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I have been unsuccessful in my job application due to a failed DBS or CRB check – now what? Task

This information applies only to England and Wales. 

A ‘disclosure and barring service’ (DBS) check is a list of your official history with the law (your criminal record). The DBS check used to be called the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check.

A DBS check is a way for employers to see the criminal records either of people who work for them or of people they are thinking about hiring.  

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 prisons and courts through HM Prison Service, HM Courts and Tribunals Service, and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). 

There are different types of checks depending on the job you have, or are applying for: 

  • The basic check shows unspent convictions and conditional cautions 
  • The standard check shows spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings 
  • The enhanced check shows spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings, as well as any police information about you that’s considered relevant to your job 
  • The enhanced check with barred lists shows the same as an enhanced check, with the extra information of whether you are on a list of people barred from the job 

Protected cautions and convictions are not included in your DBS check, nor are criminal records from overseas. 

Convictions become ‘spent’ once the rehabilitation period has passed and are then removed from your basic criminal record. For example, some cautions will be removed after three months. ‘Unspent’ convictions are ones that you are not yet considered rehabilitated from. 

DBS checks are only available to registered employers who are legally entitled to see your criminal record. An employer can’t ask for a standard or enhanced DBS check for a job that doesn’t need it. The employer must check that the job you are applying for is eligible for these types of DBS checks. 

However, an employer can decide that a basic DBS check is needed for any job. Employers must have a policy on employing ex-offenders and must be able to show it to you if you ask. 

You must be over 16 years of age when your employer asks for your DBS check.  

Yes, but you can only ask for a basic check for yourself. You cannot ask for the standard or enhanced checks for yourself. 

Employers require DBS checks to protect others. Different types of check are required for different jobs. For example, higher-level checks are needed for working with children or vulnerable adults. Your employer will tell you if you need a DBS check and what type you need. 

You can appeal to the DBS if they added you to the list of people barred from certain jobs and you want them to review their decision. 

You must appeal within three months of getting their decision.  

Your employer can also appeal for you if you ask them to 

Unless your job is eligible for a standard or enhanced DBS check, it’s illegal for your employer to refuse to hire you because of spent convictions. If they asked you to have a standard or enhanced DBS check but you don’t think the job is eligible for one, ask the DBS to investigate. 

All employers must treat you fairly regardless of your criminal record. They can’t discriminate against you because of a conviction or other information in your DBS check. If you think you may have been discriminated against, contact an employment lawyer for advice.