What will be filtered by the DBS?

Help us challenge this issue – As part of our policy work, we’re challenging the DBS filtering system. Do you have multiple minor historic convictions which, under the current law, will never be filtered? If you do please let us know.

Download a short guide to this: What will be filtered by the DBS? – Simple guide [PDF]

Aim of this information

In May 2013, the Government introduced a ‘filtering’ process to comply with a Court of Appeal ruling. This means that some old and minor cautions and convictions will no longer be disclosed on standard and enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service checks (DBS).

Filtering is a complex issue and this information aims to set out how the system works, how long it takes for cautions and convictions to be filtered and which offences are likely to be eligible.

This information forms part of our disclosing to employers section.

Why is this important?

If you are applying for a job which requires a standard or enhanced DBS check, all cautions and convictions will be disclosed unless they are eligible for filtering.

It’s important to know therefore if your caution or conviction is filterable or not. If it is, it will not appear on your DBS certificate and you will not legally need to disclose it to an employer.

How filtering works

Filtering is similar to the rehabilitation periods under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. However, instead of you having to work out if your conviction is spent and therefore not disclosed on a basic check, you have to establish if your conviction is filterable, which means it will not be disclosed on a standard or enhanced check.

Filtered convictions will be removed automatically from a DBS check. This means you do not have to disclose filtered convictions when applying for jobs that require a DBS check. You can legally withhold any convictions that would be filtered.

What filtering applies to


If you have multiple cautions these can be filtered, so long as the offences are eligible (see box 1 below), and the relevant time period (see box 2 below), has passed. A caution for an offence that is not filterable will always be disclosed on a DBS check.


One conviction that did not lead to a custodial or suspended sentence can be filtered, as long as the offence is eligible (see box 1 below), and the relevant time (see box 2 below), has passed. However, if you have two convictions they will never be filtered, so will always be disclosed on a DBS check.

Box 1 – Examples of type of offences that are eligible or not eligible for filtering


Box 2 – Filtering periods


DBS checks – Filtering Flowchart

This flowchart will help you to work out whether your conviction is filterable or not.


Frequently asked questions

Yes. Cautions (and their equivalents), have separate filtering periods. If you later receive a further caution, or a single conviction, these will be dealt with separately under the filtering rules.
No. At the point of every new DBS application, the DBS will look at the PNC and will see more than one conviction, meaning that all convictions will be disclosed. This could mean that a conviction that has previously been filtered could reappear again in the future, if you get another conviction.
Yes, potentially. However, so far we’ve not seen any examples of this, but it is possible. A chief officer may include details relating to an otherwise filtered conviction, caution, warning or reprimand on an enhanced disclosure if they consider, having regard to all the circumstances, that the filtered disposal is relevant and that it ought to be disclosed. It is unclear, at this stage, how filtered disposals will be dealt with by local police forces when deciding whether to disclose information as relevant police intelligence.

A filtered disposal may also continue to be considered by the DBS for the purposes of making a barring decision.

There is no such ability to add a filtered disposal back into a standard disclosure certificate.

No. Filtering does not mean deletion. All ‘filtering’ means is that it is not disclosed on a standard or enhanced level check. The information will still be held on the PNC.

More information

  1. For practical self-help information – More information is avaliable in our disclosing to employers and understanding you criminal record sections
  2. To read personal stories – You can read stories about this posted on theRecord, our online magazine, under the category/tag of filtering
  3. Our policy work – Read about the policy work we’re doing on filtering and how it does not go far enough
  4. Questions – If you have any questions about this, you can contact our helpline

Get involved

Help us to add value to 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 forum
  4. Share your personal story by contributing to our online magazine, theRecord
  5. Help us challenge this issue –DBS filtering and how it does not go far enough


Download a short guide to this: What will be filtered by the DBS? – Simple guide [PDF]



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