DBS Frequently Asked Questions


1. What is the DBS

The Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS), an executive agency of the Home Office, provides access to criminal record and other information to organisations in England and Wales through a service called Disclosure.
Its specific purpose is to help organisations make more informed decisions when recruiting people into positions of trust.
The Disclosure service is also available to other professional, licensing and regulatory bodies whose volunteers, employees and licensees are not necessarily in direct contact with the vulnerable, but still need to uphold the highest standards of professional performance and Disclosure can help improve these recruitment decisions as well. Through the Disclosure service, organisations can provide greater protection for the vulnerable members of our society and afford greater protection to their customers, staff, volunteers and ultimately their organisation.

2. What information is available through the Disclosure service?

The DBS's Disclosure service provides access to a range of different types of information, such as, information:

  • held on the Police National Computer (PNC), such as, convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings in England, Wales and those recorded from Scotland. There is also some Northern Ireland conviction data held on PNC
  • held by local police forces relating to relevant non-conviction information
  • from the Government's Protection of Children Act List (PoCA)
  • from the Government's Protection of Vulnerable Adults List (POVA)
  • held by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) under Section 142 of the Education Act 2002 (formerly known as List 99)

3. What are the levels of Disclosure?

To provide this service, the DBS offers two levels of Disclosure, each representing a different level of check. The two levels of Disclosure are Standard and Enhanced.

These Disclosures cannot be obtained by members of the public and are only available to organisations for those professions, offices, employments, work and occupations listed in the Exceptions Order to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

Standard Disclosure
Standard Disclosures are primarily for posts that involve working with children or vulnerable adults. Standard Disclosures may also be issued for people entering certain professions, such as members of the legal and accountancy professions. Standard Disclosures contain the following;

  • details of all convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings held on the Police National Computer (PNC);
and if the position involves working with children or vulnerable adults and the relevant boxes have been marked on the application form to indicate this:

  • information from the Protection of Children Act List (PoCA);
  • Information from the Protection of Vulnerable Adults List (POVA); and
  • Information held by the DfES under Section 142 of the Education Act 2002 of those considered unsuitable for banned from working with children.
Enhanced Disclosure
Enhanced Disclosures are for posts involving a far greater degree of contact with children or vulnerable adults. In general, the type of work will involve regularly caring for, supervising, training or being in sole charge of such people. Examples include a Teacher, Scout or Guide leader. Enhanced Disclosures are also issued for certain statutory purposes such as gaming and lottery licences.

Enhanced Disclosures contain the same information as Standard Disclosures but with the addition of local police force information considered relevant by Chief Police Officer(s).

4. How long does a DBS check take?

The DBS aims to process 90% of Standard checks in 10 days and 90% of Enhanced checks in 4 weeks.

5. I already have a Disclosure, can I use it again?

If you are asked to apply for a Disclosure and you already have one for a previous role; ask if the organisation is willing to accept it. When making this decision the organisation will take into account the length of time that has elapsed since that Disclosure was issued; the level of Disclosure; the nature of the position for which the Disclosure was issued; and the nature of the position for which you are now applying. Ultimately, it will be the organisation's decision whether to accept it or not.

6. What if I have lived overseas?

If you have lived overseas for a substantial period of time, it may not be worth applying for a Disclosure, as the DBS does not generally have access to overseas criminal records. However, some organisations have a legal responsibility to check if a person is banned from working with children or vulnerable adults and can only do this through the Disclosure service. You may wish to discuss this with your prospective employer or organisation.

7. How will I know which level of Disclosure is required?

The organisation that has asked you to apply will decide the appropriate level of Disclosure for the position.

Further information can be found here:-





DBS agents may offer you more information - 0151 676 1997

8. Who will receive my Disclosure?

When the application is processed, the DBS sends out a copy of the Disclosure, containing any information revealed during its searches, to you and the person who countersigned your form, unless submitted vie the electronic system - only the applicant received a copy.

9. How do I know that the information contained on my Disclosure will remain confidential?

Organisations using the Disclosure service must comply with the DBS Code of Practice, which is there to make sure the whole process works fairly and that any information revealed is treated fairly and securely. Also, the DBS is committed to compliance with the Data Protection Act. This means that any personal information that you submit to us will be protected.

Under the provisions of the Code, sensitive personal information must be handled and stored appropriately and must be kept for only as long as it is necessary. The Code is published on the DBS website, or you can request a copy from the person who asked you to apply for the Disclosure.

10. What if I have a criminal record that may not be relevant to the position for which I am applying?

Safeguards and guidelines have been introduced to ensure that conviction information is not misused and that ex-offenders are not treated unfairly. Ex-offenders will retain the protection afforded by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. In addition, the DBS and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) have developed guidance information for employers on this matter.

11. For how long will Disclosures be valid?

Each Disclosure will show the date on which it was printed. Disclosures do not carry a pre-determined period of validity because a conviction or other matter could be recorded against the subject of the Disclosure at any time after it is issued.

Legislation is under consideration to remove old and minor offences.

12. Further Information

If you would like more information about DBS or its Disclosure service why not visit the DBS website


or call us on 0870 90 90 811.

(Telephone calls are charged at national rate. Calls will be recorded for security and may be monitored for training purposes.)

* A volunteer can be defined as a person who is engaged in any activity which involves spending time, unpaid (except for travelling and other approved out-of-pocket expenses), doing something which aims to benefit some third party other than or in addition to a close relative.

13. Verification of Documents

The verifier must confirm that they have seen all original documentation relating to the applicant and verify it is one and the same person. In accordance with the DBS Code of Practice, one document should have a current photograph, such as a passport or driving licence and another confirming the date of birth and address. The name and address will be held with Workzone as verification of the details. It is a CRIMINAL OFFENCE to knowingly provide false information in support of the Disclosure application. The verifier's personal details may be subject to authentication.

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