In the United Kingdom, employers possess the authority to request criminal record checks from potential job candidates. Originally established for domestic businesses, the utilization of DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks has expanded to encompass UK companies operating internationally. This extension is rooted in the fact that individuals with a criminal record in the UK are registered with law enforcement authorities. These checks play a pivotal role in the meticulous vetting and selection of suitable candidates for employment.
The Role of DBS
Formerly known as the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB), the task of identifying criminal records now falls under the jurisdiction of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). In Scotland, this process is administered by Disclosure Scotland, while in Northern Ireland, Access NI handles it. While not obligatory for every candidate from a legal standpoint, many companies and organizations now insist on DBS checks.
In England, Wales, and Scotland, the Police National Computer (PNC) maintains the criminal record database, while Northern Ireland maintains its own distinct database. When a request for a background check is started, the inquiry is forwarded to the PNC, which is responsible for issuing the DBS Certificate. Typically, the process is completed within approximately 24-48 hours, with Basic Checks costing £18, and Standard and Enhanced checks priced at £38.
Basic DBS Check: A Streamlined Application
The most commonly requested check is the Basic Check, which is available to individuals aged 16 and above. Applicants are required to furnish their basic details such as proof of address for the past five years, date of birth, national insurance number, and identification proof. Applying for a Basic Check is a straightforward process, as it can be completed online by creating an account and utilizing a generated one-time password. This check is the quickest and encompasses fundamental information, such as unspent convictions.
Rehabilitation of Offenders (ROA) and Standard Checks
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA), established in 1974, was designed to address discrimination against individuals with previous convictions. Under this legislation, once a person has undergone rehabilitation, they should not face unjust discrimination when seeking employment. Employers are restricted from seeking a background check if the role in question does not necessitate it.
Standard Checks: A Comprehensive Process
Standard checks are more intricate and may take up to 14 business days or longer. They encompass final warnings, reprimands, police cautions, and all convictions. When an employer requests a Standard Check, it must adhere to the ROA guidelines, meaning that the nature of the job must justify the need for the check. Standard checks are often mandated in the financial sector to ensure that individuals with prior convictions related to fraud are not employed. Employers or responsible organizations can initiate a request for a Standard Check. If an employer requires fewer than 100 checks per year, they must go through a Responsible Organization (RO) to facilitate the requests.
Enhanced DBS Checks: Comprehensive and Trustworthy
The Enhanced DBS Check, formerly known as the CRB Check, is the most extensive background check, priced at £38. It is typically required for positions that demand the utmost trustworthiness and ethical conduct. Professions involving contact with children or vulnerable adults necessitate Enhanced Checks. Consequently, candidates seeking employment in hospitals or schools are usually advised to undergo this check. While the Enhanced Check provides comprehensive information, it does not automatically include checks against the barred list, which contains the names of individuals prohibited from working with children or vulnerable adults, unless specifically requested.