CRB Check

A CRB check is an essential requirement for anyone wishing to work in certain occupations and employers will check to make sure that potential employees are suitable to work for their organisation. A CRB report will search the police database and identify whether they have received any criminal convictions or cautions in the past.

The original Criminal Records Bureau was established in 1997 as part of the Police Act and it provided access to the criminal record of individuals using its disclosure facility.

Individuals applying for the following posts will be subject to a CRB check:

  • Any role which is covered by legislation such as the Protection of Children Act 1999 and the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000. Both Acts make it mandatory for checks to be carried out on potential applicants. Where this legislation is applicable, the roles will be incorporated into the Exemption Order which relates to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
  • Any programme of study which would lead to a qualification in a profession which is covered by the same two pieces of legislation outlined above
  • Any job which requires the post holder to work directly with children or vulnerable adults
  • Volunteers who work with vulnerable adults and children

The above list is by no means exhaustive and employers will have their own guidelines about when a disclosure check is required.

Although the CRB check no longer exists, it has now been transferred to the Disclosure and Barring Service. Any checks which would fall under the CRB element are now dealt with under the DBS check instead.

Depending on the nature of the role, there are two levels of disclosure check; the standard disclosure and the enhanced disclosure.

Standard Disclosure

Where this check is requested, it will reveal all current and spent convictions as well as reprimands, warnings and cautions which are stored on the Police National Computer. It will also incorporate details of individuals on government lists which state that the individual is unsuitable for work with children.

If the post requires the employee to work directly with vulnerable adults or children, there are several other searches that may be carried out but these are at the discretion of the employer. These searches include:

  • The Protection of Children Act List
  • The Protection of Vulnerable Adults List
  • Details which are held in accordance with Section 142 of the Education Act 2002

Enhanced Disclosure

The second type of disclosure is a more advanced check and it is predominantly used in jobs where individuals will be in control of, supervising or caring for vulnerable adults or children. The enhanced disclosure will incorporate all of the searches under the standard check in addition to details held by local police forces. The Chief Constable of the local police force will determine what information is disclosed to the organisation requesting the information.

They may decide that some information is relevant while other information is not.

The information within the Standard and Enhanced DBS check is strictly private and confidential. As such, the CRB have released a Code of Practice and guide for employers to be issued to the recipients of the disclosure to make sure that they are used and managed correctly.

Obtaining a Disclosure

An employer who wishes to obtain a disclosure can do so by asking the applicant to make an application for a check. When an application is made there will usually be a fee payable and depending on the employer, this will be either met by the employer or the applicant.

Once disclosure checks have been completed, a certificate will be produced which will list anything retrieved from the various databases. A disclosure does not have a validity period because it is only valid for the day that it is issued. Convictions, cautions or other issues could be recorded at any time after the certificate has been issued.

It is therefore recommended that a certificate is obtained as close as possible to the appointment date.


Only an employer or a licensed body is able to request a DBS check. An applicant cannot instruct a DBS check themselves.
To request a DBS check, the employer will need to obtain an application form. The potential employee will be asked to complete the application form in full and return to the employer along with any supporting documentation to prove their identity. The DBS check will be carried out and a certificate sent to the applicant. DBS applicants must be at least 16 years of age.

The length of time that a DBS check will take will depend on a number of factors such as the level of the check that is carried out, whether the applicant has completed the form correctly and which police forces need to be consulted for the check. Typically it takes approximately eight weeks to receive a DBS check.

Employers can only request a CRB check (now the DBS check) for certain roles. Asking for a check to be carried out when it is not necessary is a criminal offence.

Where a check is carried out for volunteers, there is no charge for the search. This will include anyone who spends their time assisting others and they are not being paid for their time with the exception of travel expenses or they are not only caring for a close relative.

Where an employee requires a DBS check, the employer must notify them that one will be required. In addition, the employer must provide an explanation to employees or volunteers to justify their request for a DBS check.

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