Executive Recruitment

About the Disclosure and Barring Service

Who we are and what we do

Safeguarding is at the heart of everything we do at the DBS. We help employers make safer recruitment decisions. We also prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups including children.

We are responsible for the following:

  • Processing requests for and the issuing of DBS checks for England, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
  • Making considered decisions about whether somebody should be barred from engaging in regulated activity with children, adults or both in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The below video details some of the work completed by the Disclosure and Barring Service as well as the different levels of DBS check, what type of information may be used to carry out these checks and the importance of safeguarding.


This is the area of our business that most people will come into contact with.

Our Disclosure team carries out the criminal record checks that result in a DBS certificate being issued to an individual. Employers can then ask to see this certificate to ensure that they are recruiting suitable people into their organisation.

We currently issue three levels of criminal record check. These are:

The Basic Check: This is for any purpose including employment. The certificate will show any unspent cautions and convictions under the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

The Standard Check: This is suitable for certain roles such as security guards. The certificate shows both spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings that are held on the Police National Computer. The service is free for volunteers.

The Enhanced Check: This is suitable for people working with children and vulnerable adults.  These certificates show the same information as the Standard but with the possibility of the addition of further relevant information from the Police. They can also show if an individual is on one or both of the DBS barred lists if the employer has requested the check. The service is free for volunteers.

Eligibility for standard and enhanced DBS checks is prescribed in legislation.  Recruiters should only request a DBS check on an individual when they are legally allowed to do so.  Anyone can ask for a basic check on themselves.

In addition we also provide an Update Service for Standard and Enhanced Checks which allows individuals to keep their check up to date enabling prospective employers to check its validity online.


We maintain lists of people who are Barred from working with children or adults. It is our job to decide who gets added to the list and who is removed.

This particularly complex area of our work involves us making fair, consistent and thorough decisions that are an appropriate response to the harm that has occurred as well as the risk of future potential harm.

Who we work with

The DBS works with a number of different organisations and departments, including but not limited to:

  • Police forces in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man – the police provide information that is held locally, or on the Police National Computer
  • ACRO Criminal Records Office (ACRO) – manages criminal record information and improves the exchange of criminal records and biometric information
  • Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) – a private sector partner that operates an administration infrastructure and call centre for our disclosure service
  • Responsible organisations – a responsible organisation is an organisation that has registered with the DBS to submit basic DBS checks

Registered bodies

A registered body is an organisation that has registered with the DBS to submit standard and enhanced checks, and is entitled by law to ask an individual to reveal their full criminal history – also known as asking ‘an exempted question’.