Everything to Know about Criminal Background Checks and Filtering

When discussing criminal background checks, specifically DBS checks, many people like to know how extensively an organisation will delve into their past. DBS checks (formerly known as CRB checks) are often required as part of the recruitment process.

Understandably, those without a criminal record will have nothing to worry about when completing a DBS check, but those with such a record may have questions. 

One pertinent question is whether certain offences will be eligible for filtering on certain criminal record checks, and in a greater sense, what details will be disclosed on a DBS certificate.

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DBS Check Filtering

The Disclosure and Barring Service provides three types of DBS check, Basic, Standard and Enhanced.

Basic DBS checks only disclose unspent criminal convictions, whereas Standard and Enhanced checks delve slightly deeper, displaying spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings. 

Every Enhanced DBS application will be checked by an applicant’s local police force, who will disclose any information relevant to the role. The Enhanced DBS check option also allows organisations to check candidates against the Children’s or Adults’ Barred Lists if necessary.

However, regardless of the criminal background check, some offences will be eligible for filtering. This essentially means that certain offences won’t be listed on a DBS check. 

One thing that many people aren’t aware of is that some DBS certificates may not disclose particular past offences if a certain amount of time has elapsed since they were committed.

When Will a Criminal Record be Cleared?

So how long does it take for offences to be cleared from your criminal history? It entirely depends on the crime and your age, the details of which we will explain below.

Criminal Convictions

If the applicant was aged 18+ at the time of the offence.

A DBS check will be filtered if:

  • 11+ years have passed since the conviction
  • The applicant didn’t go to prison
  • There’s been no crime committed since the conviction
  • The offence isn’t listed as a severe safeguarding offence

If the applicant was under 18 at the time of the offence

An applicant may be an adult now, but if they were a minor when the offence was committed, their criminal record check would be filtered if:

  • Over 5 and a half years have passed
  • No prison sentence was served
  • It was their only offence
  • It is not a serious safeguarding offence


Cautions are seen as less severe than convictions which means they’ll take less time to be cleared from a candidate’s criminal background.

If the applicant was aged 18+ at the time of the offence

Cautions will be filtered from a criminal record check if:

  • Over 6 years have passed since the caution was issued
  • It was not considered a safeguarding caution

If the applicant was under 18 at the time of the offence

Under 18s will have cautions wiped or filtered if:

  • It’s been over 2 years since the incident
  • Again, it’s not a safeguarding incident

Informed Warnings

If you admit that you committed an offence, the police can issue an informed warning that means you will not face court. Warnings aren’t convictions or cautions, but they do stay on your criminal record for 12 months, regardless of whether you’re over or under 18.

What is Excluded from a Criminal Background Check

There are some penalties and fines that are often omitted from DBS certificates. These include:

  • Fixed penalty notices
  • Parking fines
  • Some minor driving offences
  • TV licence fines

That said, some offences will never be eligible for filtering on DBS checks, meaning they will always be disclosed on every DBS application that a candidate puts forward. These include serious violent or sexual crimes, which are relevant in a safeguarding context, whether they are committed in the UK or abroad. There are many types of crimes that have specific rules, so if you need more information, please get in touch with Eurocom CI.

How Long Does a DBS Check Last?

Contrary to popular opinion, DBS checks do not expire. It’s up to employers to request an up-to-date check if they deem it necessary, but it’s not a legal requirement. People don’t need to complete a DBS every time they apply for a job, but candidates and employers can use the DBS Update Service to make the application process more manageable.

eBulk DBS and Background Check Services

If your organisation needs some proactive, efficient and helpful background check services, Eurocom CI would love to help you. We offer our clients an eBulk DBS service, where they can oversee multiple ongoing DBS check applications, as well as other types of background checks they require. We can customise this to meet your needs, so get in touch to find out more.

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