Has an employer wrongly checked your official criminal record? Get in touch

As part of our Fair Access to Employment project we’re looking for examples of employers who have carried out inappropriate levels of criminal record checks.  We’re gathering this information to feed into our legal strategy which aims to put an end to unlawful criminal record checks.

We’re especially keen to hear from anyone who believes that an employer has carried out a standard or enhanced criminal record check for a role that wasn’t eligible for that level of check and that employer has subsequently taken into account spent convictions or other information from the police that they were not entitled to see (so called “soft intelligence” or “local police information”).


When can criminal records checks be carried out?

For most roles you don’t need to disclose your criminal record once it’s ‘spent’. This is because of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. Most convictions will become spent at some point. We have a tool that can help work this out (disclosurecalculator.org.uk) or visit hub.unlock.org.uk/roa for guidance.

Some jobs involve standard or enhanced DBS checks. For these, you’ll normally need to disclose spent convictions and cautions as well, unless they are now filtered by the DBS.  Enhanced checks may also include additional “soft intelligence” held in police records.

It is not always obvious whether a role is eligible for a criminal records check or at what level, but in general the following rules apply:

The following roles – involving work with children and vulnerable adults – are generally eligible for enhanced checks:

  • Working with children and vulnerable adults
  • Teacher
  • Social worker
  • NHS professional
  • Carer
  • Taxi driving licences

The following roles will generally be eligible for standard checks only (i.e. not enhanced checks):

  • Applying for a security industry licence
  • Solicitor/Barrister
  • Accountant
  • Veterinary surgeon
  • FCA ‘Approved Persons’ roles
  • Football stewards
  • Traffic warden
  • Member of the Master Locksmiths Association

All other roles are eligible for basic checks, which will show only unspent convictions.

So, if you have applied for a role that is not listed above, but a DBS check has been carried out, it may have been ineligible.  By way of illustration, the following roles will generally not be eligible for a standard or enhanced check:

  • Working in airports
  • Office work
  • Hospitality industry
  • Retail, supermarkets
  • Personal licence to sell alcohol

Find out more about different roles and the level of check they are eligible for by visiting our page on eligibility for standard and enhanced checks.


The types of information we’re looking for

We’re interested to hear examples where:

  1. Employers have carried out a standard or enhanced criminal record check which revealed spent convictions or “soft intelligence” or both, AND
  1. The role in question was not eligible for that level of check (i.e. a standard check was carried out when the role was only eligible for a basic check, or an enhanced check was carried out when the role was only eligible for a standard or basic check).

We will review all of the evidence and advise you about your options, including potentially participating in legal action against the employer or umbrella body for submitting an ineligible check or against the DBS for processing an ineligible check.


What we need from you

If you have relevant information to share, simply get in touch in confidence by emailing debbie.sadler@unlock.org.uk or calling Debbie on 01622 230740.

It will be helpful if you can have the following details to hand when you get in touch:

  1. The name of the employer (or umbrella body if relevant) that did the check
  2. The job title of the role you applied for, and a description of the responsibilities
  3. A copy of the job advert (if available)
  4. The full details of your criminal record
  5. Details of what the employer told you about the check – for example, did they tell you it was necessary for the role you were applying for and, if so, did they say anything else about why?
  6. Details of what happened when the disclosure certificate was given to the employer

We are being advised by the law firm Bindmans LLP who may need to review information provided in order to give Unlock advice about our legal strategy.  By providing us with the information, you are agreeing that we and Bindmans can process this information.  We guarantee that any personal details that you send us will be entirely confidential and will not be shared outside of Unlock and Bindmans LLP without your express permission.   For more details on sending your details to us, click here.


Written by Christopher Stacey, Co-director of Unlock

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