Types of criminal record checks

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Aim of this information

This page sets out the types of criminal record checks that can be conducted by employers, the type of information that can be disclosed on each check and what convictions can be disclosed.

This information forms part of our disclosing to employers section.

Why is this important?

When you are applying for a job it’s important to know as much information as possible about the type of criminal record check that an employer may do. You can then make an informed decision as to whether you need to disclose your conviction or not.

By understanding the types of checks that are available to employers and what information is disclosed, you are less likely to either under or over disclose your criminal record. 

The main types of criminal record checks for employers

There are four types of criminal record check for employment purposes, basic, standard, enhanced and enhanced with barred list.


What criminal record checks disclose

Types of checks 2

For each conviction/caution disclosed, the certificate will state the court/police area, date of conviction/caution, offence and sentence/disposal. It will only disclose factual information, it does not give a description or account of the circumstances surrounding the conviction.

Information for all checks are taken from the Police National Computer (PNC). The only exceptions to this applies to some information on enhanced checks. “Police Intelligence”, comes from local police records and “barring list” information, comes from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

How many checks are carried out each year?

Overall, approximately 5.8 million criminal record checks are carried out each year (see further explanation below). Of these, roughly:

  • 28% are basic checks
  • 5% are standard checks
  • 67% are enhanced checks

What proportion of checks disclose criminal records?

The proportion of checks which disclose some type of information relating to cautions/convictions is roughly:

  • 1.67% of basic checks disclose unspent convictions
  • 5.62% of standard and enhanced checks disclose convictions/cautions

More information

  1. For practical self-help information – More information is available on our disclosing to employers and understanding your criminal record sections
  2. Questions – If you have any questions about this, you can contact our helpline

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Download a short guide to this: Types of criminal record checks [PDF]
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