What Is an Enhanced DBS Check?

Criminal record checks carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) give the public, employers and employees confidence that only suitable people are employed in particular jobs, voluntary posts or student placements. By carrying out these checks as part of the recruitment process, DBS checks greatly reduce the risk of exposure to possible crime in any workplace. Although many jobs require minimal if any such background checks, some positions and working environments require vetting of the highest standard. In the UK, this standard comes in the form of the Enhanced DBS check.

Disclosure and Barring

DBS checks are the modern version of criminal record bureau (CRB) checks, enshrined in law since 1974 to streamline vetting procedures for employers. As the name suggests, a person can be barred from taking employment in certain situations if their DBS check reveals certain types of criminal conviction. There are strict rules for employers requesting any DBS check; so much so that requesting the wrong type can itself be classed as a criminal offence.

There are three types of DBS check; basic, standard and enhanced. A basic check must be requested by an individual rather than an employer; in this case, the employer usually requires that a candidate provide them with a basic check during recruitment. Basic checks have no actual eligibility, so employers are free to ask for them without having to justify their reasons; job applications at this level of checking will usually be unskilled or semi-skilled. It is standard and enhanced checking which requires employers to follow correct protocols.

Regulated Activity

For the purposes of DBS checking, the more stringent standard and enhanced levels are there to cater for regulated activity. Such activity involves contact with children or vulnerable adults. For this reason, the law says that employers are entitled to see more detail than on basic checks, which only cover unspent convictions or cautions. Higher level checks reveal all spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings, according to the Police National Computer (PNC). By showing this level of detail, it is hoped that employers will be able to make the best informed choices for people carrying out regulated activity.


Employers themselves request these higher level checks. In doing so, they have a responsibility not to discriminate against an applicant who may have served a sentence, and is entitled under law to apply for regulated positions. As standard checks and above look further into a person’s past history, defining these boundaries is very important. Even then, there are certain records which a standard check is not allowed to check; these are reserved for the highest level, the enhanced DBS check.

What is an enhanced DBS check?

In certain situations, employers can request an enhanced DBS check. These are reserved for positions which satisfy the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975; that is, roles which are deemed to fall outside of the normal ROA legislation. These are likely to affect the most vulnerable people in society, and typically jobs which qualify as exceptions are health workers, teachers and support workers, who carry out their jobs a minimum of once per week, or 3 days in any 30 day period in a relevant setting.

As well as these positions, however, other occupations are subject to enhanced DBS checks. These include taxi drivers, whether hackney or private. When applying for a licence, the enhanced check must be carried out. As has been proven, taxi drivers can use their jobs to harm people, and these victims are often some of society’s most vulnerable members.


The enhanced check reveals all convictions, cautions warning and reprimands, as in the standard check. However, as well as these, it is possible for employers to ask for a search of the Child’s or Adult’s Barred List. These include names of people convicted for certain types of crime, which usually means they will stay on such a list for life.

Extra Help

When an enhanced DBS check is carried out, police services will be notified. They may then pass on any notes on a person’s history which they deem relevant to their job application. So, in answer to “what is an enhanced DBS check?”, the answer is a very methodical and trustworthy means of ensuring only the right people are employed in regulated activity.

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