A disclosure of information about spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands, final warnings with any additional information held locally by police forces that’s reasonably considered relevant to the post applied for is called an enhanced CRB check or an enhanced DBS check (Disclosure and Barring Service check). Normally, employers aren’t allowed to ask job applicants about spent convictions, but for jobs that need a DBS/CRB check such as healthcare, this rule doesn’t apply.
An enhanced CRB/DBS check includes checking whether someone is included in the ‘barred lists’ (previously called ISA barred lists) of individuals who are unsuitable for working with children or adults.
In England and Wales people who work with children or vulnerable adults must have an enhanced criminal record disclosure, which is called a DBS check.
In Northern Ireland people who work with children or vulnerable adults must have an enhanced CRB check through Access NI.
In Scotland individuals must join the PVG scheme if they are doing regulated work (e.g. healthcare) and work with children or vulnerable adults.
The employee receives a Scheme Membership Statement, which can be updated in the future for a fee of £18 (at time or writing). This is a combination of a barring check and criminal record disclosure. The PVG scheme is operated by Disclosure Scotland.
Employers should only request a CRB/DBS check for a successful job applicant. A job-offer can be withdrawn if the disclosure has anything would make the applicant unsuitable.
If requesting disclosures you must have a policy for recruiting ex-offenders, see the CODE policy template (M 233-RXO). You must also have a written security policy covering the correct handling and safekeeping of criminal record information. See the Data Protection Policy (M 233-DPT).
If the employer has concerns that an individual has caused harm or poses risk of harm to vulnerable adults or children, it is a requirement to refer. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the referral is made to the Disclosure and Barring Service, in Scotland the referral should be made to Disclosure Scotland.
Applying in England and Wales
CODE is often asked if CRB/DBS checks (disclosures) are needed for all team members. The following advice has been given to CODE by the CQC:
“Clinical dental team members whose job responsibility involves hands-on care for children and vulnerable adults are expected to have enhanced disclosures. Reception staff members who do not have day-to-day responsibility for patient hands-on care do not require disclosures.”
However please note that there have been cases where CQC inspectors have insisted that all team members including receptionist have enhanced disclosures. It is the responsibility of the practice owner to decide which team members need an enhanced check.
Where to apply
The Provider (all partners) and the Registered Manager must apply though the CQC using the post office online service. All other team members must apply through your chosen umbrella body, see below. If you have a Nominated Individual s/he must also have a DBS check, but this is processed through the umbrella body not the CQC.
DBS Update service
People can now join the DBS update service when they first apply for a disclosure; it costs £13 per year. With this service the DBS certificate it available online to current and prospective employers free of charge and is automatically updated if there is a change. One important benefit of update service is that the online certificate can be used for different jobs and that it won’t be necessary to carry out a new enhanced check in the future.
Note that the prospective employer must obtain permission before viewing the online certificate, which is called a Status Check. The employee will be aware that their certificate has been viewed. Whilst permission can be obtained orally or in writing, consider asking your employee to sign a simple form to provide you with an on-going authority; consider using Authority for DBS Status Checks (M 228A).
Applying in Northern Ireland
Enhanced Disclosures are completed jointly by the applicant and (potential) employer before being sent to AccessNI.
Employers can send the applications through an umbrella body or register with Access NI to become a Registered Body (RB) and send them directly.
If you are an NI employer or represent an organisation and you have concerns that an individual has caused harm or poses future risk of harm to vulnerable groups including children, you must make a referral to the DBS in England.
Applying for the PVG Scheme in Scotland
In Scotland the prospective employee should apply to join Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme, which is run by Disclosure Scotland. If they are already a member of the Scheme the employer must see the
If you are an employer or represent an organisation and you have concerns that an individual has caused harm or poses future risk of harm to vulnerable groups including children, you will need to make a referral to Disclosure Scotland. The PVG scheme contact number is 0870 609 6006.
How often should disclosures be checked?
There is no formal guidance about how often a disclosure should be checked. Some businesses carry out a check every three years. If you have the update service in England and Wales, you may decide to check more frequently.
Retention of disclosures
Do not keep disclosure information, its content or any copy in any format for longer than is necessary or a maximum of six months following the recruitment decision, unless a dispute is raised or, in exceptional circumstances. But you should keep:
- The issue date of the certificate
- The name of the individual
- The level of disclosure requested
- The position for which the certificate was requested
- The unique reference number of the certificate
If you are subject to inspection by the CQC and you need to keep the certificate for longer, you are required to consult the DBS about it on a case-by-case basis. This can be done by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Staff recruited from overseas
It is strongly recommended that employers should request a certificate of good conduct or an overseas criminal record check when recruiting staff from abroad. Currently, it is not possible for UK agencies to access criminal records held overseas. However, in a small number of cases, overseas criminal records are also held on the Police National Computer (PNC) and these would be revealed as part of a disclosure. Where the position meets the criteria for a disclosure, even if the applicant claims they have never lived in the UK before, a Disclosure should still be obtained in addition to the individual’s overseas criminal records.
Employers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland must refer someone to the DBS if you:
- Dismissed them because they harmed a child or adult
- Dismissed them or removed them from working in regulated activity because they might have harmed a child or adult otherwise
- Were planning to dismiss them for either of these reasons, but the person resigned first
If you want help referring someone to the DBS, contact the DBS referrals helpline on 01325 953795.
In Scotland, referrals are made to Disclosure Scotland.