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How do I get a copy of my criminal record? Task

This information applies to England and Wales. The process is different in Scotland and Northern Ireland. If you live in Scotland or Northern Ireland, and are applying for a job in the rest of the UK, follow this advice. 

A criminal record is a list of your official history with the law. You can get your criminal record through a ‘disclosure and barring service’ (DBS) check.  

Not exactly. Some information is the same but a police record is a list of all your convictions and cautions, including warnings and cautions that are not on your official criminal record. 

You may need your police record if you are applying for a visa for a foreign country. In any case, you have the right to see your police record and can do so by submitting a ‘subject access request’ to the Criminal Records Office (ACRO).  

You can also get copies of your personal records from the prisons and courts through HM Prison Service, HM Courts and Tribunals Service, and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). 

You can get a copy of your criminal record by applying online for a basic DBS check (called ‘basic disclosure’). You must be 16 or over to apply. 

The basic check only shows ‘unspent’ convictions. Convictions become ‘spent’ once the rehabilitation period has passed and they are removed from your basic criminal record. For example, some cautions will disappear after three months. ‘Unspent’ convictions are ones for which more rehabilitation is needed. 

Before you start, check with your employer that you definitely need only a basic DBS check. In some cases, a higher level of DBS check may be needed. If that is the case, only your employer can apply for it: you are not allowed to. You can, however, apply for the basic DBS check yourself. 

To apply for a basic DBS check you will need: 

  • The addresses where you have lived for the last five years and the dates you lived at each address 
  • Your identification details (National Insurance number, passport and driving licence)