screening, we help to ensure you get the right candidates for the right roles. 

Save on recruitment costs

Recruitment costs can work out expensive if your hiring processes are consistently subpar and flawed. DBS checks however can help to raise your business’s efficiency by saving you money on recruitment costs and reducing your staff turnover rate.

The consequences of not carrying out DBS checks 

So, you now understand a bit more about how DBS checks work and how employers can use criminal record checks to screen applicants for their vacancies. 

Vetting new recruits is an important responsibility that business owners have to take care of. Let’s discuss more what can happen when you don’t carry out DBS checks on applicants.  

Endanger the safety of others

You can put all too easily put the safety of others at risk by not carrying out DBS checks, you may unknowingly recruit dangerous individuals with long-standing criminal histories. 

Does the role involve working with vulnerable old people or children? In that case, failing to carry out the necessary checks and seeking information from the barred lists could well have put others at risk.

You’d hate for somebody to come to harm because you had failed to carry out essential DBS checks on employees beforehand.

Face legal action and be sued

Organisations that fail to provide pre-employment DBS checks on staff in certain job roles which require it can face legal action and be sued. Being sued is bad press and can damage your business finances and is thereby something you want to avoid.

Damage to your business’s reputation 

The reputation of your business could be damaged by your failure to carry out DBS checks before taking on new staff to come and work for you.

The list of offences and cautions you discover in a candidate’s DBS criminal record check may tell you the person in question isn’t right for the role. You most certainly don’t want dangerous or malicious individuals you’ve hired without running DBS checks to ruin the reputation of your business. 

Remember, how customers are treated by your staff will have a significant impact on how they view the quality of their customer experience with you, and thus on the reputation of your business. 

Why Secure Screening Services should be your go-to for DBS checks

Secure Screening Services ought to be your go-to for DBS checks because we’re the best in the business. But why’s this so? Here are a few reasons why you should pick us for your DBS checks

  • We provide a reliable service with quick turnarounds 
  • We are cost-effective with our competitive prices
  • Our unique online portal system means you can monitor the progress of your applications in real-time 
  • We use the latest digital ID verification technology
  • We offer bespoke screening packages tailored to your needs and requirements

At Secure Screening, we are market leaders in the employment screening industry. The fact we were one of the first screening providers to offer customers digital ID verification and managed to form partnerships with two government-accredited identity service providers to check the authenticity of candidates’ documents is a real achievement and something that we are proud of. 

Choosing to use Secure Screening Services for DBS checks and other fantastic comprehensive screening packages, such as BS7858 Security Vetting and BPSS Clearance, will mean that you are given the reassurance and peace of mind of knowing that your candidates are being screened properly. 

Are you a large business recruiting many candidates and needing to screen lots of candidates at once? No problem for us, Secure Screening will still be able to provide you with quick turnarounds! 

We are trailblazers in providing digital ID verification for our customers and we’re excited to announce that soon we will be offering employers automated DBS checks! Watch this space…

Looking to screen candidates for your positions properly? Get in touch with us to learn more about what we offer employers at Secure Screening Services. Call us on 01243 767868 or email