What does an employer see when checking your criminal record using the DBS Update Service?

The DBS Update Service which was introduced in 2013 allows individuals to keep their standard or enhanced DBS certificates up-to-date by paying an annual subscription fee; currently £13 per year. This means you can effectively take your certificate with you when you move jobs or roles. An employer can then carry out free, online, instant checks to see if any new information has come to light since the certificate was issued – this is referred to as a ‘status check’.

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve received calls from individuals who’ve been confused about what an employer can see when they carry out a search with several assuming that the employer will see a copy of their latest DBS certificate.

What will an employer ask you to provide?

If you’re happy for an employer to use the Update Service to check your criminal record, you’ll need to provide them with:

  • Verbal or written consent to check your record
  • Your name and date of birth
  • The DBS certificate number (you’ll find this in the top right-hand corner of the certificate).

You’ll also be asked to show them the latest paper version of your standard or enhanced DBS certificate.

Even if an employer uses the Update Service, they’ll still need to see the paper version of your certificate – so make sure you keep it safe as the DBS cannot issue replacements if you lose it.

Once they have the above, an employer can start to use the online tool.

Using the Update Service

An employer will need to log in online and provide details of their organisation together with the name of the individual who is requesting the check. If you need to, you’ll be able to check which organisations have carried out status checks on you.

Once the employer has given their details, they’ll be asked to provide the applicants surname, date of birth and the DBS certificate number.

Before the employer can go any further, they’ll need to agree with a legal declaration confirming that they have the authority of the applicant to check their record and they’re carrying out the correct level of DBS check.

The employer will then be able to see whether there has been any new information added since your last certificate was produced or whether your current certificate remains unchanged.

What if there’s new information on your DBS certificate?

If you’ve received further cautions or convictions or you’ve been added to the barred list, your employer will see the following message:

This DBS certificate is no longer current. Please apply for a new DBS check to get the most up-to-date information.”

At this point, the employer will usually ask you to apply for a new DBS certificate.

What if there’s no new information on your DBS certificate?

If there are no changes to your certificate, the employer will see the following message:

The certificate remains current as no further information has been identified since its issue.”

What if your cautions or convictions have been filtered since your last certificate?

The filtering of a caution or conviction would not cause a status change through the update service as a status change is only prompted when there is new information to be added. An offence which has been filtered would mean a removal of information from your certificate.

If you wish to have a certificate which doesn’t show the offence that has been filtered, you’ll need to apply for a new DBS check.

Given that once something is filtered, you no longer need to disclose it, then it’s sensible to apply for a new certificate. Many employers have little understanding of the filtering process and if you’re showing them a paper certificate with a filterable offence still on it, they’ll assume that it can still be taken into account.

For more information

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Debbie Sadler