Completing a criminal record check application

Disclosing your criminal record

The section focuses on the technical aspects of completing an application for a criminal record check.

However, with a criminal record, there is also a lot to think about in terms of how you disclose this to the organisation in question. We have a detailed section on disclosing to employers.

Basic applications

Basic disclosures are issued by Disclosure Scotland. For more information, visit our page on basic disclosures.

Standard or enhanced applications – the ‘DBS’

Who processes the check?

The DBS (Disclosure & Barring Service) acts as the ‘middle-man’ between the Registered Body (which checks eligibility and identity) and the Police (who provide the criminal record information for the certificate).

The Registered Body submits the application to the DBS. Many employers are not registered, and have to use another company called an ‘Umbrella Body’. However, some large employers are Registered Bodies themselves and can submit applications directly to the DBS.

Registered Bodies and Umbrella Bodies are legally responsible for the process of submitting the application. This includes identification and address verification and declaring that the position is eligible for the check.

Completing the form

Official guidance

The DBS produce a step-by-step guide on filling out the application form. This is available to download from the DBS website.

Providing accurate information

The application form is used to help the DBS and the Police to find your records. This is known as ‘PNC matching’. If you do not provide accurate information, you could be confused with somebody with a different criminal record. It is an offence to intentionally provide inaccurate details.

The question about convictions


Question e-55 (see above) helps to identify your record on the Police National Computer (PNC). The declaration underneath the question means that you need to answer this question truthfully. 

The question on the form was amended in March 2014 to reflect the introduction of the filtering process (more information about filtering). The question is now:

“Do you have any convictions, cautions, warnings or reprimands that would not be filtered in line with current guidance?”

If you are not sure how to answer this question, you can apply for a Police Subject Access request (SAR) to see what is on your record. Unfortunately, this doesn’t tell you what has been filtered – it provides you with everything that is on the Police National Computer. With this, you should be able to work out what would be filtered.

If you’re not sure, and you don’t have time to complete an SAR, you should think about whether to tick “Yes” or “No”. If the form gets sent back to the Umbrella Body acting on the employers behalf you might be okay with ticking “Yes”, as this information isn’t normally shared with the employer. If, however, the form goes back to the employer, you should think carefully before ticking “Yes” as it might mean you’ll be telling them something you might not need to. Ultimately, it will depend on how confident you are that your record will be filtered.  

If you have applied to have a repealed offence (something that is no longer a crime) removed from the PNC and received confirmation from the police, you do not need to include it. A repealed offence that has been removed from the PNC will not appear on a DBS certificate.

Checking the status of your application

You can check the status of your application online. You will need your DBS application form reference and your date of birth. If you cannot remember your form reference number, you should contact the DBS.




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