Criminal background checks are a common component in the recruitment process. They help employers gain a higher level of confidence in the history of their employees, while minimising the chance that employees of customers will come to harm.
Commonly carried out via the disclosure and barring service (or DBS for short), a non-departmental government body, it’s important that businesses understand where these checks are necessary, and what kind of check should be carried out for different positions.
What is a DBS check?
DBS checks are the most common type of criminal background check in the UK. They’re used to look into an individuals domestic criminal record (they won’t typically list any crimes that were committed in different countries) and to find out if they’re on any lists that would bar them from working in certain positions. There are three main different kinds of DBS check.
The basic DBS check is the lowest level of check available. It’s unregulated, in the sense that it can be carried out for any position, either by an organisation (with the individual’s consent) or by an individual themselves. The basic check is not very comprehensive – it only looks for unspent criminal convictions, warnings and reprimands, and is a common requirement for a wide range of different roles, from hospitality to retail.
The standard check is one level up from the basic check, and it looks for both spent and unspent criminal convictions, warnings and reprimands. It’s regulated, and can only be requested for certain positions, such as those with a high professional standard in the legal and financial niches.
The enhanced check is the highest level check that can be carried out. It looks for spent and unspent criminal convictions, warnings and reprimands, and will also include any information that the local police department considers relevant to the position being applied to. Like the standard check, the enhanced check can only be carried out for certain positions, typically those with unsupervised contact with children and vulnerable adults in education, childcare, and healthcare.
Do you need to carry out a DBS check for your employees?
While the basic check can be useful, it’s rarely a legal requirement to have one carried out on candidates and employees. However, there are a range of regulated roles for which you have a legal duty to carry out either enhanced or standard checks.
If you’re unsure about how you should do this, it can be useful to contact a third-party service such as Personnel Checks, who can provide you with further advice and help to ensure that you remain compliant with any relevant regulations.
This should have provided you with the basic foundational knowledge to start to understand DBS checks in a business context. DBS checks can be a very useful tool when it comes to safeguarding your business and employees, and it’s important that you know how to use them effectively. For positions where they’re a legal requirement, it’s definitely worth reaching out to a specialist service for further clarification on what you need to do.