How to Obtain a Criminal Record Report in the UK

A criminal record is a list of a person's previous criminal convictions and history. Under the law, employees wishing to work with children and vulnerable adults may be asked to agree to disclosure of their criminal record to their potential employer. An individual can also apply to see the information stored on them by the police.

Apply for a Subject Access Request. Under the Data Protection Act 1988, you are entitled to see the information held on you by police and other criminal justice agencies. You may need this when applying for a visa to enter a foreign country, for instance.

Make the request in writing to your local police force. You must provide proof of your identity, £10 and provide a photograph if requesting CCTV footage.

Contact your local police force for an application form or visit its website. Completing this form will speed the application process by listing accepted documents for proof of identity and details of where to send the form. It will also give you the chance to detail any specific information you are looking for, by date, crime number or incident details.

Keep a copy of the request for your records. The police force in question has up to 40 days to complete your request or to send a formal letter stating that they have no information on you. Alternatively, they can refuse certain requests under exemptions provided by the Data Protection Act, particularly if the information is likely to "prejudice the prevention or detection of crime" in ongoing cases. If you do not hear from your local force in 40 days, send the request again.

Make a complaint. If you still do not get a reply from your local police force, make a complaint to the Information Commissioner's Office, stating why you think the police have not responded properly.

Apply for a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check. If you wish to work with children or vulnerable adults, or want to work in health care, you may be asked to apply for a formal CRB check. You may also be asked to apply for a CRB check if you apply to be a foster or adoptive parent or childminder. Apply to the Criminal Records Bureau in England and Wales, Disclosure Scotland in Scotland or Access Northern Ireland in Northern Ireland.

Speak to the person who made the request for your CRB check, also known as a Disclosure. This will usually be a potential employer. They should already be registered with the CRB and will be able to give you an application form. These forms are only available to organisations directly registered with the CRB or who work with CRB-registered organisations.

Fill out the application form along with proof of your identity, name, address and date of birth as well as the organisation's Registered Body name and number. The CRB's Applicant's Guide to Completing the CRB Application Form details the proof of identity needed.

Give the application form back to the person who requested the check. Do not send it back to the CRB. The person requesting the check will then look at the information and decide what level of CRB check to request before sending it to the CRB themselves. There is a charge for this service. Ask your potential employer or referrer if they will pay. The service is free for volunteers. Copies of the CRB check are then sent to yourself and your potential employer.

Alternatively, you may be asked to call the CRB Disclosure application line on 0870 90 90 844. You will need to have the organisation's Registered Body name and number to hand.

Employers wishing to register with the CRB for the first time must satisfy the legal criteria, such as whether you can comply with the CRB's Code of Practice and whether you are entitled to ask exempted questions under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974 Exceptions Order 1975. Details can be found on the CRB website

When you request a CRB check on a potential employee, you must state if you want a Standard Disclosure or an Extended Disclosure. Standard Disclosures will list a person's past criminal convictions, warnings, cautions and reprimands held on the Police National Computer. You can also request a check of the information held under the Protection Children and Protected Vulnerable Adults lists, as well as a check of anyone banned from working with adults or children.

Opt for an Extended Disclosure if the post involves a great deal more contact with children or vulnerable adults or if they will be in sole charge of either group. An Extended Disclosure provides the same information as a Standard Disclosure, plus any extra local police information considered relevant by the Chief Police Officer.


An individual cannot make a CRB request, neither can anyone self-employed. An organisation must make the request for them. This is because an independent person must be available to decide on subsequent employment based on the information received. A criminal records check does not investigate whether people are licensed to work in the U.K.


There have been many complaints about companies claiming to gain information under the Data Protection Act for a fee. These are not affiliated with the Information Commissioner's Office. Some companies, schools or agencies will not allow you to start work without first receiving your CRB check. Speak to your potential employer.

Things You'll Need

  • CRB application form or application form from the local police force
  • Proof of identity
  • Payment
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About the Author

Stacey Teale has been writing and editing for newspapers, magazines and the Internet since 1991. Formerly editor of the U.K.'s "Daily Mail Online," her articles have also appeared in “iVillage,” “Good Health,” the “Sunday Mercury" and more. Teale holds a Bachelor of Arts honors degree in English from Birmingham City University, and a national certificate examination in journalism.