DBS frequently asked questions

What is a DBS check?

The DBS check searches your details against criminal records and other sources, including the Police National Computer. The check may reveal convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings.
You, and your employer, will see the results of your search. Whatever the results, your employer will decide whether they can still employ you.

How much does a DBS check cost?

Both standard and enhanced checks require a fee, but are free of charge to volunteers. DBS defines a volunteer as: "A person who spends their time doing something that aims to benefit either an individual or group (other than, or in addition to, close relatives) and is not paid (except for travelling and other approved out-of-pocket expenses)."

The fees to process criminal records checks are:

  • Standard check - £26
  • Enhanced check - £44
  • DBS Adult First - £6

The individual being checked is responsible for the cost, but an employer may offer to pay this fee on behalf of an applicant.

What will I find on a DBS check?

The DBS check will confirm that you:

  • do not have a criminal record
  • may have a criminal record, but nothing is disclosed, as it is deemed not relevant to the position.
  • or it will list any relevant convictions, cautions, reprimands, warnings and, if applicable, whether you have been barred from working with vulnerable groups.

The police can also include non-conviction information (for example, fixed penalties) that may be relevant.

Why are DBS checks needed?

When you apply for certain types of job you may be asked to apply for a criminal record check. These are generally jobs that mean you:

  • will be working regularly with children or vulnerable people
  • will be working in an establishment that is wholly or mainly for children
  • will be working in healthcare
  • have applied to be a foster carer, adoptive parent or childminder
  • will be working in certain other professions (see Home Office guidelines)

If you do need a criminal record check, your prospective employer will let you know and tell you what to do next.

Who can apply for a DBS check?

If the job needs a criminal record check any employer can ask for one. However, only organisations registered with DBS can submit applications for criminal records checks. There are two types of registered organisations:

  • a registered body - is an organisation that is registered to access the DBS Checking Service, their role is to check and validate the information provided by the applicant and to establish the true identity of the applicant, using a range of documents, following guidance provided by DBS.
  • an umbrella body - a registered body that processes criminal record checks for non-registered organisations. They must also take reasonable steps to ensure that any organisation they are countersigning on behalf of also complies with the relevant responsibilities and obligations.

The self-employed or individuals cannot legally apply for a criminal records check on themselves.

Can I refuse to apply for a DBS check?

You can refuse to have a criminal record check carried out. However, some jobs require a DBS check by law. Therefore, if you refuse the check your employer will not be able to take your job application any further.

If you have already completed a DBS application form at the request of your employer, and you do not think this type of check is appropriate, you can contact the DBS on 0870 90 90 811.

Will I ever need another DBS check?

You might have to apply for another DBS check if you move to another job that involves working with children or vulnerable adults.
If you have been asked to apply for a DBS check, and already have one from a previous role, you can ask if the organisation is willing to accept it.
When deciding if they will accept it, the organisation will consider:

  • the length of time since the check was issued
  • the level of check needed
  • the role the check was issued for
  • the role you are applying for

If your DBS certificate is lost or destroyed, the DBS can't provide a replacement certificate. You will need to apply and pay again.

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