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The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) have launched a basic check service for people living and/or working in England and Wales. This replaces the service previously offered by Disclosure Scotland.

What are basic checks?

A basic check is the lowest level of criminal record certification available in the UK. They reveal details of any cautions or convictions which are unspent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (as amended).

All employers and course providers are entitled, as a minimum, to request details of unspent convictions from prospective applicants and may request that you consent to a basic criminal record check.

What is changing?

In September 2017, the DBS launched a pilot phase of providing a basic check service to four registered organisations (known as ‘Responsible Organisations’). These organisations provide a criminal record checking service on behalf of certain employers.

On 17 January 2018, DBS launched an online process through which individuals can apply directly for their own basic criminal record certificate.

Disclosure Scotland will continue to process basic check applications for people and organisations in Scotland, but will no longer provide the basic check service on behalf of people and organisations in England and Wales.

How can I apply for a basic check?

You can apply online directly to the DBS by setting up an online account. Your identity will be verified either by GOV.UK Verify (online) or by the Post Officer. You will have access to your certificate online (known as an eCertificate) and you can choose for a paper copy to be sent to you or a nominated third party.

You can also apply via a registered Responsible Organisation that is registered with the DBS to submit applications via the DBS online service. Please see here for details of current registered organisations.

My employer is applying for a basic check on my behalf. Where will the results go?

Your employer may be registered as a Responsible Organisation with the DBS, or they may be using a Responsible Organisation to process their applications. Either way, you can choose whether the certificate is issued to you directly, or to an alternative address.

Your employer may request that you have the certificate sent directly to them, but this is ultimately your choice. Any criminal record certificate may contain inaccuracies; if the certificate is sent to you, it gives you the opportunity to dispute any inaccuracies before sharing it with your employer.

However, when a registered organisation applies for a basic check, they can request an electronic result (an eResult).

The eResult will not disclose any information contained on the certificate, but will indicate whether any information has been disclosed. There are two possible eResults:

  1. A blank response: this indicates that no unspent convictions have been disclosed on the basic certificate.
  2. The organisation is advised to wait to view the paper basic certificate: this suggests that something has been disclosed on the certificate but no details are provided in the eResult.

If you are worried about information that may be disclosed on your basic check, or would like advice about whether your convictions are spent, contact our Resettlement Advice Service on 0300 123 1999 or helpline@nacro.org.uk.

Can I get a copy of my basic check certificate online?

Yes. When you apply for your basic check online, you will need to set up an online account with the DBS. This will allow you access to an eCertificate.

If your employer applies for a check on your behalf (with your informed consent), you will be asked if you wish to provide consent to the lead contact of the Responsible Organisation to view your online certificate.

Where can I get further advice about criminal record checks?

If you are an individual and would like information or advice about the new basic check service, or criminal record checks more broadly, please contact our Resettlement Advice Service on 0300 123 1999 or helpline@nacro.org.uk.

If you are an employer or organisation wanting some advice about the criminal record check process, or recruiting people with criminal records, please contact our dedicated Employer Advice Service on 0845 600 3194 or employeradvice@nacro.org.uk.