Types of check
Depending on the nature of the position, organisations can apply for a Basic, Standard or Enhanced criminal record check.
A Basic criminal record check only discloses the details of unspent convictions, i.e. crimes for which the offender has not yet completed the rehabilitation period. It is available to any candidate applying for any role, across all industries.
A Standard criminal record check provides the employer and the applicant with the applicant’s full criminal record, including both spent and unspent convictions. However, because it doesn’t include a check of the ISA’s barred lists, this level of check is not suitable for those working with children or vulnerable adults. An employer can only require a Standard check if the role is an exception to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
An Enhanced criminal record check provides the applicant’s full criminal record as well as information held by the local police forces based on the address history provided by the candidate. It also provides a check of the ISA’s Children’s List or Vulnerable Adults’ List, or both, as appropriate. Through an Enhanced check the employer can find out if the applicant is barred from working with children or vulnerable adults, or both. Similar to Standard checks, an employer can only require an Enhanced check if the role is an exception to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
Disclosure Scotland usually returns the results for the Basic criminal record check within 5 working days. The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) aims to issue 95% of Standard checks within 2 weeks of receiving a completed application and 90% of Enhanced checks within 4 weeks of receiving a completed application. It some cases however it can take up to 10 weeks to receive the results of a check.
Code of practice
The Disclosure and Barring Service and Disclosure Scotland have both laid out a strict code of practice that organisations that wish to use criminal record checks must adhere to. This includes:
- Registered Bodies
- Umbrella Bodies, such as Sanctis.
- Recruiters and employers staff that receive such information.
In sum, criminal record information should only be used in the context of a policy on the recruitment of ex-offenders, designed to protect applicants from unfair discrimination on the basis of non-relevant past convictions. For a detailed reading of the DBS’s code of practice, click here.
Storage of criminal records information is also important. Information revealed is considered only for the purpose for which it was obtained. It should be destroyed after a suitable period has passed – usually not more than six months.
To note: those establishments that are inspected by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales (CSSIW) may retain the Disclosure until the next inspection. Once the inspection has taken place the Disclosure should be destroyed in accordance with the DBS Code of Practice.