Further changes to criminal record (DBS) checks from May 2013

14 May 2013
Further changes to criminal record (DBS) checks from May 2013

A number of changes have been introduced to make DBS checks more proportionate and to ensure their compatibility with European law.

This follows a ruling by the Court of Appeal in January 2013 which found that the UK's criminal record checking system was not compatible with Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights, the right to a private life.

From 29 May 2013, old and minor convictions and police cautions will not be reported on disclosure and barring service checks. A conviction will not appear on a DBS check if:

  • it is the person's only offence
  • it did not result in a custodial sentence
  • it is not a conviction which will never be filtered such as sexual offending, violent offending and/or safeguarding(seegov.ukguidance)
  • the person was 18 years old or over at the time of the offence and 11 years have elapsed since the date of the conviction, or
  • the person was under 18 years old at the time of the offence and 5.5 years have elapsed since the date of the conviction.


A police caution will not appear on a DBS check if:

  • it is not on the list of offences that will never be filtered (seegov.ukguidance)
  • the person was aged 18 years old or over at the time of the caution and six years have elapsed since the date of the caution, or
  • the person was under 18 years old and two years have elapsed since the date of the caution.


In light of the changes, employers may need to ensure:

  • they are legally entitled to request details of an individual's criminal record for a specific position. Eligible positions guidance is available(seegov.ukguidance)
  • they do not ask individuals to disclose convictions in their job applications which would be filtered under the new DBS rules. The Ministry of Justice recommends employers use the phrase Do you have any convictions, cautions, reprimands or final warnings that are not "protected" as defined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (as amended in 2013)'. In practice, employers may find applicants require additional guidance to understand what this means.


From 14 June 2013, DBS checks now ask you to state which workforce an applicant will be working within. This will influence the information provided on the criminal record check that relates to non-convictions. The options available to choose from are:

  • adult workforce - for work with adults
  • child workforce - for work with children
  • child and adult workforce - for work with both adults and children


From 14 June 2013, DBS certificates will be sent to the individual applicant only. This means that individuals have opportunity to review the certificate before forwarding it to employers. However this also slows down the process for employers, and means that employers need to be cautious in ensuring they receive an authentic DBS certificate.


For information and guidance on DBS checks, visit the safeguardingsection of HRBird.

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