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Truth and Lies: Revealing the Myths Surrounding DBS Checks

DBS Checks are an unknown entity to many and as a result, we do hear some weird and wonderful myths about DBS Checks (formally known as a CRB check) and the process to obtain them.

Here are a few pointers based on the most common misconceptions we hear about DBS Checks.


"You can’t pass or fail a DBS Check"

A DBS Check will show any information held on an individual’s criminal record. If you do not have a criminal record your Certificate will come back with no information on it.

If you do have a criminal record (caution, warning, reprimand or conviction) this will be detailed on your DBS Certificate.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you will have ‘failed’ the check, by law an employer must take into account the type of offence, the amount of time lapsed since the offence was committed and whether this offence(s) is relevant to the role you are working in/applying for.


"DBS Checks don’t officially expire"

There is no official expiry date on a DBS Check, it’s up to the organisations carrying out the checks on their staff how often they would like to renew them. Some companies renew every year and some every 3 years.

It is important to remember when adding DBS Check renewals into your recruitment policy that the check is only as recent as the date it is printed.

You will not be informed of any subsequent criminal information added to an employees’ record after the DBS Check has been carried out.


"Individuals can’t get a Standard or Enhanced check"

An individual can only access a basic disclosure which will show any unspent criminal convictions on your record.

The only way a Standard or Enhanced DBS Check can be carried out on you is if an employer/potential employer/organisation you volunteer for obtains one for you.

The reason for this is because Standard and Enhanced checks are a tool to aid employers in making a sound recruitment decision on their employees.

We often have calls from individuals who have been instructed by the company they work for to obtain a Standard or Enhanced DBS Check, you will not be able to do this unless they apply for you.


"Having a criminal record doesn't always stop you from finding employment"

If you have any offences which are relevant to the role you are applying for i.e. if you are banned from working with children or adults in a vulnerable position then you will be unable to work in those areas.

However, if the offence is not relevant to the role you are applying for the ‘Rehabilitation of Offenders Act’ states that you must still have the same chance of employment as somebody without a criminal record.


"DBS Checks are not automatically portable"

It is a common misconception now the Update service has been introduced that all DBS Checks are now portable. This is only the case if the applicant has signed up to the Update Service.

Once a DBS Check is carried out, the applicant has 19 days to register for the update service and pay an annual fee of £13.

If the applicant is signed up to the update service a new employer can log on to the applicant's area (with their permission) to see if any criminal information has been added to their record since their last certificate was issued.

This means that a new DBS Check does not need to be applied for in this instance. However, if the result of the Update service check is that something has changed since the applicants’ last certificate, a new DBS certificate will need to be applied for.

If the applicant is not signed up to the Update Service, then a new DBS Check must be applied for each time an employer wants to renew a check or a new employer wants to carry out a check.

Find out more about the Update Service

"There is no legal requirement for anybody to have a DBS Check"

Possibly the most common misconception we hear about DBS Checks is that they are required by law, however, this is not the case.

Many companies and organisations state that employers must have a DBS Check i.e. OFSTED and CQC, however, these are policies and procedures they have put in place for best practice purposes. They were not instructed by law to do so.


These are the most common myths we come across here at Personnel Checks, but if you have heard others and would like to know if they are truth or lies, please call our free helpline and speak with an advisor.

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