What Is A CRB Check? A Detailed Explanation

If you've ever applied for a job, volunteered with a vulnerable group or worked in a position of trust, you might have come across the term "CRB check" or "Criminal Records Bureau check." But what exactly is a CRB check, and why is it important? 

In this blog, we'll delve into the world of CRB checks, exploring their purpose, the types of checks available and their significance in various fields.

CRB Checks VS DBS Checks

The first thing you need to know is that CRB checks are now called DBS checks. Up until 2012, a CRB check was carried out by the Criminal Records Bureau. The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) replaced the bureau, which is why the name of the check is different. 

Technically, CRB certificates have no expiry date, which means they are still valid. With that being said, most employers will not accept them, so it’s likely individuals will need to have a DBS certificate when an employer is performing background checks.  

There are different levels of DBS checks (Basic, Standard and Enhanced); therefore, you need to make sure you get the correct type when needed. If not, you may need to go through the process again. Your Employer and type of job role will ultimately decide which level of check is required.

Differences Between CRB and DBS Checks

In addition to the name of the check changing, there is one other major change: criminal record information and barred list information are now both shown on a DBS certificate. By doing it this way, this part of the screening process is much quicker for employers and candidates.

What is a CRB Check?

A CRB check, now known as a DBS check, is a background screening process carried out on individuals to assess their criminal history and ascertain whether they have any convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings on their record. 

The aim of a DBS check is to help organisations make informed decisions when hiring employees, engaging volunteers, or appointing individuals to positions of responsibility, particularly in roles that involve contact with vulnerable individuals, such as children or the elderly.

How Barred Lists Have Changed

As we mentioned, CRB checks did not include barred list information when they were available; however, DBS checks do provide this. This means that employers can request Enhanced DBS checks with barred list information for certain employees and candiates. 

Barred lists are usually checked when employees or potential employees are coming into close contact with vulnerable adults, children or both. With this information now present in DBS certificates, the process of obtaining all these records is much more efficient, helping to make hiring and legal compliance easier.


In summary, a CRB check, which is now a DBS check, is a background screening process that examines an individual's criminal history to determine their suitability for positions of trust or responsibility. 

There are different levels of DBS checks, ranging from basic to enhanced, depending on the depth of information required. 

These checks play a vital role in safeguarding vulnerable individuals, ensuring trustworthiness in various sectors and ensuring legal compliance. 

If you are ever asked to undergo a DBS check, rest assured that it's a standard procedure aimed at creating safer environments for everyone.

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