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Has an employer wrongly checked your official criminal record? Find out more.

For more latest news, you can:

  1. see the posts at the bottom of this page
  2. click here for a full list of news posts
  3. sign up our mailing list to receive updates by email
  4. follow the latest on Twitter using the hashtag #unlawfulcheck

The problem

Despite the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, some employers flout the rules and seek to get a higher level of criminal record check that what they’re entitled to or take into account information they’re not entitled to. Very often, the DBS fail to prevent ineligible checks from being processed.

What we think needs to change

We believe that employers should have fair and inclusive policies and procedures that support the recruitment of people with convictions.

We are working on this issue as part of our fair access to employment project.

What we’re doing

As part of our fair access to employment project, we are working to reduce the number of unlawful checks being carried out by the DBS.

There remains an ongoing problem with employers submitting applications for ineligible checks (I.e. standard or enhanced checks for roles that are only eligible for basic checks). This has a significant detrimental impact on individuals. Spent convictions are not disclosed on a basic check but are on standard or enhanced checks. Employers who knowingly submit ineligible checks are committing a criminal offence under the Police Act 1997. Although not all ineligible checks are unlawful, the DBS should have stopped them. An ineligible check has never been legally challenged as a criminal offence. Consequently, there are no repercussions to undertaking ineligible / unlawful checks.

Although our casework has achieved success, a legal challenge would have a significant impact. We will:

  • Work with the DBS to push for, and monitor delivery of, a comprehensive review of their process for identifying ineligible checks.
  • Depending on the outcome of the review, a potential legal challenge against the DBS for continuing to facilitate ineligible checks.
  • Continue to advocate individuals affected by ineligible checks
  • Seek a legal challenge against an employer, to demonstrate the risks of processing ineligible checks

Latest news

See the bottom of this page for our latest posts about this issue.

You can also find below the latest from Twitter, using the hashtag #unlawfulcheck (although we cannot endorse what gets displayed here).


For more information

  1. Practical self-help information  – We have guidance on criminal record checks on our information site
  2. Personal experiences – We have posts relating to unlawful or ineligible checks on our online magazine, theRecord
  3. Discuss this issue – Share your views and experiences on our online forum
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