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How to find if someone has a criminal record

Updated April 14, 2017

It is often necessary to find out if someone has a criminal record. The aim of the criminal record check is to allow employers in the public, private and voluntary sectors to identify potential employees who may not be suitable to work with children or other members of society that are deemed to be "vulnerable." Also known as “Disclosure,” employers usually require this information before hiring an applicant. Frequently needing background checks, individuals or companies should consider it an essential part of the hiring process.

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  1. Obtain personal information of the person in question, such as their first and last name and current address.

  2. The applicant will need an Enhanced Disclosure Certificate if he or she is applying for a job position involving regular contact with underaged, vulnerable adults and elderly people. A Standard Disclosure Certificate for top-level management positions involved in the public or private financial sector. For all other jobs, a Basic Disclosure Certificate will normally suffice.

  3. An application for a criminal background check can be made in the UK with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). Get the criminal record application form from the DBS.

  4. Ask the applicant to directly fill in the form (see resources section) for a criminal record check, criminal background check, CRB check or DBS check. The various categories of criminal checks will depend on the job in question.

  5. The application form should then be sent to the DBS. The DBS will return the certificate to the applicant and the employer should ask to see it. This can be done online if the job applicant has signed up to the DBS update service.

  6. Tip

    If you are doing over 100 checks a year then you should register with the DBS. This costs £300. See resources section for application form.

    If the applicant is from overseas then in some cases the employer may be able to get a criminal record from the local embassy. The employer must ask for the permission of the applicant.


    Employers should only arrange a DBS check on a successful job applicant. They can withdraw a job offer if the results show anything that would make the applicant unsuitable.

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