Call for evidence: the DBS Update Service and filtered convictions

Do you have a caution or conviction which is eligible for filtering? Are you signed up to the DBS Update Service?

In November 2020 changes were made to the rules on what is disclosed on (and removed from) standard and enhanced DBS certificates. It is thought that approximately 45,000 people each year will benefit from these changes.

If you’re someone who needs regular standard or enhanced DBS checks then you may have decided to sign up to the DBS Update Service. Indeed, more and more employers are making it a condition of employment that staff members sign up to it.

However, it’s important to note that the filtering of a caution or conviction does not lead to a status change on the Update Service and you would therefore need to apply for a new paper certificate as evidence that your caution/conviction has been filtered (removed).

We’ve recently been made aware that some individuals who have applied for a new paper certificate have been issued with a manual certificate by the DBS which looks slightly different to an automated certificate. Once a manual certificate has been issued, it cannot be used to join the Update Service or added to an existing Update Service subscription.

Individuals who have contacted our helpline have told us that the process for producing a manual certificate takes longer than an automated one and, because it looks slightly different, could potentially alert an employer to the fact that an individual has had a caution or conviction filtered, thereby negating the benefits of the filtering process.

We have previously raised this anomaly with the DBS and were told that it was a temporary problem which had “led to a small increase in the number of manual certificates being issued”.

We are aware that the DBS are working on updating their current system but we believe that with significantly more people benefitting from filtering, it’s likely that many will be affected by this issue. However, we need to see evidence of this before going back to the DBS.

That’s why we need your help.

If you currently subscribe to the Update Service and have a caution or conviction which is now eligible for filtering, we would ask that you:

  • Apply to the DBS for a paper version of your standard/enhanced DBS certificate with your caution/conviction removed; and
  • If you receive a manual certificate from the DBS email us a copy of it to feedback@unlock.org.uk.

Any information sent to us will be treated confidentially and not shared with any third party without your prior consent.

We rely on the evidence we hear from people on the ground to inform our work holding government and institutions to account. Sharing your experiences with us can make a real difference to how laws and policies impact the lives of people with criminal records.

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Debbie Sadler