My right to work with children and vulnerable adults

Explains what a DBS check is and what you can do if you are unhappy with the information held about you by the police. Applies to England and Wales.

Terms you need to know




This is a formal warning about future conduct given by a senior police officer, usually in a police station, after a person has committed an offence. It is used as an alternative to a charge and possible prosecution.

Certificate dispute form

This is the form you use if you are unhappy about the content of a DBS Certificate.


A child is a person under the age of 18.

Criminal record

A record of convictions held on the Police National Computer (PNC) for individuals convicted of crimes.

DBS certificate

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.

DBS check

A check of your criminal record carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service. This used to be called a 'CRB check'.

Disclosure and Barring Service

The agency responsible for processing requests for:

  • criminal records checks
  • deciding whether it is appropriate for a person to be placed on or removed from a barred list
  • placing or removing people from the DBS children’s barred list and adults’ barred list for England, Wales and Northern Ireland

The Disclosure and Barring Service replaced the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).

Enhanced DBS check

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.

Enhanced DBS with list check

A check of your criminal record which will show the same as an Enhanced DBS, but will also include a check of the Disclosure and Barring Service children and adults barred lists – a list of individuals who are barred from working with children or vulnerable adults.


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.

Final warning

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.

Independent Monitor

An independent body responsible for reviewing disputes from applicants regarding local police information disclosed on Enhanced DBS Certificates.

Local police records

Police records, not held on the Police National Computer, containing non-conviction information.

Mental Health Act 1983

This is a law that applies to England and Wales which allows people to be detained in hospital (sectioned) if they have a mental illness and need treatment. You can only be kept in hospital if certain conditions are met.

See our information on the Mental Health Act.

Place of safety

A locally agreed place where the police may take you to be assessed, usually a police station or a hospital. A police station should normally only be used in an emergency.

Protected convictions and cautions

Convictions and cautions which will be removed from your DBS certificate by filtering. Whether convictions will be protected will depend on the type of offence, when you were convicted or cautioned, and how old you were when convicted or cautioned.


The equivalent of a caution for young people aged under 18. These no longer exist. See also, final warning.

Spent convictions

A conviction that, after a period of time, can be treated as if it never existed and no longer needs to be disclosed (except for the purposes of DBS checks).

Standard DBS check

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).

Subject access request

A written request to an organisation asking for details of the personal information they hold about you.

See our information on accessing your personal information.

Unspent conviction

Except in very limited circumstances, when a person is convicted of a crime, that conviction is considered to be irrelevant after a set amount of time (the rehabilitation period) and it is then 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.

Vulnerable adult

A person aged 18 or over, who receives or may need community care services because of a disability, age or illness, and who is or may be unable to take care of themselves or protect themselves against significant harm or exploitation.


This information was published in February 2017. We will revise it in 2019.

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