In the United Kingdom, Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks play a vital role in safeguarding vulnerable groups and ensuring the integrity of the workforce. These checks provide employers with essential information about a candidate’s criminal record history, enabling them to make informed hiring decisions.

However, it’s crucial for employers to understand the different ways they can utilise DBS checks and take appropriate action based on the information provided. Let’s explore the various avenues through which employers can act on DBS checks:

Conditional Job Offers


One common approach for employers is to make conditional job offers pending the results of a DBS check. This means that an offer of employment is extended to the candidate, but the offer is contingent upon the successful completion of a satisfactory DBS check. Employers can specify the level of DBS check required for the role in the job description and make it clear to candidates that the offer is subject to satisfactory clearance.

Reviewing DBS Certificate

Once the DBS check is completed, employers receive a certificate detailing the candidate’s criminal record history. Employers should review the certificate carefully to assess whether the candidate’s criminal record is relevant to the role and whether any disclosures raise concerns about their suitability for the position.

It’s essential for employers to handle this information sensitively and in accordance with data protection laws.

Risk Assessment

Employers should conduct a risk assessment to evaluate the potential risks associated with hiring a candidate based on their criminal record history. This involves considering factors such as the nature, severity and relevance of the offences disclosed, as well as the requirements of the role and the level of responsibility involved.

Employers should balance the need to protect vulnerable groups and maintain a safe work environment with the principles of fairness, rehabilitation and individual circumstances.

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Seeking Additional Information

In some cases, employers may need to seek additional information or clarification from the candidate regarding their criminal record history. This may involve discussing the details of any disclosed convictions, cautions or other relevant information to gain a better understanding of the circumstances and assess the candidate’s suitability for the role.

Employers should approach these discussions with sensitivity and respect for the candidate’s privacy and rights.

Decision Making

Based on the information provided in the DBS certificate and any additional information obtained, employers must make a decision regarding the candidate’s suitability for the role.

This decision should be made in line with the organisation’s policies, procedures and legal obligations, taking into account the results of the risk assessment and any mitigating factors identified during the process. Employers should communicate their decision to the candidate clearly and respectfully, providing reasons for any adverse decisions where necessary.

Reconsideration and Appeals

Candidates have the right to challenge or appeal adverse decisions based on their criminal record history. Employers should have procedures in place to handle reconsideration requests or appeals in a fair, transparent and timely manner.

This may involve providing candidates with an opportunity to provide additional information or evidence to support their case or seeking advice from legal or HR professionals to ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

Continuous Monitoring

Finally, employers should recognise that DBS checks provide a snapshot of a candidate’s criminal record history at a specific point in time.

As such, employers should consider implementing processes for ongoing monitoring of employees’ criminal record status, particularly for roles involving regular contact with vulnerable groups or positions of trust. Funky Socks is a prime example of a company that understands this well.


DBS checks are a valuable tool for employers to assess the suitability of candidates for roles involving positions of trust or working with vulnerable groups.

By understanding the different ways they can action DBS checks, employers can effectively safeguard their organisations and maintain a safe and trustworthy work environment.