Can you ‘pass’ a DBS check with a criminal record?

DBS checks are a relatively common part of the recruitment process these days. That being said, they can still be a cause of stress to those who have to take them. The most pressing question most candidates will likely have is whether they can ‘pass’ the checks or not. Let’s take a closer look at what DBS checks actually entail, and whether or not you need to pass them, with or without a criminal record.

Can you 'pass' a DBS check with a criminal record?

The different kinds of DBS checks

First, it’s important to be aware of the fact that there are different kinds of DBS checks, and each check will look for different kinds of information. That means that you could have certain things on your criminal record that would allow you to ‘pass’ one kind of DBS check, but not another. There are three main types of DBS checks:

Basic check

The basic check can be used by recruiters for any kind of position, and it’s the most basic check available. It only shows up unspent criminal convictions, warnings, and reprimands – that means that if your criminal record is considered spent, it won’t come up in these kinds of background check, and you’ll ‘pass’.

Standard and enhanced checks

The standard and enhanced checks are a little more advanced than the basic check. They look for both spent and unspent criminal convictions, warnings and reprimands, with the enhanced check also containing any additional information the police consider relevant to the position you’re applying for. This makes these kinds of checks a lot more difficult to ‘pass’ with a criminal record, particularly the enhanced check.


Regulatory stipulations

In some industries, there are clear rules that employers have to follow when hiring for certain positions. These kinds of roles will often involve spending time with children and vulnerable adults, and if you have certain marks against you on your criminal record, it can mean that you’re essentially barred from that job. Employers use specialist companies to ensure that they’re in line with the regulations – failure to comply on their behalf can result in serious legal repercussions.

The employer’s discretion

In other scenarios, where the role in question isn’t covered by strict regulations, DBS checks will typically be used by employers to see how honest you’re being about your past. In these cases, if you have a criminal record it’s best to be honest with your employer. 

If they still like and trust you as a candidate, they can still choose to hire you even if you don’t technically have a clean DBS check. It might be considered a mark against you, but you can obviously have lots of other things that go in your favour. 

We hope this has cleared things up a bit. While for some roles, having a criminal record will essentially bar you from that industry, with others, an employer can still hire you even if your DBS check comes back without a ‘pass’. Different DBS checks also display different kinds of records, and it’s important to be clear on whether your criminal convictions or warnings are considered spent or not at the time you take the check.


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