Practical information & advice

For most jobs (and insurance) you don’t need to disclose your criminal record once it’s ‘spent’. This is because of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. Most convictions will become spent at some point. We have a tool that can help work this out ( or visit for guidance. Some jobs involve standard or enhanced DBS checks. For these, you’ll normally need to disclose spent convictions and cautions as well, unless they are now filtered by the DBS.

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Here you’ll find links to various parts of this site where we have information and useful resources relating to criminal record checks for employment.

Is my potential employer allowed to do a criminal record check on me?

As an applicant for a job, your potential employer is allowed to ask you to do a criminal record check before they employ you. However, under the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) an employer must have a lawful basis for carrying out a criminal record check and processing data relating to criminal convictions. What type of check they can do will depend on the job, and this will dictate what you will need to disclose. Useful links include:

What types of criminal record checks are there for employers to use?

There are three main types of check – basic, standard and enhanced. However, if you are working overseas or require government security vetting, other types of checks will be done. Useful links include:

Can I apply for my own criminal record check?

It’s possible to apply for your own basic DBS check but not a standard or enhanced. You’d need to apply for these through an Umbrella Body.

How do I go about disclosing to employers?

Employers will often ask applicants to disclose in a certain way. If they don’t, then you should disclose in the way that you feel most comfortable with. Useful links include:

What will come back on my basic DBS disclosure?

A basic DBS disclosure will only show unspent convictions. Useful links include:

What will come back on my standard/enhanced criminal record certificate?

All cautions and convictions will be shown on a standard/enhanced check unless they are eligible for filtering. An enhanced check may also disclose any additional information held locally by the police (for example arrests and allegations). Useful links include:

What types of jobs are eligible for standard and enhanced checks?

We have a list of job roles which sets out the likely level of check that would be required. Useful links include:

How will I know whether my job is classed as regulated activity?

It will depend on whether your job involves activities which place somebody in a vulnerable position and, how often these activities are performed. There is a useful link below.

How do I know if I’m barred?

If you were not told that you were barred or that barring was being considered at the time of your caution/conviction, then you should contact the Disclosure and Barring Service. Useful links include:

How would I know if a specific job/role is eligible for a standard/enhanced check?

We have produced a simple to use flow chart which will give you a good idea whether a job/role is eligible for a standard/enhanced check. Useful links include:

What can I do if I think an employer is doing an ineligible check?

You should agree to the check but immediately raise an eligibility query with the DBS. There is a useful link below.

What do I need to include in an email to the DBS if I want to challenge an ineligible check?

You need to set out clearly the reasons why you believe the check is ineligible. We have templates which you can use to write your own email.

What do employers do with criminal record checks?

There are very strict data protection guidelines which set out what an employer should do with a certificate one they receive it. There is a useful link below.

How does the DBS work?

We’ve produced an overview of the DBS and other information regarding the checks they are responsible for. Useful links include:


Here you’ll find some of the common advice that we give on criminal record checks for employment. This is based on what we’ve learnt as a charity, as well as the real-life experiences of people with convictions.

  • If you’re applying for a job and are being asked to do a standard or enhanced check, the onus should be on the employer to establish what makes the role eligible (with reference back to the legislation if necessary). The way the legislation is structured means that all positions are eligible for a basic DBS check. Only if the role meets certain requirements does it mean that it’s eligible for a standard or enhanced check.
  • If you don’t think the employer is entitled to a standard or enhanced check, it’s normally only worth challenging this if you have spent convictions. If all your convictions are unspent, even if you are successful in your challenge, the employer will be entitled to require a basic check.
  • If an employer insists on doing a standard or enhanced check, and you have tried (or don’t feel able) to challenge them, you should consent to the check and then raise a query with the DBS through their eligibility query process.
  • If you’ve got police intelligence held about you, and you’re applying for an enhanced check, you shouldn’t disclose it unless you have reason to believe that it will be disclosed by the police (e.g. it’s particularly relevant to the role, or it’s been disclosed in the past in similar situations). Once the enhanced check is returned to you, you will then know whether the police have decided to disclose it, and you can then make a decision as to whether to either (a) seek a review of the police force’s decision, or (b) disclose this information to the employer.

