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What is a DBS certificate, and what information does it contain?

A DBS certificate is a legal document, sent out by the Disclosure and Barring Service within the UK Government. It is often a requirement of several roles that you may want to work within, especially those that mean that you will be dealing with sensitive information or vulnerable people.

Within the DBS certificate, you will find details of criminal convictions, both spent and unspent, as well as cautions, reprimands and warnings that are held in the Police National Computer.

How can I apply for a DBS certificate in the UK?

If you want to apply for a DBS certificate in the UK then you can visit the GOV.UK website will allow you to validate your identity online and apply for the DBS to be carried out. The basic level of this costs £18 currently.

If you are unable to apply for this online for any reason, then you should visit a local Post Office and request verification there.

What are the different types of DBS checks, and which one do I need for my job role?

There are four levels of DBS checks that you can apply for. The first is a Basic Check, this will often be the level that is applied for and will lead to a certificate that contains details of any convictions and some cautions that are considered to be unspent. This can be applied for, by an individual, through the online portal, or it can be applied for by an employer if they have consent of the person.
Next is the Standard DBS Check. This will be the required level of some roles, for example, if you are applying to be a security guard. This will will detail all of the spent and unspent, convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings that are held on the individual by the Police National Computer. It will not show any that are subject to filtering.

You cannot apply for this level of DBS check yourself, this will need to be through a recruiting organisation.

The next level is the Enhanced DBS Check, this will be the level required for those who work with children or adults in certain circumstances, such as personal care. It will contain the same details as the standard certificate, however, it will also contain non-conviction information that has been supplied as it is relevant to the certificate.

Again, an individual cannot apply for this level of DBS check.

Finally, there is the Enhanced with Barred Lists DBS Check. This will be used by those who are working with children and adults, particularly if they receive health and personal care. It will contain all the information that is found on the DBS certificates, but it will also look at the Barred lists.

Can I view my own DBS certificate online, and how do I register for this service?

If you have applied for or had a DBS check sent in on your behalf, then you can view your DBS certificate online. You will need to sign up for and log into a DBS online account. This can be completed online on he GOV.UK website. In doing this, you will be able to follow the Manage DBS checks link, which allows you to see your certificate.

What is the processing time for DBS certificates, and can I expedite it if needed?

It is important to know that a DBS check can take time to process, particularly if you are applying for one of the higher-level checks. The quickest to be returned is usually the Basic DBS which can be returned in 24 hours in some circumstances.

However, if you are applying for an enhanced DBS check, then you may have to wait as much as 4 weeks for it to be returned to you or your employer.

Is a DBS check the same as a police certificate, and how are they used differently?

It is easy to see why people would confuse these two types of certificates. But, they are different and have different uses. The DBS is designed primarily for the employment industry as a way to check the background of potential employees.

The ACRO Police Certificate is not going to be able to be accepted within the UK for an employment application. It is usually used for Visa applications. Something that a DBS Certificate cannot be used for.

If I have previous convictions, will they show up on my DBS certificate?

If you apply for a DBS certificate, then both the Standard and Enhanced DBS will contain details of both convictions and cautions, this will exclude any that were obtained during your youth. That said, any cautions or convictions that are protected, will not appear on this search.

Are DBS certificates transferable between different job positions or employers?

If you have had a DBS Certificate issued with one employer, but, you are moving to another, then you can take your DBS certificates with you, so long as they are still valid. That said, you may find that your employer would like you to have a new certificate and a new check carried out.

Also, if you are changing the type of job or role, then you may find that your current level of DBS check is not going to be high enough for your new role.

Who is responsible for paying the fees associated with obtaining a DBS certificate?

If your employer requires you to have a DBS check carried out as a part of your job application process, then you should expect them to pay any associated fees that are required. If you decide to have a Basic DBS check carried out (the only one that an individual can apply for themselves) then you will pay for this.

Can an employer request a DBS check without my consent, and what are my rights in this situation?

It is unlawful for anyone to carry out a DBS check, without the consent of the named person. During the application process for a DBS Certificate, the individual needs to sign a declaration that they are happy for it to be carried out.

Therefore, if someone has carried out a DBS check without your consent, then you may want to try and secure legal advice.

Do DBS certificates have an expiration date, and do I need to renew them?

Whilst there is no expiration date on a DBS Certificate, it is important to recognise that the information that is held on the Certificate is only relevant up to the time that it was applied for. This means that any subsequent convictions would not show up on the Certificate. The only way to find out any updated information is to apply for a new certificate.

What should I do if there is incorrect or outdated information on my DBS certificate?

If you believe that there is a mistake on your DBS Certificate, or that any information is outdated, then you should visit the GOV.UK website, where you will find a section that allows you to dispute the mistake.

What is the purpose of the Barred List check in an Enhanced DBS certificate?

Two Barred lists are a part of the Enhanced DBS checks. These lists are designed to help to ensure that organisations are recruiting safely and that those who are vulnerable, are protected the best that they can be.

One list is for those who are barred from working with children, the other is the list that contains those who are barred from working with vulnerable adults.

Can I use my DBS certificate for multiple job applications, or do I need a separate one for each employer?

If you applied for and obtained a DBS Certificate for one job role, this is transferable between jobs. However, you should be aware that many employers will ask for a new check to be carried out with them, just to ensure that the information is the most up-to-date that it can be.

How can I check the progress of my DBS certificate application if I haven’t received it yet?

If you have applied for a Standard or Enhanced DBS, then you can track this application online using the DBS tracking service. To do this you will need an application reference number and your date of birth, to help you to track it.

What happens if I lose my DBS certificate, and how can I obtain a replacement copy?

If you have lost your DBS certificate then you can speak to the DBS directly and ask them to reprint the certificate for you. It is important to know that they will only ever issue one replacement copy of a Certificate. If you lose the replacement, then you may need to get a whole new check carried out.

Are there any job roles or situations where a DBS check is not required in the UK?

Many jobs in the UK do not require you to have a DBS Certificate. You usually only need to have one if you are working with children or vulnerable adults or you are working in the finance or security industry, which can often be a target for criminal activity.

How long should I keep my DBS certificate, and who should I share it with?

Your DBS Certificate may be kept by your employer, but more often than not, you will keep hold of it. Therefore, it is down to you how long you keep it. It should be as least for the first 6 months after it is sent out, just in case your employer needs to see it again.

You can only share your DBS Certificate with those within your organisation. Unless there is a relevant legal exception.

What are the implications of having a criminal record on my DBS certificate for my job prospects?

The nature of your job role and the type of conviction that appears on your record will be a part of the decision on whether or not you can be considered for certain job roles. Crimes that include theft and fraud could stop you from getting a job in areas such as finance or if you are required to handle cash.

If your conviction is spent, and it does not mean that you are unsuitable for the role that you are being considered for, then the employer is not allowed, legally, to discriminate against you.

Can I challenge or appeal the results of a DBS check if I believe there are inaccuracies or unfair disclosures?

If you believe that there is an error or mistake on your DBS check, then you can raise a dispute directly with DBS. This will then lead to an appeal, which, if agreed, will mean that the record is deleted from your certificate and checked.

If you did not apply for the check yourself, then your recruiter can do this on your behalf.

Where can I find training on DBS Certificates?

Learn Q provide a DBS Certificate course for just £17.50 which aims to provide students with an overview of the Disclosure and Barring System. This includes who is eligible to apply for a DBS, reasons why they can or cannot, and how to apply for one. Maintaining compliance and protecting your customers and employees can be made easier with DBS Certificate training in your industry.

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