When does a Criminal Record Clear? What You Need to Know

Many people who complete a DBS online application don’t have anything on their criminal record and therefore have nothing to worry about. However, those who do may wonder whether this will affect their ability to be hired in a role. If that’s the case for you, Online DBS Checks has written this blog post to explain everything you need to know.

Which Parts of a Criminal Record Do DBS Checks Reveal?

If you’re concerned about the possibility of something existing on your criminal record and then being disclosed on your DBS certificate, it’s important to note that only certain information will be included. This decision is based on the type of DBS application that you complete, which can be one of three options:

  1. Basic DBS Check reveal any unspent convictions on your criminal record.
  2. Standard DBS Check also reveal unspent convictions but also include spent convictions, along with warnings, cautions and reprimands.
  3. Enhanced DBS Check include all of the previously mentioned information listed within a Standard disclosure check whilst also listing any relevant local police notes held on file.

Barred list checks may also be included depending on the specific job role you may be working in.

However, not every conviction or caution will be included by a DBS checking service, even during an Enhanced DBS check. This is because some are cleared, so why and when could this occur?

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What Convictions Get Cleared from a Criminal Record?

It’s vital for anyone with a criminal record to know that only certain crimes will appear on their DBS certificate, depending on the nature of the crime and the sentence given. During any level of DBS check, a key way to understand how specific offences are treated is to categorise them based on the applicant's age when they committed the crime.

Applicants 18+ at Time of Offence

Anyone who committed a crime when they were 18 years old or older is regarded as an adult. Therefore, any relevant offences will only be filtered from the criminal record check if they meet the following criteria:

  • More than 11 years have passed since the conviction.
  • The crime didn’t lead to a prison sentence.
  • The applicant hasn’t committed a crime in the time since.
  • If the crime in question doesn’t appear on the relevant safeguarding list.

Applicants Less Than 18 Years Old at Time of Offence

Anyone who commits a crime before the age of 18 is treated as a minor, even if the applicant has since turned 18. In comparison to crimes committed by an adult, any offences are more likely to be removed from a criminal record. The following criteria need to be met for a conviction to be filtered out of the disclosure process:

  • More than five and a half years has passed since the conviction.
  • The sentence didn’t involve the applicant going to prison.
  • It was that individual’s only offence.
  • The crime doesn’t appear on a relevant safeguarding list.

What Cautions are Removed from a Criminal Record?

As mentioned above, anyone requesting an Enhanced or Standard DBS check will have cautions listed on their DBS certificate. Crimes that result in a caution are less severe than those that lead to a conviction, so the time it takes for them to be removed from a criminal record is reduced.

Applicants 18+ at Time of Caution

Any relevant cautions will be filtered from the check if the applicant was over 18 at the time of the crime and they meet the following criteria:

  • More than six years have passed since the caution was given.
  • If the offence doesn’t appear on the appropriate safeguarding list.

Applicants Less Than 18 Years Old at Time of Caution

As with convictions, cautions given to minors are more likely to be removed from a criminal record than those given to adults. Therefore, the disclosure process won’t include an existing caution if it meets the following criteria:

  • More than two years have passed since the caution was given
  • If the crime doesn’t appear on the relevant safeguarding list.

Are There Any Convictions That are Never Removed?

As you may have noted in the information above, some crimes that aren’t removed from a criminal record appear on safeguarding lists to protect children and vulnerable adults from harm. This list includes serious crimes of a violent or sexual nature and severe crimes that occur abroad, such as terror offences, murder, sexual offences, and child abduction.

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