Frequently asked questions

Here you’ll find some specific questions that we regularly get about criminal record checks for employment and the answers we generally provide.  More detailed FAQ’s may be included in the information pages above.

We have also published a specific page with FAQ’s about the DBS filtering process.

The level of check an employer carries out is very important, particularly if you have spent convictions, as these wouldn’t be disclosed on a basic DBS check. We have general guidance on common job roles and the level of checks required.

Unlock has developed an Establishing Eligibility Process (EEP), to help you establish what type of check a particular position is eligible for. This will help you to challenge an employer if you don’t believe they are entitled to carry out a particular level of check.

You should start by working through the Unlock Establishing Eligibility Process to satisfy yourself that the position you are applying for is not eligible.
If you have completed the application form but it has not yet been submitted to the DBS, you could contact the employer or Umbrella Body to say that you no longer wish to give consent. If you do this, it is likely that an employer will withdraw the job offer.
If the application has been submitted to the DBS, you should raise this as a query with the DBS as an ineligible check.
There are a couple of reasons why this may have happened.
Prior to early 2006, the police were able to delete records entirely after a certain period of time, depending on the nature of the offence. This was possible under the old ‘weeding’ guidelines. If you had a CRB check done prior to 2006 that came back clear, it is possible that your offences were either deleted or may not have been recorded in the first place.
In 2006, the police stopped deleting records and introduced a new policy referred to as ‘step-down’. Individuals could apply to the police to have their criminal records ‘stepped-down’ so they wouldn’t be disclosed on standard or enhanced checks. The step-down procedure was stopped in October 2009 following a Court of Appeal decision, meaning that anybody who had previously had their records ‘stepped-down’ now have them back on their DBS certificates. There is further information on our retention and deletion of police cautions and convictions page.
The police can choose to disclose details of the criminal convictions of somebody living in the same house as you under ‘police intelligence’. This may include somebody on Home Detention Curfew. The police would need to be able to demonstrate that it was relevant to the job you were applying for before disclosing on an enhanced certificate.
Before an employer can check the status of your DBS Certificate, you would need to have signed up for the Update Service (this costs £13 per annum). To check the status, an employer will need to:-
– Have your written or verbal consent
– See the original certificate to check it is the same type and level as they are legally entitled to
– Check your identity
– Have the DBS Certificate reference number
As of 20th February 2020, the DBS made it possible for employers to pay for an individuals basic DBS check. When you apply online, you’ll be able to select the ‘someone else is paying’ option. You’ll receive an email that contains a payment link which you can then forward to your employer. The check can be paid for by debit or credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay.
Not automatically, and in fact very rarely. An FPN is not a conviction. However, on an enhanced check, the police can decide whether to disclose it as part of their local police information. Assuming that the FPN is recorded on your PNC entry, it could be disclosed if the police felt it was relevant, although in most cases it is unlikely.
Your offence has likely either been deleted or was never recorded on the Police National Computer. As you know that it’s not going to appear on a criminal record check, there’s no reason for you to disclose it to any employer if you are asked.
Your offence might still show on a standard or enhanced check, even if it’s never been disclosed before. This is because ‘step down’ was removed in 2009 and has been replaced by the filtering process.
Details of any conviction, irrespective of how minor, will remain on the PNC until you reach 100 years of age. However, as you were under the age of 18 at the time and this is your only conviction, your biometrics (DNA and fingerprints) will be automatically deleted after 5 years (plus the length of any prison sentence).

Here you’ll find links to useful organisations and websites related to criminal record checks for employment that we refer to in our information and advice. Contact details for the organisations listed below can be found here.

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