A DBS disclosure is a statement from the Disclosure and Barring Service which confirms whether an individual has any relevant criminal records, specifically relating to issues of employment, and usually requested by a potential employer.

DBS disclosures are referred to frequently as DBS checks. They were formerly carried about by the Criminal Records Bureau. In 2012 the Disclosure and Barring Service was formed and took over these tasks. As a result, a DBS disclosure is often referred to as CRB check.

A DBS disclosure confirms what is held on the Police National Computer (PNC) relating to that individual at that specific moment in time. Clearly, the records can be updated at any time and, as a result, a disclosure can technically be considered out of date as soon as it is issued. This does not mean, however, that DBS checks are continually requested or that they should be.

DBS dislcosure – validity

The important question to ask is for how long a DBS disclosure is valid? This is not an issue that is decided upon at governmental level. There is no validity period given to a disclosure certificate due to the difficulties in how up to date it is, as explained above. Each employer or organisation must decide upon their own initiative and what their internal process will be regarding a suitable re-application process. Of course, the older the disclosure certificate the more likely that the information held on the PNC has changed. A common length of time adhered to is three years.

Once a period of time has been decided upon, the organisation or employer should ensure that they adhere to this timeframe and re-check their employees according to this frequency. Often employers use organisations such as who can confirm a re-check date, and send out reminders when the time frame is coming to an end.

Can I just request an update?

Since June 2013, it has been possible to apply for an update only from the DBS update service. This is not available to any certificates obtained before June 2013. Any employer can use the update service if they have previously obtained a disclosure certificate.

It is highly recommended that any organisation or employer ensure that they have thoroughly assessed the risks of using the update service before settling upon this choice.

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