What will show up on each type of DBS check?
There is information which helps you find out whether a conviction is spent on the gov.uk website, and a similar page on the charity Unlock’s website.
What is a protected conviction or caution?
It used to be the case that all convictions and cautions appeared on a DBS check but this practice was successfully challenged in court. Following this change, certain protected convictions or cautions which are filtered and do not appear on the DBS check.
You can fine a list of offences that will never be filtered from a DBS certificate on the gov.uk website. If you have been convicted of any of these offences, or cautioned for any any of these offences, they will always appear on your DBS certificate.
The list has over 1,000 offences on it, but some of the more common ones are:
- certain sexual offences
- offences of violence such as ABH, GBH, affray and robbery (but not common assault)
- offences relating to the supply of drugs (but not simple possession)
- safeguarding offences.
For all other offences, whether or not they appear on your DBS certificate will depend on a number of factors.
When does a caution appear on a DBS certificate?
Some types of caution are included on the list of offences that will never be filtered – these will always appear on your DBS certificate.
All other cautions will appear on your DBS unless they meet the following conditions, in which case they will be filtered and will not appear on your DBS certificate:
- Cautions received when you were aged under 18, and two years have passed since the date of the caution.
- Cautions received when you were aged 18 or older, and six years have passed since the date of the caution.
When does a conviction appear on a DBS certificate?
The term conviction includes absolute and conditional discharges, and court-imposed bind-overs.
Your conviction will always appear on your DBS certificate if:
- the conviction was for an offence on the list of offences that will never be filtered
- the conviction resulted in a custodial sentence including a suspended sentence (a hospital order under section 37 of the Mental Health Act 1983 is not a custodial sentence), or
- you have been convicted of more than one offence, in which case all of your convictions will appear on your DBS certificate. This includes when you have been convicted of more than one offence at the same court appearance.
But if all three of the following apply to you:
- You have been convicted of only one offence.
- The offence is not included on the list of offences that will never be filtered.
- You received a non-custodial sentence.
Then there are two types of conviction which will be filtered, and will not appear on your DBS certificate:
- Convictions imposed when you were aged under 18, and five-and-a-half years have passed since the date of the conviction.
- Convictions imposed when you were aged 18 or over, and 11 years have passed since the date of the conviction.
- Aaron was 17 when he was cautioned for possession of cannabis in 2003, and 18 when he was convicted of possession of a class A drug and sentenced to a probation order in 2004. His caution is protected because he was under 18 when he received it and at least two years have passed. It will not show up on his DBS certificate. His conviction would be protected from 2015 and would not appear on any DBS certificated applied for after that date.
- Lisette was convicted of four counts of theft in 1995 when she was 17, and was sentenced to 120 hours community service. Lisette has more than one conviction, so her convictions are not protected and will always show up on a DBS certificate.
- Jack was cautioned for theft in 2008 when he was 16, and convicted of robbery in 2009 when he was 17. His caution became protected after two years because he was under 18 when he received it, so it would not show up on a DBS certificate from a check carried out now. However, robbery is on the list of offences that will never be filtered, so Jack’s robbery conviction will always show up on a DBS certificate.
Will a DBS check include information about my mental health problem?
A basic or standard DBS check won’t include this information, but an enhanced DBS check will include details of any non-conviction information held about you on local police records which the police consider relevant. This is formally known as 'approved information', but is more commonly referred to as '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 (see our information on sectioning to find out more).
However, although it is possible for the police to include non-conviction information on an enhanced DBS check, it is rare that they do include it. Between October 2017 and September 2018, only 0.1% of DBS certificates included approved information from local police records.
How do the police decide what information to include?
Before including non-conviction information on your DBS certificate, the police must ‘reasonably believe’ that the information is relevant and that it ought to be disclosed. This means they should consider the following:
- There should be no presumption either in favour of or against disclosing the particular information. All information should be assessed on its own merits for inclusion or exclusion from a DBS certificate.
- Information must be relevant. Information must only be disclosed if the police reasonably believe it to be relevant to the job you have applied for. It should be serious enough to justify inclusion and should be sufficiently current, taking into account the age of the information, your age at the time of the incident and your conduct since the incident. The information should also have come from a trustworthy source.
- The impact it has on you. The police should consider how disclosing any information may have an impact on you.
The Home Office has issued guidance to the police which help with these decisions. This guidance specifically says that “The fact of detention under sections 135(1) or 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 is unlikely, in itself, to be sufficient to justify disclosure”. It goes on to say that:
- A key consideration is whether your behaviour during the course of the incident presented a particular risk or harm to others, such as by the threat or use of violence.
- They should also take into account how long ago the incident took place.
- If the police believe that mental health related information is relevant to the application for a DBS certificate then you should be given the opportunity to tell them about your current state of health before they decide whether to disclose the information.
The police have to balance any risk posed to the public against your right to privacy.