Can I ask an applicant to provide a copy of their police records?

What sort of check am I entitled to request?

What is meant by ‘protected’ cautions and convictions?

I don’t understand the information that has been disclosed on a criminal record certificate. Where can I get advice?

A criminal record certificate is not giving me enough information. How can I find out more about the offences that have been disclosed?

There is a discrepancy between the information that the applicant disclosed and the information on their criminal record check. What should I do?

Can I ask an applicant to provide a copy of their police records?

No. An individual can get a copy of their police records by applying for a subject access request, but Section 56 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) makes it a criminal offence for an employer to require an applicant or employee to carry out an enforced subject access request and then share the information with the employer.

A subject access request provides all personal information held about an individual on the Police National Computer (PNC) and local police records. Employers who carry out enforced subject access requests face criminal prosecution by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and an unlimited fine.

What sort of check am I entitled to request?

This will depend on the nature of the role that you are recruiting for. It is important to make sure that you are completely clear on the type of check you are entitled to request before you advertise the position.

Basic checks

EligibilityAll employers are entitled to ask and know about any unspent convictions an applicant may have. All employers are therefore entitled to request an applicant to apply for/provide a basic check, which will disclose details of unspent convictions.
PostsAny (paid or voluntary)
Application processAn individual in England and Wales can apply for a basic check directly through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). Alternatively, the organisation and individual is applying to can request a check on behalf of the individual, with their consent. Access Northern Ireland process basic checks on behalf of individuals and organisations based in Northern Ireland.
Costs£25 through DBS and Disclosure Scotland (plus administrative costs if applied for via an intermediary). £26 through Access Northern Ireland.

Standard checks

EligibilityIf you are recruiting for a position that is exempt from the ROA, you are entitled to ask applicants to apply for a standard DBS check, which will provide details of spent and unspent convictions, cautions, final warnings and reprimands that are not protected (i.e. eligible for filtering).
Posts (including but not limited to)Accountants, barristers, Financial Conduct Authority approved persons, members of the Master Locksmiths Association, Security Industry Authority licence holders, solicitors, traffic wardens.
Application processThe employer may register with the DBS or use an umbrella body to submit the application to the DBS.
Costs£26

Enhanced DBS checks

EligibilityIf you are recruiting for a position that is exempt from the ROA and is included in the Police Act 1997, you are entitled to ask applicants to apply for an enhanced DBS check. This will provide details of spent and unspent convictions, cautions, final warnings and reprimands that are not protected (i.e. eligible for filtering). The police may also include any other information they feel may be relevant to the application.
Posts (including but not limited to)Roles including work with children (as defined by regulation 5C of the Police Act 1997) and work with adults (as defined by regulation 5B of the Police Act 1997), taxi licences.
Application processThe employer may register with the DBS or use an umbrella body to submit the application to the DBS.
Costs£44

Enhanced and barred DBS checks

EligibilityIf you are recruiting for a role that is defined as regulated activity with children or adults under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (as amended) you are legally obliged to check the applicant’s barred list status and may ask them to apply for an enhanced and barred DBS check.
Posts (including but not limited to)Teachers, registered health care professionals, social workers, carers.
Application processThe employer may register with the DBS or use an umbrella body to submit the application to the DBS.
Costs£44

Information that can be disclosed on each type of disclosure check

Information that may be includedBasic DBS checkStandard DBS checkEnhanced DBS checkEnhanced and barred DBS check
Information that may be includedBasic DBS checkStandard DBS checkEnhanced DBS checkEnhanced and barred DBS check
Unspent convictions
Spent convictions (that are not protected)
Cautions, reprimands and final warnings (that are not protected)
Police intelligence
Inclusion on the children's barred list (where requested)
Inclusion on the adults' barred list (where requested)

What is meant by ‘protected’ cautions and convictions?

Protected cautions and convictions are those that are eligible to be filtered from standard and enhanced DBS certificates.

Previously, if a role was exempt from the ROA, an employer was entitled to know about an applicant’s full criminal record history. However, on 29 May 2013, changes were made to legislation that allowed for certain minor offences to be removed or filtered from standard or enhanced DBS certificates. Cautions or convictions that are eligible to be filtered are known as ‘protected’. For more information about filtering, please see here.

I don’t understand the information that has been disclosed on a criminal record certificate. Where can I get advice?

Criminal record information that might be disclosed on a certificate is very limited. Where a caution or conviction is disclosed, you will often be given details only of the date of caution or conviction, the offence category and the sentence or disposal. Trying to understand and interpret this information requires a certain level of understanding of the criminal justice system and related terminology, which can often be a problem for employers.

If you would like advice on any information that has been disclosed on a criminal record certificate, please contact Nacro’s Employer Advice Service on 0845 600 3194 or employeradvice@nacro.org.uk.

A criminal record certificate is not giving me enough information. How can I find out more about the offences that have been disclosed?

The best way to find out about the circumstances of offences or other information which may have been disclosed on a DBS check is to ask the applicant.

Under the Police Act 1997, the police have a legal obligation to provide the DBS with access to information held on the PNC. The DBS has a duty to disclose that information on standard and enhanced DBS checks. If you have concerns about the information that has been disclosed by the DBS, or if it is not as you expected, you should discuss your concerns with the applicant/employee and carry out a risk assessment.

If there is a serious public protection issue, the police have the means to disclose such information to employers both with and without the involvement of the DBS. During an enhanced DBS check application, the police have an opportunity to disclose any other information that is deemed relevant to the role applied for. Additionally, under the notifiable occupations scheme, the police may disclose relevant information to employers. The notifiable occupations scheme will apply if an applicant is under MAPPA or subject to any civil orders made as a result of a sexual offence.