The Impact of Past Convictions on DBS checks

24th May 2024

In this blog, we will explore how past convictions appear on DBS checks and what this means for job seekers.


how past convictions affect DBS checks

Understand how past convictions affect DBS checks

Applying for a job often involves undergoing a DBS check, especially in sectors that require high levels of trust. A common concern among job applicants is whether their past convictions will affect their DBS check.


Types of DBS checks

 Before diving into the impact of past convictions, it’s essential to understand the different types of DBS checks:

Basic DBS check: This level shows unspent convictions and conditional cautions.

Standard DBS check: This includes both spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands, and final warnings.

Enhanced DBS check: The most comprehensive, including all of the above plus any additional information held by local police that is considered relevant to the role.



How Past Convictions appear on DBS check

Basic DBS check: Only unspent convictions and conditional cautions are shown. If you have any unspent convictions, they will be listed here. Spent convictions will not appear, offering some reassurance to those whose offences are in the past and no longer relevant under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

Standard DBS check: Both spent and unspent convictions are displayed. This means that any past offenses, regardless of how long ago they occurred, can be revealed. This level of check is typically required for positions of trust that do not involve direct contact with vulnerable groups.

Enhanced DBS check: In addition to spent and unspent convictions, this check includes any pertinent information held by local police forces. This can encompass a wide range of details, such as ongoing investigations or concerns that might not have led to a conviction but are still considered relevant to the role.



Impact on Job Applicants

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974: Under this act, many convictions can become “spent” after a certain period, meaning they no longer need to be disclosed. However, for jobs requiring Standard and Enhanced DBS checks, spent convictions will still be disclosed.

Type of Conviction: Minor convictions may not necessarily disqualify you from a role, especially if they are spent and not directly relevant to the job. More serious offenses, particularly those involving violence or dishonestly, are more likely to be a concern for employers.

Relevance to the Role: Employers often consider the nature of the past conviction in relation to the job. Typically, theft convictions are more significant in financial roles than in non-financial roles.

Employer Policies: Each employer has its own policy on handling past convictions. Some may have a strict no-tolerance policy, while others might be more lenient and consider the context of the conviction and the applicant’s history since then.



Navigating the Job Market with past convictions

Be honest: It’s crucial to be transparent about your past convictions when asked. Being upfront can foster trust with potential employers.

Seek Guidance: Organisations like NACRO and Unlock provide support for individuals with criminal records, offering advice on job applications and handling disclosures.

Focus on Rehabilitation: Highlight any steps you have taken towards rehabilitation and positive changes in your life since the conviction. This can demonstrate your commitment to moving forward.

Know your Rights: Understand the rehabilitation of offender’s act and how it applies to your situation. Knowing which convictions are spent can help you navigate job applications more confidently.

Although, past convictions can influence the outcome of your DBS check, they don’t necessarily eliminate your job prospects. By understanding how these convictions appear on various types of DBS checks and their implications for your application, you can better prepare and approach the job market with confidence.