What is a DBS check?

What is a DBS check?

In 2012, the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) and the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) merged together to become the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

As a result, CRB checks are now known as DBS checks. The main aim of the DBS is to aid employers in making safer recruitment decisions and ensuring that unsuitable people do not work with vulnerable groups.

A DBS check tends to be required in instances where volunteers or employees in England and Wales are working in care, with children or vulnerable people. It is important to note that there are different rules for undergoing a criminal record check in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Types of DBS check

There are three types of DBS check - standard, enhanced and enhanced with list checks.

Type of check Checks carried out Cost
Standard Spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings. £26
Enhanced Spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings, plus any additional information held locally by police forces that's reasonably considered relevant to the post applied for. £44
Enhanced with list checks As Enhanced, plus a check of the appropriate DBS barred lists. £44


DBS checks on volunteers are free of charge provided they fit within these categories.

How long does a DBS check take?

The majority are processed in two to four weeks. The DBS aims for:

  • 75% of all disclosures to be issued within 14 days from receipt
  • 90% of all disclosures to be issued within 28 days from receipt
  • 99% of all disclosures to be issued within 60 days from receipt
  • Once the check has been completed, the applicant will be sent a certificate directly. You need to then ask the applicant to see their certificate.

DBS checks for charities and businesses

DBS checks are only eligible for certain positions - details of which can be found on the DBS website.

As an employer, you should give the person being checked a form to fill in and return, together with proof of identity documents. You will need to tell your employee or volunteer the reason why they are being checked and where they can go for independent advice.

It is your decision when it comes to updating a DBS check, as they have no official expiry date. Any information gathered is accurate only at the time the check was completed and subsequent convictions will not be listed.

It's likely that, if you work with children or vulnerable people, your business or charity insurance policy will state that your organisation must carry out DBS checks on all members of staff. This is to ensure that suitable people are working in positions of trust.

Always remember that proper safeguarding goes far wider than DBS checks. It also involves how you induct, support and train your workforce. If you are a charity and would like to learn more, read our quick guide to training volunteers.


Charity insurance from just £6 a month