What type of criminal record check can I ask for?
Who oversees criminal record checks?
  • There are a number of organisations and agencies involved
  • For employers in England and Wales, the key organisation is the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS, formerly CRB)
  • More information: Disclosure and Barring Service [Information]
Am I allowed to ask an applicant to get a copy of their police record?
  • No. Police records are not the same as a criminal record check. Police records are protected under the Data Protection Act 2018.
  •  Asking an applicant to provide a copy of their police record is considered ‘enforced subject access’ which is a criminal offence under Data Protection Act 2018.
  • More information: Police records and enforced subject access requests [Detailed guidance]
Can I check up on someone’s past by looking online to decide whether to hire them or not?
  • In England and Wales, official criminal records are not available online.
  • News websites often publish articles about offences and convictions, including naming the individuals involved, and these can be searched online.
  • Some employers carry out internet searches before making a job offer. If you intend to do this you should make sure you have a lawful basis for using the information. Consider giving applicants the right to respond. Media reports are not always accurate, comprehensive or up to date. For example, it may not be the person you think it is, or the conviction may have since been overturned or the sentence reduced. The information you find could now  be spent.
  • Online checks are not comprehensive and should not be relied upon. Official criminal record checks are the only way to properly check the criminal history of an applicant.
When might it be appropriate to check what can be found online about an applicant?
  • You might use an internet search for new employees as part of your management process. This can help you to understand what information others might be able to find out. This enables you to plan and manage the risk appropriately. For example, you might advise the individual to use a different name at work.
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