Filtering of spent cautions / convictions – A simple guide

You can find out more information about filtering in our detailed guide
Help us – As part of our policy work we’re challenging the DBS filtering process as it doesn’t go far enough. Help us by providing examples


Aim of this information

This forms part of our information on criminal record checks for employment.

This simple guide briefly explains the filtering process that applies to standard and enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service checks. For additional information have a look at our detailed guide to filtering.

Note: This guide focuses on how the filtering process works in England & Wales.

Disclosure Scotland has guidance on the filtering process that applies to standard and enhanced checks on their website.
The Department of Justice in Northern Ireland has guidance on the filtering process that applies to standard and enhanced checks on their website.


Why is this important?

Cautions or convictions which are eligible for filtering will automatically be removed from DBS checks at the time a DBS application is made. It’s important therefore to know whether your offence will be filtered to ensure that you do not disclose it to an employer if, legally, you don’t need to.


Since May 2013, standard and enhanced checks no longer disclose ALL cautions and convictions. Following a Court of Appeal ruling, the Government introduced a process of ‘filtering’.

‘Filtering’ is similar in its concept to the rehabilitation periods under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. However, instead of establishing what is ‘spent’ and so what doesn’t get disclosed on a basic check, ‘filtering’ establishes what doesn’t get disclosed on a standard or enhanced DBS check. In the first 3 months that it operated, 8,344 individuals had a conviction filtered, and 27,903 had a caution filtered.

Information that is filtered will be removed from a DBS check automatically the next time you apply for one. But it doesn’t get ‘removed’ or ‘wiped’ from police records. In practice, it means that if you’re applying for a job or role that involves a DBS check, you are legally entitled to withhold the details of anything that would now be filtered.  For a detailed guide on filtering, search for ‘filtering’ on

Cautions – Multiple cautions can be filtered, so long as the offences are eligible and the relevant time period has passed for each. Each caution is dealt with separately.

Convictions – Only single convictions that didn’t lead to a suspended or custodial sentence can be filtered, so long as the offence is eligible and the relevant time period has passed.

Filtering periods

Types of offences*


* This is a summary only. The DBS has published a list of specified offences not eligible for filtering

DBS checks – Filtering flowchart


* The list of specified offences not eligible for filtering is available here

More information

  1. For practical self-help information – More information on criminal record checks for employment can be found here
  2. To read personal stories – You can read stories about this posted on theRecord, our online magazine.
  3. To discuss this issue with others – Read and share your experiences on our online forum.
  4. Our policy work – Read about the policy work we’re doing on this issue.

Get involved

Help us to add value on this information. You can:-

  1. Comment on this information (below)
  2. Send your feedback directly to us
  3. Discuss your views and experiences with others on our online peer forum
  4. Share your personal story by contributing to our online magazine, the Record





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  • Mark

    I got 4 years for gbh do I have to tell the car insurance

  • jonjonington

    I got a police caution for personal pocession of a class a 2 years ago do i have to declare it?

  • Kathy

    My daughter got a caution for possession of cannabis in June 2011 it was her first and only offence she was 16. I have spoken to DBS twice 1 said its over 2 years old and will be filtered and the second said as she was 16 it will take 6 years to be filtered. Your site seems to indicate 2 years. Can you please confirm which is correct as she needs a DBS for a job she’s just applied for. Thank you Kathy

  • Jess

    I stole some tights and a packet of sweets from a Boots store when I was 19 or 20. I know, how stupid.
    I’m now 25, have a degree and would like to pursue a career in nannying, which is obviously going to require a DBS check. Will this show up on my record? And how will it read? I’m wondering whether I need to declare it with the recruitment agency or client upfront or not.

  • John

    I had a caution when i was 13. Im 19 now. Will it be filtered or not?

  • Gayle Louise Stephen

    This might be quite a lot off subject, but I’m just wondering would the same type of filtering being used here when applying for a job also apply if you’re applying for a non-immigrant visa and have to produce a police certificate in order to be able to enter USA even though they don’t recognise spent convictions nor the 1974 Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. I’m asking because my fiancé was given what’s now known as a youth caution in 1994 for simple possession of a small amount of marijuana. He was 14 years old at the time. I’m asking this type of question because we’ll likely need to apply for a Schengen area visa to visit the EU once we leave the bloc and the EU commission are thinking about introducing a similar type of program to the USA ESTA program which will mean the same rules will likely apply once their systems up and running. I’m worried that in the future if he has to apply for one he won’t be able to travel to the US embassy because we live in merseyside making it too far to travel. Can you advise me on how to go about this if a new European ESTA goes ahead? Thanks

  • Guy

    Hi Doug, what if you were over 18 when you got it? Will it be looming over my head forever?

  • Doug

    Guy, If you were over 18 at the time of the caution it would be filtered after 6 years. Therefore taking the example above, if you received a caution in June 2011 and being over 18, the caution would be filtered from a DBS check in June 2017 as long as it is a filterable offence. Doug at Unlock

  • sarah

    hello, i got convicted with a DR10 driving offence on 2 june 2010, i receiced a custodial sentence of 12 weeks and served 6 weeks. i’ve applied for a job that involves going ‘airside’ at airports. i’ve told employer about dr10 but not about custodial sentence, when they do an enhanced check on me 1) do they need my permission before hand or can they do it without my knowledge? and 2) will the custodial sentence appear on certificate and recommend that i’m unsuitable to work airside? thanks in advance.

  • Phil

    In 1989, when I was 22, I received 2 years probation (non-custodial) for Aggravated Burglary with Intent to Rape. Will this be filtered?

  • Phil

    I can answer my own question.
    I’ve had the DBS back and this is still on there. Aggravated Burglary from 1989, which didn’t even have a custodial sentence – I was given 2 years probation. It is scandalous that this is still visible after 28 years.
    In other words, I do something really silly nearly 3 decades ago, I get a telling-off by the Judge but nothing worse than probation, and yet 3 decades later it is still on my records, still visible, still potentially an obstacle. Ridiculous.

  • Lucy

    Hi did it come back on ur DBs check