What is basic disclosure and why do you need it?

For certain jobs in the United Kingdom you need a DBS certificate. This is evidence that your criminal record has undergone a screening by the Disclosure and Barring Service. The certificate is to provide present and future employers some assurance that you are a trustworthy employee. It does not offer a guarantee but should also not be used as an instrument of prejudice.


What is basic disclosure?


There are various levels of checks that can be performed by the Disclosure and Barring Service. This government body was created by the merger of the Criminal Records Bureau and Independent Safeguarding Authority in 2012, and since January 2018, has been responsible for all criminal record screening in the UK (although Scottish residents and people who work in Scotland but don’t reside there need to apply to a different arm of the DBS).


The check is performed by screening the Police National Computer, checking against the Adult and Children’s Barred List, and requesting information from local police forces.


In the case of basic disclosure, the check stops at the Police National Computer screening. No check of other records is made –  these must be requested as different levels of the screening and certification process.


In a basic disclosure, the DBS certificate shows the criminal record of the individual. A criminal record will include convictions, cautions, final warnings, and charges. The DBS certificate will detail  only unspent convictions, with the convictions determined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. It will detail the date of the conviction, the hearing court, the offence committed, the date of the offence, and the sentence received. It does not detail items like fixed penalty notices (parking fines) or allegations made against the individual.


An individual may apply for a personal DBS check and certificate via the government website, but most DBS checks are requested by companies, organisations, and government bodies. Obtaining a basic disclosure from clear check is a fast and easy way to undertake the screening process.  An individual must consent to the DBS check.


Upon completion of the screening, the individual is sent a paper certificate.


Why do you need basic disclosure?


For certain jobs in the UK, a basic disclosure certificate is a condition of employment.  You may not receive an offer of employment without one, and you may not receive an offer employment without a clean basic disclosure. If you are already employed and your employer conducts a regular review/update of disclosure certificates, and your certificate is identified as no longer been clean, you may be subject to dismissal. Even marketing companies like Millenio carry out DBS checks of all their employees.


Basic disclosure is the lowest level of criminal record screening in the UK. It is used for entry level positions in certain professions or in jobs where the risk to the company is minimal. For working in healthcare, in education, or with vulnerable adults, it is unlikely a basic disclosure is sufficient.


The basic disclosure certificate enables an employer with the recruitment process and to manage risk. It is essentially a measure of employability and trustworthiness, but without offering a guarantee that an employee would ever do anything to harm a company/organisation.