The DBS Process

Basic Disclosures

Basic Disclosure (termed as a "criminal conviction certificate" in Part V of the Police Act 1997) is the lowest level of Disclosure and is available to anyone for any purpose, on payment of the appropriate fee.  It contains details of convictions considered unspent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 or state that there are no such convictions. This type of Disclosure is only issued to the applicant.  It is not job-specific or job related and may be used more than once.

You can apply for Basic Disclosures by clicking on Basic CRB.

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), an executive agency of the Home Office, provides access to criminal record and other information to organisations in England and Wales through a service called Disclosure. Its specific purpose is to help organisations make more informed decisions when recruiting people into positions of trust.

The Disclosure service is also available to other professional, licensing and regulatory bodies whose volunteers, employees and licensees are not necessarily in direct contact with the vulnerable, but still need to uphold the highest standards of professional performance and Disclosure can help improve these recruitment decisions as well.

Through the Disclosure service, organisations can provide greater protection for the vulnerable members of our society and afford greater protection to their customers, staff, volunteers and ultimately their organisation.

What information is available through the Disclosure service?

The DBS's Disclosure service provides access to a range of different types of information, such as, information: 

  • held on the Police National Computer (PNC), such as, convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings in England, Wales and those recorded from Scotland. There is also some Northern Ireland conviction data held on PNC
  • held by local police forces relating to relevant non-conviction information
  • from the Government's Protection of Children Act List ( PoCA )
  • from the Government's Protection of Vulnerable Adults List ( POVA )
  • held by the Department for Children, Schools and Families ( DCSF ) under Section 142 of the Education Act 2002 (formerly known as List 99) 

Levels of Disclosure

To provide this service, the DBS offers two levels of Disclosure, each representing a different level of check. The two levels of Disclosure are Standard and Enhanced.

These Disclosures cannot be obtained by members of the public and are only available to organisations for those professions, offices, employments, work and occupations listed in the Exceptions Order to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

Standard Disclosure

Standard Disclosures are primarily for posts that involve working with children or vulnerable adults. Standard Disclosures may also be issued for people entering certain professions, such as members of the legal and accountancy professions.

Standard Disclosures contain the following; 

  • details of all convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings held on the Police National Computer (PNC);

and if the position involves working with children or vulnerable adults and the relevant boxes have been marked on the application form to indicate this:

  • Information from the Protection of Children Act List (PoCA);
  • Information from the Protection of Vulnerable Adults List (POVA); and
  • Information held by the DCSF under Section 142 of the Education Act 2002 of those considered unsuitable for banned from working with children.

Enhanced Disclosure

Enhanced Disclosures are for posts involving a far greater degree of contact with children or vulnerable adults.  In general, the type of work will involve regularly caring for, supervising, training or being in sole charge of such people. Examples include a Teacher, Scout or Guide leader. Enhanced Disclosures are also issued for certain statutory purposes such as gaming and lottery licences.

Enhanced Disclosures contain the same information as Standard Disclosures but with the addition of local police force information considered relevant by Chief Police Officer(s).

Useful details for Recruiting from Overseas.

Why might I be asked to apply for a Disclosure?

You might have been asked to apply for a Standard or an Enhanced Disclosure if you will be working:

  • with children or vulnerable adults;
  • in an establishment that is wholly or mainly for children;
  • in healthcare; or
  • have applied to be a foster carer, adoptive parent or childminder.

A Disclosure may also be required for a range of other types of job or licences. To find out more please contact the DBS information line or alternatively visit our website.

Can I refuse to apply for a Disclosure?

Yes. However, there are some posts for which a Disclosure is required by law. If you refuse to apply for a Disclosure in this instance, the organisation would be within their rights not to take your job or licence application any further.

If you are currently working and your employer asks you to apply for a Disclosure, you may be able to refuse if your contract of employment does not refer to a criminal record check.
For how long will Disclosures be valid?

Each Disclosure will show the date on which it was printed.  Disclosures do not carry a pre-determined period of validity because a conviction or other matter could be recorded against the subject of the Disclosure at any time after it is issued.

The Process Stages of an Application on Arrival at the DBS

The Disclosure Arrives at the DBS

Preliminary checks

The DBS receives an average of 70,000 forms a week and each one is given a preliminary check for errors or omissions. At this point, your form may be returned if it has not been completed clearly or correctly.

Note: Around 10% of all forms are not completed correctly and have to be returned. Make sure yours is not one of them! The most common mistakes are:

  • Mandatory fields not being completed
  • Missing middle names
  • Missing addresses covering the last 5 years
  • Not providing all previous names
  • Wrong coloured ink – it must be BLACK
  • Insufficient Identity documents recorded
  • Forms not being signed
  • If unsure read the guidance notes or give us all call on 0870 90 90 844

Format conversion

Once your form has been checked, the details are transferred electronically onto the DBS's secure computer system.

Your data

Your application details are held electronically by the DBS and the detailed searches can start once registered with the DBS.

Checking process begins

The first search is against the information held on the Police National Computer (PNC).  This part of the process takes up to 10 days.

Note: The PNC holds all convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings in England and Wales and most of the relevant convictions in Scotland. Plans are being made to supplement these records with criminal convictions from Northern Ireland.

Narrowing down the search

The results are then compared in more detail to establish which, if any, of the records belong to you.

In some cases, based on all the information available, the DBS cannot confidently make this decision. In these cases, the DBS will ask you to provide fingerprints.  These will then be compared to those on held against the record to see if they are, or not, the same person.

Searching POVA, POCA and List 99

Depending on the nature of your work, your details are checked against a number of other lists.


The Protection of Children Act (POCA) list is searched if you will be working with children and has been requested on your form.

Note: A POCA check can be asked for if you are working with children in a school or in a children's nursery for example.


The Protection of Vulnerable Adults (POVA) list is searched if you will be working with vulnerable adults and has been requested on your form.

Note: A POVA check can be asked for if you are a care worker in a care home or a domiciliary carer for example.

List 99

Information held under Section 142 of the Education Act 2002 (formerly List 99) is searched if you will be working in education and has been requested on your form.

Note: A List 99 check can be asked for if you are working in a school for example.

Further searches for Enhanced checks

If you are applying for an Enhanced check, your details are now sent electronically to the Police so they can check their locally held records. The police aim to complete 95% of these within 14 days.

Note: The DBS can ask the police in England, Wales, Scotland Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Isles to carry out searches of their records held locally.

Your local police forces

Your details may be sent to a number of different forces. This will depend on a number of different factors, for example, if you have lived at a different address in the last five years.

Your data returns to DBS

Once the Police have finished their checks, the results are transferred electronically and securely back to the DBS.

Safeguarding your information

When all the checks are complete your disclosure is printed. The printing process is highly secure in order to protect your personal information.


Your DBS check is then dispatched.  The DBS will No longer automatically issue a copy of the applicant's DBS Certificate to the Registered Body.

This is a decision that had to be implemented due to a change in law. This change - part of the government’s aim to put the individual in greater control of their own data - means that that DBS Certificate will ONLY be sent to the individual on whom the check was carried out.

Employers will need to ask each applicant to show their Disclosure Certificate

Note: The DBS aims to issue 90% of Enhanced checks in 28 days and Standard checks in 10 days.

When your employer or organisation is provided by the applicant, sight of their DBS certificate, they will be able to make their final recruitment decision...

Contact HRBC or Register with HRBC to receive further information. Click to see our Resource Centre and links.

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