Types of criminal record checks

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Aim of this information

This page sets out the types of criminal record checks that can be conducted by employers, the type of information that can be disclosed on each check and what convictions can be disclosed.

This information forms part of our disclosing to employers section.

Why is this important?

When you are applying for a job it’s important to know as much information as possible about the type of criminal record check that an employer may do. You can then make an informed decision as to whether you need to disclose your conviction or not.

By understanding the types of checks that are available to employers and what information is disclosed, you are less likely to either under or over disclose your criminal record. 

The main types of criminal record checks for employers

What criminal record checks disclose

Types of checks 2

For each conviction/caution disclosed, the certificate will state the court/police area, date of conviction/caution, offence and sentence/disposal. It will only disclose factual information, it does not give a description or account of the circumstances surrounding the conviction.

Information for all checks are taken from the Police National Computer (PNC). The only exceptions to this applies to some information on enhanced checks. “Police Intelligence”, comes from local police records and “barring list” information, comes from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

How many checks are carried out each year?

Overall, approximately 5 million criminal record checks are carried out each year (see further explanation below). Of these, roughly:

  • 20% are basic checks
  • 5% are standard checks
  • 75% are enhanced checks

What proportion of checks disclose criminal records?

The proportion of checks which disclose some type of information relating to cautions/convictions is roughly:

  • 2% of basic checks disclose unspent convictions
  • 13% of standard checks disclose convictions/cautions (likely to be high because of high number of SIA-related checks)
  • 6% of enhanced checks disclose convictions/cautions

Explanation of data

Basic checks

Between 10/03/2014 and 19/06/2014, there were 280,920 basic disclosures issued under England & Wales legislation. Of these, 5,700 disclosed unspent convictions.

Over the course of a full year, this works out to be approximately 1,015,251 checks, of which 20,600 disclosed unspent convictions.

Standard checks

For the financial year 2013/14, there were 233,511 standard checks processed by the DBS. Of these, 29,895 disclosed convictions and cautions.

Enhanced checks

For the financial year 2013/14, there were 3,715,222 enhanced checks processed by the DBS. Of these, 206,028 disclosed convictions and cautions, and 9,626 disclosed ‘other relevant information’

More information

  1. For practical self-help information – More information is available on our disclosing to employers and understanding your criminal record sections
  2. Questions – If you have any questions about this, you can contact our helpline

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  • Steve

    Chris, hang in there buddy. I too have committed offences that will never be spent. I found an understanding employer and I have been with the company now for a number of years. Focusing on the ‘EX’ in ex-offender is important to me. I an not an offender anymore, and I never want to be one again. I did a long stint inside, I learned my lesson, and I have moved forward. Yes, employment, and a feeling of worth has helped that. Perhaps setting yourself up as an odd-job man and excelling in your work would help. No need to disclose anything to your boss then, bacause thats you.

    Stay strong buddy, you will get there.

  • Parag Gadhia

    Hi Chris,
    I disagree. I have an unspent conviction for death by dangerous driving back in 2003. Sainsburys took me on whilst I served a sentence at the now closed Latchmere House. I worked with them until 2015. Unfortunately, I was made redundant. Not much I could have done about that.
    I have had several interviews whereby the employers have simply not found it an issue which has been surprising to me so there is hope.