Disclosure and Barring Service – An overview

Aim of this page

The aim of this page is to provide an overview of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), what its responsibilities are and what you can do if you want to appeal something that has been disclosed on your DBS certificate.

This information forms part of our section on criminal record checks for employment.

Why is this important?

If you believe that a mistake has been made on your DBS certificate, the police have disclosed old or irrelevant additional information or you are dissatisfied in any way with the service that you’ve received from the DBS, it’s important to know who to contact if you wish to lodge an appeal.

Overview of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

The DBS is a non-departmental public body which forms part of the Home Office. The DBS was formed in 2012 by the merging of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).

The DBS describes its work as supporting “organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors to make safer recruitment decisions by identifying candidates who may be unsuitable for certain work, especially those involving working with children or vulnerable adults.”

The DBS is responsible for:

Who do the DBS work with?

The DBS work with the police who provide them with information that is held locally or on the Police National Computer (PNC).

What types of checks do the DBS do?

The DBS currently process applications for standard and enhanced checks

In late 2017, they will also process applications for basic checks.

Contacting the DBS about an employer doing an unlawful check

Although any employment position can involve a basic check, only certain specific roles can involve a standard or enhanced check.

If you think an employer is requesting the wrong level of check, you can raise this with the DBS and they can stop the check if they find the role to be ineligible.

Find out more about how to contact the DBS if you want to challenge an ineligible check.

You can also find out what we’re doing about employers carrying out the wrong levels of check.

Appeals and disputes

You can lodge an appeal with the DBS if you believe that a mistake has been made in either:

  1. The records provided, for example the wrong or irrelevant information regarding a caution or conviction
  2. Personal information, for example your name or employers details

The easiest way to report mistakes is to complete a certificate dispute form.

Appeals relating to police intelligence

If the police have decided to disclose police intelligence on your DBS certificate this can be disputed through the DBS. You can find further information about what you need to include in any appeals letter here.

Independent Monitor review

The DBS will work with the police to try to rectify any mistakes on your DBS certificate and reach a decision on your appeal.

If the police do not agree that any mistake has been made, you can refer your appeal/dispute to the Independent Monitor if it relates to information which has been disclosed that is:

  • Not relevant to the position you have applied for
  • Should not be included in the certificate

If the Independent Monitor agrees with your appeal, your DBS certificate will be amended.

You can contact the Independent Monitor:

By email:  IndependentMonitor@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

By post:  Independent Monitor, Safeguarding and Public Protection Unit, Home Office, 4th Floor Fry Building, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF

If you disagree with the decision made by the Independent Monitor then you could consider seeking judicial review. This is a legal procedure by which a judge in the High Court is asked to rule on the legality of an action or decision by a public authority. Applications for judicial review need to be taken no later than three months after a decision is made by the Independent Monitor. We’d always recommend that you seek advice from a solicitor before making your application.

Making a complaint to the Independent Complaint Reviewer

If you’re not happy with the response you receive from the DBS to your complaint and you have followed their internal complaints escalation process, you can ask for your complaint to be reviewed by the Independent Complaint Reviewer (ICR).

The ICR will normally only investigate a complaint if you have given the DBS the opportunity to resolve the matter and you are in receipt of a final response from the DBS Chief Executive.

You can contact the ICR:

By email:  icr@dbs.gsi.gov.uk

By post:  Independent Complaint Reviewer, PO Box 165, Liverpool L69 3JD

Discuss this with others

Read and share your experiences on our online forum.

Key sections include:

Below you will find links to useful websites relating to this page. More specific details (including addresses and telephone numbers) of some of the organisations listed below can be found here.

More information

  1. For practical information – More information can be found at criminal record checks for employment
  2. To discuss this issue with others – Read and share your experiences on our online forum
  3. Questions – If you have any questions about this, you can contact our helpline.

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