Criminal Record Checks

How do we conduct these?

Criminal record checks are an important part of any background checking process, whether pre-employment or in-employment screening. In the UK, Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are used to confirm whether a candidate has any records of convictions, cautions, reprimands or final warnings.


What’s included in a criminal record background check will depend on which of the three types of DBS check is run (basic, standard or enhanced).

The more comprehensive the check is, the tighter the restriction on when it can be run it. For many sectors it can be a legal or regulatory requirement to obtain a criminal record check before employing candidates for certain posts or jobs. In other instances, such checks are used to assess general suitability for the job.

To ensure a fair and consistent approach for clients wishing to screen candidates who have worked or lived overseas, Accurate can replicate criminal record checks internationally (subject to public availability of information and local legislation).

UK Criminal Record Checks

There are three types of criminal record check in the UK.

Each of these is presented in the form of a certificate or ‘disclosure’ document and has different eligibility requirements, as set out in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exception Order 1975) and the Police Act 1997 with HR teams in mind, to serve their referencing needs, make their lives easier and reduce their workload.

Basic Disclosure
Defined in Part V of the Police Act 1997. The basic disclosure is the lowest form of criminal-record check containing only unspent convictions only. It can be applied to anyone, at any time, for any reason.

Standard Disclosure
Lists spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings. You can only run this check on candidates applying for specific financial, legal, medical and other regulated positions.

Enhanced Disclosure
Generally only available for positions that involve working with children or vulnerable adults. These checks contain all standard disclosure data and also include locally held police information.

Issuing Bodies.

Vero Screening Limited (trading as Accurate) is registered with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) to conduct basic, standard and enhanced criminal record checks in England and Wales. We also have a relationship with Disclosure Scotland to process checks in Scotland, and with Access NI to process checks in Northern Ireland. This means we can run basic, standard and enhanced criminal background checks on potential employees, throughout the UK.

Informing Candidates.

If you require a criminal record check as part of your background check, you have to tell your job applicants. To comply with the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, employers are obliged to make candidates aware as soon as possible – usually at the point of advertising the role – that a criminal record check is a requirement for the job. Accurate helps you design an employee recruitment process that is in full compliance with the Act.

Spent and Unspent Convictions.

A conviction is deemed spent when a defined period of time (or rehabilitation period) has passed after the individual has been sentenced. The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act sets out rehabilitation periods for each type of crime. Once a conviction is spent, it will no longer appear on a basic disclosure certificate. Spent convictions should not count against a candidate.

Subject Access Requests.

In the past, some employers would oblige candidates to use their subject access rights to obtain details of any past convictions – effectively making the candidate run their own criminal background check. In some instances this would give the employer excessive access to protected records. Under chapter 10 of the Data Protection Act 2018, this is now prohibited. An employer may only perform a criminal record check on candidates or employees when it is proportionate and legitimate to do so and they must use the legally mandated processes.

International Criminal Checks

When running a background check on a potential employee who has resided overseas, the availability of criminal record checks varies from one country to another.


Accurate always uses the official issuing body, where one exists, to retrieve background information on your candidate for employment. Where there is no issuing body, but criminal records can be legitimately used for pre-employment screening, we search for the candidate in available court and public records. We are also able to advise on Subject Access Request procedures where appropriate.