Criminal record checks and disclosure | Nacro
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Criminal record checks and disclosure – what shows up?

Your criminal record is held on a central database called the Police National Computer. When you apply for jobs, college or university, for insurance or for housing you may be asked to disclose your criminal record and complete a DBS check.

There are four different types of DBS checks – these are basic, standard, enhanced and enhanced + barred.

Information that may be included Basic DBS check Standard DBS check Enhanced DBS check Enhanced and barred DBS check
Unspent convictions
Spent convictions (that are not protected)
Cautions (that are not protected)
Inclusion on the children’s barred list (where relevant to the post)
Inclusion on the adults’ barred list (where relevant to the post)
Other relevant information+

This includes information about allegations, arrests, matters that resulted in no further action or not guilty verdicts. This information is not automatically included on enhanced DBS certificates.

In May 2013, the government introduced a filtering system that allows certain minor cautions and convictions to be removed or filtered from standard and enhanced DBS certificates. A protected caution or conviction is eligible for filtering and does not need to be disclosed for jobs that are subject to standard or enhanced DBS checks. In 2020, filtering rules were amended which means multiple eligible convictions can now be filtered along with all youth cautions. Read more about filtering here.

If you were convicted of a motoring offence (i.e. admitted guilt or were found guilty in court), this will form part of your criminal record and will show up in a DBS check unless it is subject to filtering (see above).

If you received a fixed penalty notice (FPN) for a minor motoring offence you are legally required to disclose this even though this information may not appear on a DBS check. If you opted to attend a driver awareness course in place of accepting an FPN, again this will not form part of your criminal record and will not need to be disclosed when filling in your DBS form.

No. A Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) and a Penalty Notice for Disorder (PND) are on-the-spot fines issued by the police for very minor offences. If you pay an FPN or PND within the specified time-limit, all liability for the offence is discharged and the offence does not form part of your criminal record.

This sort of information, known as police intelligence or other relevant information, will not appear on a basic or standard DBS certificate. It is not routinely disclosed on an enhanced DBS certificate, but the police have the opportunity to disclose any information that they feel is relevant to the position and therefore may be included.

In determining whether or not to disclose this sort of information, the police must follow a decision-making framework, justifying their reasoning at each stage of the process. This framework is known as the Quality Assurance Framework. Please see relevant documents below:

  1. The Statutory Disclosure Guidance that police must adhere to when deciding whether to disclose information
  2. The GD2 Disclosure Text Guidance (p6) which shows the template that police must use when disclosing information.

When the police are deciding whether information ought to be included, they must satisfy three tests:

  • Relevance – is the information relevant to the position/job being applied for? Under this test, the police will also consider whether the information is sufficiently current, taking into account how long ago the incident occurred, the age of the applicant at the time of the incident and their conduct since.
  • Truth – does the information come from a credible source?
  • Proportionality – the police must decide whether by not disclosing the information on the certificate, they are placing vulnerable groups at risk of harm or, if by disclosing it, they are breaching the applicant’s human right to a private life.

You cannot find out for certain whether or not police intelligence will be disclosed on your enhanced DBS certificate. However, because DBS certificates are now only issued to applicants, and the police may write to you outlining their intentions to disclose information, you have the opportunity to dispute any information that has been disclosed before showing the certificate to your employer.

If you would like advice on disputing the inclusion of police intelligence, please contact Nacro’s Criminal Record Support Service on 0300 123 1999 or

If you have been caught with a small amount of cannabis for personal use, you may have been issued a cannabis warning by the police. This is different from accepting a police caution. Cannabis warnings are recorded by the police but do not form part of your criminal record and do not need to be disclosed when applying for jobs, courses or employment. They are not covered by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and do not have a rehabilitation period.

A community resolution order is an out of court disposal that may be issued by the police for a low-level offence including theft (under £100), criminal damage (under £300), public order and minor assault.

If you have agreed to comply with a community resolution order, this information will be recorded by the police but it will not form part of your criminal record. You do not need to declare this when applying for jobs, courses, or employment. Community resolution orders are not covered by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and do not have a rehabilitation period. They can be disclosed as police intelligence on enhanced DBS checks, but this is unusual.

A pending matter remains an allegation unless, or until, you either admit guilt or are found guilty. Allegations are not disclosed on basic or standard DBS certificates. An allegation or pending matter may be disclosed on an enhanced DBS certificate at the discretion of the police.

If you secure employment before attending court for a pending matter, and you either plead guilty or admit guilt, you will have a conviction which you may need to disclose to your new employer.

The police retain details of convictions and cautions on the Police National Computer (PNC) until a person reaches 100 years of age. The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)Disclosure Scotland and Access Northern Ireland use the PNC as their main source of information when processing standard or enhanced disclosure certificates.

Standard or enhanced certificates are only eligible for roles that are not covered by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. This means the employer is entitled to take into account all cautions and convictions you have received that are not protected (i.e. eligible to be filtered from your DBS certificate).

Filtering legislation was introduced in England and Wales in 2013, in Northern Ireland in April 2014 and in Scotland in September 2015. The filtering rules are different in each jurisdiction. If your adult caution or conviction is not eligible to be filtered, it will always be disclosed on your standard or enhanced certificate even if it doesn’t seem relevant to the role you are applying for.

Possibly. If you were convicted in an EU country, the conviction details will be passed to the UK’s Central Authority for the Exchange of Criminal Records (UK-ECR). If the equivalent offence in England and Wales is deemed ‘recordable’, it will be added to the Police National Computer (PNC). If you reside in Scotland or Northern Ireland, the information will be forwarded to the Scottish Police Services Authority (SPSA) and/or the Police Service in Northern Ireland (PSNI).

The UK has bilateral agreements for the exchange of criminal record information with a large number of countries outside of the EU. If you were convicted in a country outside of the EU, this information may be passed to the Non-EU Exchange of Criminal Records (NEU-ECR) and updated on the PNC accordingly.

You can find out if your conviction details have been recorded on the PNC by applying for a Subject Access Request. If you find that the information has been recorded and you are applying for a criminal record certificate, your record will be treated in line with the relevant legislation as it applies in the country you are applying to. For further details about what will show on different levels of criminal record certificates.


Additional information

Criminal recrod support service staff member on Nacro helpline

You can contact us on 0300 123 1999

Monday – Thursday: 9am – 5pm
Friday: 1pm – 5pm

Our advisors can help you with any questions you may have.

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