In July 2020 the government announced plans to change the rules of what is disclosed on (and removed from) standard or enhanced criminal record checks issued by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) in response to a Supreme Court ruling in 2019. The changes came into effect on 28 November 2020. This brief guide explains what those changes mean. Find out more about the changes here.
What information can be removed from standard or enhanced DBS checks?
Some cautions and spent convictions can become ‘protected’. Once protected, they are ‘filtered’, meaning they won’t be disclosed on standard or enhanced DBS checks.
Filtered cautions and convictions do not appear on a standard or enhanced DBS check. However, they are not ‘removed’ or ‘wiped’ from police records.
- If you’re applying for a job or role that involves a standard or enhanced DBS check, cautions and convictions that are filtered won’t be included on results of the check.
- If you’re carrying out a standard or enhanced DBS check as an organisation, you should be clear to applicants that they do not have to disclose any cautions or convictions that are filtered and you must ignore any filtered cautions/convictions if you become aware of them.
What are the key changes?
There are two main changes to the current rules that happened in November 2020:
- Reprimands, final warnings and youth cautions are no longer disclosed: Regardless of the offence, reprimands, final warnings and youth cautions are no longer disclosed on any DBS check.
- Multiple convictions can be filtered – Provided the offence is eligible and didn’t lead to a suspended or actual prison sentence, convictions can now be filtered from standard and enhanced DBS checks after the relevant time period has passed, even if there is more than one conviction or offence on record.
What is staying the same?
- The list of offences – the “offence rule” – The list of offences that cannot be filtered has not changed. Read our list of common offences that can be filtered here. The full list of offences that cannot be filtered, published by the DBS, can be found here.
- Prison sentences – the “sentence rule”– Convictions that resulted in a prison sentence (or suspended sentence) cannot be filtered.
- The time periods – The time periods before adult cautions and spent convictions can be removed remain the same.
These changes apply to what is disclosed for jobs and roles that involve a standard or enhanced DBS check. The rules for what is disclosed on basic criminal record checks are set out in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (ROA). Basic checks show unspent convictions. Once a conviction is spent, it will not be disclosed on a basic check. Read our guidance on the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
Examples of how the new rules will affect existing criminal records
Marcus was a teenager when convicted of 6 offences of theft between 1992 and 1994. Under the new rules these will no longer be disclosed on standard or enhanced DBS checks as the convictions happened more than 6 years ago, when Marcus was under 18.
Sasha was convicted of 4 counts of benefit fraud in May 2012, when she was 31. Under the new rules, these will be removed from standard or enhanced DBS checks in May 2023, 11 years after Sasha was convicted as an adult.
Anita received a reprimand for arson at age 11, and a final warning for ABH at age 14. The new rules mean reprimands and final warnings, issued to under 18s and since replaced by youth cautions, will never be disclosed on standard and enhanced checks, regardless of the offence.
Lenny was convicted of ABH at age 14. He received a youth referral order. His conviction will continue to be disclosed on standard or enhanced checks because he was convicted of an offence that is on the list of offences that cannot be filtered.
Kyle accepted a youth caution for common assault in 2001, when he was 16. He was convicted of drug possession in 2010 when he was 25 and paid a fine. His youth caution will never be disclosed on standard or enhanced checks. His conviction for drug possession will be removed from checks in 2021 – 11 years after the date of conviction.
Abdi was convicted of drink driving in 2009 when he was an adult – he was disqualified and paid a fine. Three years later, he was convicted of drink driving again and was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for a year. Abdi’s first conviction will be removed from a standard or enhanced DBS check this year, 11 years after he was convicted. His second conviction will always be disclosed because he received a suspended prison sentence.