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DBS checks and your mental health

Explains what a DBS check is, and what you can do if you are unhappy with the information the police hold about you. This includes information about your mental health.

What show up on a basic DBS check?

A basic DBS check will only show cautions and convictions that are unspent.

You can visit the UK government’s website and enter details of your caution or conviction to check whether it is spent. You don’t have to give any personal information, just details of:

  • The type of conviction or caution you got
  • The date you got it
  • The date any conditions ended or how long your sentence was

What shows up on a standard DBS check?

A standard DBS check includes more information than a basic DBS check. It will include all unspent cautions and convictions, but also some spent ones.

Some spent cautions and convictions are not included. These are known as protected or filtered offences

Cautions and convictions for offences, known as special offences, are treated differently.

Protected or filtered offences

Certain convictions and cautions are filtered during the check process for a standard or enhanced DBS. This means they won’t show on your DBS certificate. Whether they are filtered depends on:

  • Whether you were given a caution or conviction
  • How old you were when cautioned or convicted
  • How long it is since you were cautioned or convicted

You can get more information about filtering on Unlock’s website. Or check whether your offence will be filtered on the government’s website.

Specified offences

The UK government website has a list of specified offences. There are over 1,000 but the most common ones are of a violent or sexual nature or relate to safeguarding of adults or children.

If you were cautioned for one of these offences when you were aged 18 or under, it can be removed from your DBS check. If you were over the age of 18, it will always appear on your DBS check.

If you were convicted for one of these offences (whatever your age), it will never be removed from a standard or enhanced DBS check.


  • Lysette was 17 when she was cautioned for possession of cannabis in 2005. And she was 18 when she was convicted of possession of a class A drug and sentenced to a probation order in 2006. Her caution is protected because she was under 18. It will not show up on her DBS certificate. Her conviction would become protected 11 years after the date she was convicted, in 2017. So it would not appear on any DBS certificate applied for after that date. 
  • Jack was cautioned for theft in 2008 when he was 16. And he was convicted of robbery in 2009 when he was 17. He was under 18 when he received his caution, so it would not show up on a DBS certificate. But robbery is a 'specified' offence, which means it appears on the list of offences that will never be filtered. So Jack's robbery conviction will always show up on a DBS certificate.

What shows up on an enhanced DBS check?

An enhanced check contains the same information as a standard DBS check plus any extra information held about you on local police records. It will only include this extra information if the Chief Police Officer considers it relevant.

What about an enhanced DBS with list check?

This contains the same information as an enhanced DBS check. It also includes a check of the DBS’s children’s and adults’ barred lists. This is a list of individuals who are barred from working with children or vulnerable adults. You’ll only need this level of check for jobs which involve caring for, supervising or being in sole charge of children or vulnerable adults.

Will a DBS check include information about my mental health problem?

A basic or standard DBS check won't include information about your mental health.

An enhanced DBS check will include certain information about you held on local police records, if the police consider it relevant. This is known as 'approved information'. You may also hear it called 'non-conviction information' or 'police intelligence'.

This could include information which relates to your mental health. For example, if you have ever been removed to a place of safety by the police under section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983.

But it is very rare for the police to include information on an enhanced DBS check that doesn't relate to a conviction. 

How do the police decide what information to include in a DBS check?

Before including information on your DBS certificate, the police must reasonably believe that the information is relevant and needs to be disclosed.

All information should be assessed on its own merits for inclusion or exclusion from a DBS certificate. And the police should consider the following when thinking about whether to include any information:

  • Whether the information is relevant to the job you have applied for. It should be relevant and serious enough to justify inclusion. It should also be sufficiently recent. So the police should look at how old the information is, your age at the time of any incident, and your conduct since the incident. And the information should have come from a trustworthy source. 
  • Any impact that disclosing this information has on you.
  • Whether to give you the chance to comment. The police should consider whether you should be given an opportunity to comment on the information before it is disclosed. But we understand that the police do not always do this. If you are worried about what the police might disclose, you can find out what information they have in advance. The UK government website has guidance on what you can say about information the police may release on a DBS certificate.

The police have to balance any risk posed to the public against your right to privacy.

The UK government has guidance to help the police make the decisions about what information to disclose. This guidance states that being detained under sections 135(1) or 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 is unlikely to be something the police should disclose.

The police should consider whether any behaviour that led to you being detained under these sections involved risk or harm to other people. For example, if the incident involved the threat or use of violence.

In some cases, the police may believe that information relating to your mental health is relevant to a DBS check. If they do, they should give you the chance to tell them about your current health before they decide whether to disclose the information.


Leila is 28 years old. When she was 18, she experienced significant mental health problems after her family member died.

On one occasion, she became very distressed in a shopping centre and was removed by the police to a place of safety under section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983.

She spent a few hours in a police cell before being taken to hospital to be assessed. She has been well ever since and has never had any further involvement with the police.

Leila recently applied to work in a children's home. She has been offered the job and been sent a DBS check application form. Leila is worried that the DBS certificate will include details of when she was held in a police cell.

Because her new job will involve regular unsupervised work with children, Leila will need to have an enhanced DBS check. This will include relevant information held on local police records. The police will need to decide:

  • Whether the information about Leila is relevant to the job at the children's home
  • Whether the incident is serious enough to justify inclusion

The incident in this case did not happen because Leila committed a crime. It happened 10 years ago when Leila was 18. She has not had any involvement with the police since that time. And government guidance states that being detained under section 135(1) or 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 is 'unlikely to be something the police should disclose'.

In these circumstances, it is unlikely that the police could justify including the information. If they did, Leila could ask the DBS to review her DBS certificate.

Can I find out what information a DBS check will contain in advance?

Yes. You could make a subject access request to the police to find out what information they hold about you. See our information on accessing your personal information to find out how to do this.

This information was published in December 2022. We will revise it in 2025.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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