In the UK, most criminal background checks are carried out via a non-departmental government body called the Disclosure and Barring Service, or DBS for short. These checks are used for a wide range of different positions, generally to see if an applicant might present a risk to the organisation that’s looking to hire them. The standard DBS check is a mid-level criminal background check, and can be required for a number of different positions. Let’s take a closer look at what it involves. 

Who can apply for a standard check?

Unlike the basic check, which is unregulated and can be requested by anyone regardless of the position they’re applying for, the standard check can only be conducted by certain organisations. In most cases, the employer will need to apply for the check on behalf of the candidate, with their consent or course.

The candidate will need to fill out a form, including basic information such as their name and addresses lived in over the previous 5 years, and one or two pieces of ID. Other identification documents may also be required, such as a National Insurance number or utility bills. 

What does the standard check look for?

The standard check will consist of a search for both spent and unspent criminal convictions, warnings, and reprimands. This search will be conducted using the Police National Computer (PNC) and potentially some other police record systems.

As the search also looks for spent convictions, it will also include information that typically doesn’t need to be disclosed. The candidate may have technically reached the end of their rehabilitation period, but it will still seek to identify those past convictions, making it a harder test to pass than a basic check. 

What kind of roles require a standard check?

Standard checks are typically required for roles that involve supervised contact with vulnerable adults or children, such as healthcare or child care, and for roles with a high professional standard such as those in legal or financial services.

It’s important to note that the standard check is strictly reserved for these kinds of roles. It is a criminal offence for employers to request a check for an unregulated role, making it incredibly important that any employers who are unsure whether a check is needed speak with a specialist provider beforehand.

How long does it last?

Any online DBS check will obviously only contain information prior to when the check was carried out. That means that it won’t say anything about the time that elapses after the test is completed. How often these checks need to be refreshed will depend on the industry and the specific regulations. 

Some roles will require annual checks, while others might only require a check upon starting the role. It’s important to be clear on these regulatory requirements in order to remain in compliance with the law.

Being informed on the regulatory requirements for criminal background checks in your industry is absolutely essential. Make sure that you complete sufficient research, to stay on the right side of the law.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 1st May 2024

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