My client doesn’t know what is on their criminal record. How can they find out?

Is an employer or course provider entitled to ask my client to apply for a criminal record certificate?

What sort of check is an employer or course provider entitled to request?

An employer or course provider is requesting an illegal check. What should my client do?

What will be disclosed on the different checks?

Will details of allegations, arrests, matters that resulted in no further action or not guilty verdicts be disclosed on my client’s criminal record check?

My client is due to attend court for a pending matter. Will this appear on their criminal record certificate?

My client doesn’t know what is on their criminal record. How can they find out?

The Data Protection Act 1998 gives individuals the right to apply for a copy of any personal data held about them.

If your client is not sure what information is on their criminal record they can apply for a subject access request through the Public Access or Data Protection Office of their regional police force headquarters. The forms are usually available to download on the relevant police force’s website.

Alternatively, the Association of Chief Police Officers’ (ACPO) Criminal Records Office (ACRO) also provides a subject access request service for the majority of police forces. Please go to the ACPO Criminal Records Office website for further details.

When completing the subject access request form, your client can request a copy of their Police National Computer record, which will provide details of all convictions, cautions, final warnings and reprimands held on their criminal record. This is the information that will definitely be disclosed on standard or enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks, unless it is protected (i.e. eligible for filtering). If your client would also like details of their local records, which may be disclosed on enhanced DBS checks at the discretion of the relevant chief constable, they can apply for their full nominal record from the police force that holds the information. You will need to visit the relevant police force’s website to find the right form.

Is an employer or course provider entitled to ask my client to apply for a criminal record certificate?

Yes. All employers and course providers are entitled to ask your client to apply for some type of criminal record check, but the type of check they are entitled to request will depend on the job or course for which you client is applying.

All employers and course providers are entitled to ask, and know, about any unspent convictions your client may have. They are therefore entitled to request a basic disclosure, which will provide details of unspent convictions.

If your client applies for a job or course which is exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (ROA), the employer or course provider is entitled to ask them to apply for a standard or enhanced DBS certificate.

If your client applies for a job or course that requires security clearance, the employer or course provider is entitled to ask your client to complete the security clearance questionnaire which will include questions about their criminal record.

What sort of check is an employer or course provider entitled to request?

This will depend on the nature of the job or course for which your client is applying. The employer or course provider should make it clear from the advertisement if a check will be required and, if so, which type of check and at what stage the check will be carried out.

Table A: Rehabilitation periods for custodial sentences and community sentences

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 Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) 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).
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)

An employer or course provider is requesting an illegal check. What should my client do?

A check is illegal if:

  • The employer or course provider has requested a standard or enhanced DBS check for a position that is only eligible for a basic check.
  • The employer or course provider has requested an enhanced DBS check for a position that is only eligible for a basic or standard DBS check.
  • The employer or course provider has requested an enhanced and barred DBS check for a position that is not defined as regulated activity with children or adults.

If your client has been asked to apply for a check that you believe is illegal, you or your client can:

Contact Nacro’s Resettlement Advice Service

We can advise on whether the check is legal and we can contact organisations on your client’s behalf to raise a concern, without disclosing your client’s details. Contact us on 0300 123 1999 or helpline@nacro.org.uk.

Contact DBS customer services

Your client can complete the DBS application form, make a note of the reference number on the form and contact DBS customer services by emailing customerservices@dbs.gsi.gov.uk. The subject line should contain ‘Application eligibility query – urgent’ and the email should include the following details:

  • Client’s name and full address
  • Client’s DOB
  • DBS reference number
  • Position applied for

What will be disclosed on the different checks?

Information that may be includedBasic 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)
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. For more information, please see here.

Will details of allegations, arrests, matters that resulted in no further action or not guilty verdicts be disclosed on my client’s criminal record certificate?

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 or course 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:

+ The Statutory Disclosure Guidance that police must adhere to when deciding whether to disclose information

+ 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 – is the information 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 police intelligence will be disclosed on your client’s enhanced DBS certificate. However, as DBS certificates are now issued to applicants only, your client will have the opportunity to dispute any information that has been disclosed prior to showing the certificate to their employer or course provider.

If you would like advice on disputing the inclusion of police intelligence, please contact Nacro’s Employer Advice Service on 0845 600 3194 or helpline@nacro.org.uk.

My client is due to attend court for a pending matter. Will this appear on their criminal record certificate?

A pending matter remains an allegation unless, or until, your client either admits guilt or is found guilty in court. 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. For further details, please see here.

If your client secures employment before attending court for a pending matter, and they either plead guilty or admit guilt, your client will have a conviction which they may need to disclose to their new employer. Please see here for more details.