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How Does Disclosure and Barring Service Work?

Large and small organisations who take on employees require help with making decisions about who they recruit for a number of reasons such as protecting their clients, protecting their reputation or their business finances for example. The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is the service that aids companies with the employment checks part of their recruitment process. It is invaluable to all organisations who have employees and is not just an aid but a requirement of companies who work alongside the most vulnerable in our society, such as those working with the elderly, children or those with disabilities.

The DBS work in conjunction with a number of other organisations in order to bring up to date and information to a report on the history of the person who has applied for the DBS check.

The DBS work with:

  • The Police
  • The Department of Health
  • The Department of Education
  • Capita

The DBS Check will search for:


  • Unspent convictions
  • Spent convictions
  • Cautions Warnings & Reprimands


  • The checks completed at Standard level
  • Other relevant police info

Enhanced and Barred:

  • The checks completed at standard and enhanced level
  • The Children or Adults Barred List

As an employer it is your responsibility to ensure DBS checks are carried out on all employees and that you receive a copy of the DBS check results if it is a requirement in your company’s field of work. Even if it is not a business requirement these checks are an exceptionally good way to ensure that you know your employees’ history and protect your company from potential financial and reputation disputes in the future. In order to apply for DBS checks to be carried out a company must register with the DBS, a requirement of this is that the companies complete 99+ searches in a year, agree that they comply with the DBS code of practice, pay specified fees and ‘be entitled to ask exempted questions under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974’. For registration an application and evidence of how the criteria will be met is required. Alternatively, companies who dot meet this criteria and do not want to register directly with the DBS are able to use and ‘Umbrella Body’ to carry out the checks. An umbrella body service is company who has registered with the DBS as such and will carry out the bulk of the administration around this process for you.

Once an employer / potential employer has requested a DBS check, this request is received and accepted by the DBS service, once the relevant database and  police checks have been completed the disclosure will be sent directly to the applicant, the applicant should then provide this information to the employer / potential employer. It is usual for the checks to be returned within 4 weeks and the progress of the check can be tracked on the DBS website so long as the reference number and date of birth of the applicant are at hand to complete the search.

For most companies an initial check during the recruitment process will usually suffice. However, for those working with children or vulnerable adults, it is expected that the DBS check will be renewed every 3 years to ensure the safety and welfare of the persons being cared for by the organisation. Changes in circumstances such as name and address changes are not required to be reported to the DBS service and a new DBS check would not be required in such cases as the certificate received at the end of the process is solely reliant upon information provided at the application stage.