A DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check, formerly known as a CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check, is a procedure used in the United Kingdom to collect information about an individual’s criminal past. It is mainly done for employment or licensing reasons in certain roles, especially those that involve working with vulnerable groups such as children or vulnerable adults.
A CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check was a type of background check done in the United Kingdom to provide information about an individual’s criminal record. It was replaced by the DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check in 2012, when the CRB merged with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).
The aim of a DBS check is to provide organizations with information about an individual’s criminal convictions, cautions, reprimands, and warnings. The check helps employers make informed decisions about an individual’s suitability for a specific job or role, especially when dealing with positions that require a high level of trust and responsibility.
The DBS application is carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service; The DBS is an executive agency of the UK Home Office and is responsible for processing requests for criminal record checks and providing certificates of disclosure. Its purpose is to assist employers and organizations in making informed decisions regarding the suitability of individuals for certain roles, particularly those involving work with vulnerable groups such as children or vulnerable adults. The level of the DBS check required depends on the nature of the job or position. There are three levels of checks, namely:
- Basic DBS Check: This provides details of unspent convictions and is available to anyone for any purpose.
- Standard DBS Check: This includes information on spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands, and final warnings. It is typically required for positions that involve regular contact with vulnerable groups.
- Enhanced DBS Check: This includes the same information as the standard check but may also involve additional relevant police information that the police consider appropriate. It is usually required for positions involving substantial unsupervised contact with vulnerable groups, such as teaching or healthcare roles.
Before the introduction of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) in 2012, the UK used the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks.
The main difference between a DBS application and a CRB check is that the DBS is the organization responsible for conducting the checks and the difference in the terminology used as well.
The key differences that distinguish the two are listed below:
- Organization Responsible: The CRB checks were conducted by the Criminal Records Bureau, whereas the DBS checks are conducted by the Disclosure and Barring Service, which is an executive agency of the UK Home Office.
• The Terms used: The shift from CRB to DBS brought about a change in terminology. The previous CRB checks were replaced by the DBS checks, although the purpose and process remain similar.
• Level of Information provided: Both CRB checks and DBS checks provide information about an individual’s criminal history. However, the DBS checks offer additional levels of detail and flexibility in terms of the information disclosed. The DBS checks include information on spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands, and final warnings, depending on the level of check requested.
• The Depth of the Check: The DBS introduced a simplified system of three levels of checks, whereas the CRB checks had multiple levels and categories. The three levels of DBS checks are Basic, Standard, and Enhanced, each providing varying levels of information based on the requirements of the role.
• Versatility: Another significant difference is the concept of “portability” introduced with the DBS checks. This means that individuals can have their DBS certificate issued and then use it with multiple companies
Some of the common scenarios where a DBS or CRB check might be required are:
- Working with Children & Vulnerable adults: Roles that involve working directly with children, healthcare professionals, social workers, or support workers. This is to ensure the safety and well-being of children as well as protect individuals who may be vulnerable or in need of care.
- Education and Schools: Individuals within the education sector like teachers, need a DBS or CRB check. This is to Safeguard the students.
- Healthcare and Social Care: Doctors, nurses, healthcare assistants, and social workers, often need a DBS or CRB check due to the sensitive nature of their work
- Volunteers and Community Workers: Certain voluntary and community roles that involve regular contact with vulnerable groups may need a DBS or CRB check.
- Licensing and Regulation: Taxi drivers, security Guards/personnel, or a person applying for a gun license may need a DBS or CRB check to ensure public safety and security. It’s important to note that the DBS checks are based on the CRB checks and aimed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the process. While the main purpose and principles of both checks are the same—to provide information about an individual’s criminal record—the introduction of the DBS brought some changes in terminology, information disclosure, and the system’s overall structure. It’s essential for employers, organizations, and individuals to be aware of the specific requirements and legal obligations surrounding DBS or CRB checks, as they may vary based on the sector, job role, and relevant regulations. Staying updated with the guidelines and procedures provided by the Disclosure and Barring Service is vital to ensure compliance and effective safeguarding practices.