• Employers are required to ask prospective staff to obtain any criminal record certificate/s (basic disclosure) before they can successfully complete a background check for specified roles.

    The basic disclosure

    The UK criminal record basic disclosure certificate will show all convictions held which are unspent. Any spent convictions will not be shown on the certificate.

    What are spent and unspent convictions?

    Certain criminal convictions are ‘spent’ after a rehabilitation period as defined in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, 1974. Most rehabilitation periods are halved if the individual was under 18 when convicted; some convictions never become spent.

    Making an application

    Applications for criminal record checks can be made by individual employees directly or through the employer.

    • Applicants working in Scotland should apply online to Disclosure Scotland for a basic disclosure certificate.
    • Applicants working in England and Wales should apply online to Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) for a basic disclosure certificate.
    • Applicants working in Northern Ireland should apply via Access NI for a basic disclosure certificate.

    The fee for a basic disclosure certificate is set by each disclosure agency and is usually around £25. This can either be paid by the individual at the time of application or employers can arrange to pay on the individual’s behalf, if they wish. Please contact the relevant disclosure agency for further details.

    Receiving the certificate

    Basic disclosure certificates are normally received within 10 working days provided all the necessary information has been provided.

    Applicants can choose to have their certificate sent to their employer’s address. If so, the envelope will be addressed to them. You, as their employer, must not open it. If you do so, any disclosures requested in the future will only be sent directly to the applicants at their home address.

    The applicant can pass the criminal record certificate to anyone they choose. You, as the employer, will have to ask them for their certificate, and get permission from the applicant to pass it on to a third party (for example, to the airport manager if necessary).