Explains what a DBS check is, and what you can do if you are unhappy with the information held about you by the police, including information about your mental health.
The type of check you have determines what information will show up.
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.
Protected convictions or cautions are convictions or cautions which are filtered during the DBS check process - this means that they will not appear on the DBS certificate.
It used to be the case that all convictions and cautions would appear on a DBS check, until this practice was successfully challenged in court. Following this court case, the law was changed, and now certain types of conviction or caution will not appear on your DBS check.
There are some offences which will never be filtered from a DBS check (so they will always appear on your DBC certificate). You can find a list of these offences on the gov.uk website.
The list has over 1,000 offences on it, but some of the more common ones are:
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.
For all other offences, whether or not they appear on your DBS certificate will depend on a number of factors.
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:
The term conviction includes absolute and conditional discharges, and court-imposed bind-overs.
Your conviction will always appear on your DBS certificate if:
But if all three of the following apply to you:
Then there are two types of conviction which will be filtered, and will not appear on your DBS certificate:
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.
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:
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:
The police have to balance any risk posed to the public against your right to privacy.
Leila is 28 years old. When she was 18, she experienced significant mental health problems following a family bereavement. 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 under the Mental Health Act 1983. 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 non-conviction information held on local police records. However, the police will need to decide:
The incident in this case did not happen because Leila committed a crime, but purely because she was mentally unwell. It happened 10 years ago when Leila was 18, and she has not had any involvement with the police since that time. Also, the guidance on disclosure says: 'The fact of detention under section 135(1) or 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 is unlikely, in itself, to be sufficient to justify disclosure.'
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 personal information to find out how to do this.
You can ask the Disclosure and Barring Service to carry out a review of your certificate if:
To do this, you need to complete a certificate dispute form. You can find a link to download the certificate dispute form, as well as guidance to help you complete the form, on the gov.uk website.
Make sure you do this within three months of the date on the certificate. The Disclosure and Barring Service will then pass the dispute to the relevant police force to reconsider.
If you have any queries you can call the DBS customer services helpline on 03000 200 190.
If you apply for a review of your DBS certificate, a few different things may happen as a result:
This is a check of your criminal record which will show details of all spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings held on central police records (apart from protected convictions and cautions) plus additional information held on local police records that is reasonably considered relevant to the job in question.See our full list of legal terms.
This is a check of your criminal record which will show details of all spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings held on central police records (apart from protected convictions and cautions).See our full list of legal terms.
A check of your criminal record which will show your convictions and cautions which are not spent. You can apply for a basic DBS check yourself if you live or work in England or Wales.See our full list of legal terms.
This is a check of your criminal record which will show the same as an enhanced DBS check, but will also include a check of the Disclosure and Barring Service’s (DBS) children’s and adults’ barred lists. These are lists of individuals who are barred from working with children or vulnerable adults.See our full list of legal terms.
This is a finding by a court in Great Britain or overseas that you have committed a criminal act.
This will include findings of service disciplinary offences in the Court Martial if you are or were a member of the armed forces.
It will also include when you have been given a conditional discharge or an absolute discharge for an offence. You will have a conviction for an offence whether you pleaded guilty or were found guilty following a trial.See our full list of legal terms.
This could be two different things:
When a person is convicted of a crime, that conviction is considered to be irrelevant after a set amount of time (the rehabilitation period), except in very limited circumstances.
After the rehabilitation period for a conviction has lapsed, the conviction is referred to as 'spent'. This period of time varies according to the sentence received.
A conviction is described as 'unspent' if the rehabilitation period associated with it has not yet lapsed.
Simple cautions become spent immediately at the moment they are issued, while conditional cautions become spent after three months.See our full list of legal terms.
This is a conviction or caution that, after a period of time, can be treated as if it never existed and no longer needs to be disclosed in a basic DBS check.
Simple cautions become spent immediately at the moment they are issued, while conditional cautions become spent after three months.
Spent convictions and cautions may still be disclosed in standard or enhanced DBS checks.See our full list of legal terms.
These no longer exist, but were given to young people under the age of 18 if the police decided not to prosecute them and they had already received a reprimand for a previous offence.
They were also given for first offences that were too serious for a reprimand.See our full list of legal terms.
These are police records, not held on the Police National Computer, containing non-conviction information.See our full list of legal terms.
Filtering is the process which identifies and removes protected convictions and cautions so they are no longer disclosed on a DBS certificate. Convictions and cautions are not 'wiped' from your record, they are simply not disclosed on the DBS certificate.See our full list of legal terms.
This is the document issued following an application to the DBS for a criminal records check. It will contain the personal information you have provided and the result of the checks undertaken.See our full list of legal terms.
This is a locally agreed place where the police may take you to be assessed. It's usually a hospital but can be your home. A police station should only be used in an emergency.See our full list of legal terms.
This is a law that applies to England and Wales which allows people to be detained in hospital (sectioned) if they have a mental health disorder and need treatment. You can only be kept in hospital if certain conditions are met.
See our pages on the Mental Health Act for more information.See our full list of legal terms.
The DBS is the public agency responsible for:
The DBS replaced the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).See our full list of legal terms.
This information was published in November 2018. We will revise it in 2021.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.