CRB Check FAQ's

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CRB CHECK FAQ's



CRB Checks?

The term "CRB Checks" is the acronym for "Criminal Record Bureau Checks" and refers to Criminal Record Checks carried out by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Disclosures Scotland via CRB registered umbrella bodies.

Generalised descriptions include: Police record checks, background checks, criminal checks, criminal background checks, employment background checks, employee background checks, staff vetting, employee vetting, pre-employment vetting and tenant vetting.

There are three levels of check:

Basic Check - referred to as a Basic Disclosure

Standard Check - referred to as a Standard Disclosure

Enhanced Check - referred to as an Enhanced Disclosure

Volunteer Disclosure - There is also a check available to companies, businesses, voluntary agencies, charities or organisations for their voluntary workers, referred to as a Volunteer Disclosure, which can be either Standard or Enhanced depending on the type of voluntary work a person will be involved in.

Note: You can see full details of each of the above, including who can apply, costs, how to apply etc on the coloured links at the top of this page.

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What is the CRB ?

The CRB is an executive agency of the Home Office and provides access to criminal record information through its checking service via registered umbrella bodies.

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What are CRB Registered Umbrella Bodies

CRB registered umbrella bodies are businesses registered with the CRB who process CRB Check (Disclosure) applications on behalf of organisations who are not registered with the CRB themselves.

For example, APCS is one of the leading CRB registered umbrella bodies processing tens of thousands of applications a year for individuals, self employed people, business, companies and agencies throughout the UK and Overseas.

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Can anyone check a criminal record?

Many online services give the impression that anyone can simply check a person's criminal record online instantly! This is not the case.

Official CRB Checks (Criminal Record Bureau Checks) can only be carried out after an individual or employer submits a written and signed crb application form which includes a "proof of identity" check.

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How long does it take?

Our Ebulk Online CRB Checks service is extremely fast !

  • Enhanced Disclosures sometimes received in as little as 24hrs
  • 80% of Enhanced Disclosures back to you within one week
  • 100% of Standard Disclosures back to you within one week
  • On average it's an 8 day quicker turnaround compared to paper based applications

(See Special note re Enhanced Disclosures further below)

Paper based application forms:

From our receipt of your completed application form to you actually receiving the Disclosure Certificate is as follows:

Note: These are the actual times, not enthusiastic guesses given by some companies !

Basic Disclosure - 12 to 16 days

Standard Disclosure - 12 to 18 days

Enhanced Disclosure - 90% are completed within 4 weeks

Special Note re: Enhanced Disclosures Only

Where local police records contain additional information that might be relevant to the post the applicant is being considered for, the Chief Officer of Police may release information for inclusion in an Enhanced Disclosure.

The time taken is dependent on the Chief Officer of Police in a given County (Police Area) to respond to the request for the additional information held on local police records.

If an applicant has had two or more previous addresses which fall in different counties it can take longer because the local records have to be checked for each county (Police area) the applicant has lived in.

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Can I check the progress of a crb application?

Please contact your Disclosure supplier if you have ordered a disclosure through another company.

Note: The following contact information is for APCS customers only:

Basic Disclosure - To check the progress of your Basic Disclosure application please call us on:

0845 643 1145 (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday)

Standard or Enhanced Disclosure - You can track the progress of your Standard or Enhanced Disclosure either:

On-line through the CRB Tracking service,

Or by calling us on: 0845 643 1145 (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday)

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How do they check?

The CRB have clearance to access the Police National Computer, Government Records and Local Police Records.

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What are CRB Checks used for ?

Primarily, CRB Checks are used by businesses, companies, recruitment agencies and organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors, to make safer recruitment decisions by identifying candidates who may be unsuitable for certain work that involves children or vulnerable adults.

However, many companies and organisations are now using CRB checks as an essential part of their recruitment procedure to ensure their current and prospective staff members are of good character.

CRB Checks are also available to individuals for visa applications, for an application for a personal liquor licence, to check if you have a criminal record, or to provide official evidence that you have a clean record, which is becoming increasingly popular for job applications. Please see Basic Disclosure

Self employed people can also apply for a basic crb check. This provides official evidence that you have a clean record and is used to increase customer confidence and gain a marketing advantage over competitors. Please see Basic Disclosure and Basic Disclosure with Photo ID Card

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What is a Disclosure ?

After a CRB check is completed an Official Disclosure Certificate (sometimes referred to as a disclosure document) is issued by the CRB showing the results of the check.

There are three levels of Disclosure: Basic, Standard and Enhanced.

Note: You can see full details of each of the above, including who can apply, costs, how to apply etc on the links at the top of this page.

Depending on the type / level of check requested, it may contain details of spent and unspent convictions, reprimands, warnings and where appropriate, local police records (see Disclosure Information Chart further below)

If a Disclosure contains no record of criminal convictions it is considered to be a testament to good character and conduct.

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What does the word "disclosure" mean?

Disclosure means the giving out of information to be in compliance with legal regulations or workplace rules.

In the law of England and Wales, disclosure refers to a process that may form part of legal proceedings, whereby parties inform ("disclose") to other parties the existence of any relevant documents that are, or have been, in their control.

A CRB Disclosure - is an official certificate (sometimes referred to as a document) containing impartial and confidential criminal history information held by the police and government departments.

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What information will I be asked ?

The Disclosure Application Form asks for the following information from the applicant:

Name and personal details of the applicant

Addresses over the last five years

If applied for by an employer, the employer adds the following information:

Employers name and address.

Applicant's job title.

Identity checks on the applicant, which may include driver's licence, birth certificate or passport details.

For an additional fee of £10.00 plus VAT APCS can liaise directly with the applicant and arrange for identity checks to be carried out at a local Post Office.

Please see ID Checks further below.

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Who will receive the Disclosure ?

Basic Disclosures:

The CRB issue only one copy of a Basic Disclosure. We send it to the person who requested it (the employer or the applicant).

Standard or Enhanced Disclosures:

The applicant will receive the Disclosure by post directly from the CRB.

In addition, a copy of the Standard or Enhanced Disclosure is also sent to the Umbrella Body (us). After checking the company or organisation is aware of the CRB code of practice for using disclosure information, we then send it to the company or organisation employing the applicant.

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How confidential is the information provided ?

Organisations using the Disclosure service are bound by the CRB Code of Practice, which is issued under section 122 of Part V of the Police Act 1997”.

Note: APCS supply the Code of Practice with your first order.

Under the provisions of the Code, sensitive personal information must be handled and stored appropriately and must be kept only for as long as necessary. The Code of Practice is published on the CRB website, a copy will be provided by APCS. Once the recruitment decision is taken, there is no need to retain the Disclosure document. The date and reference number is sufficient evidence that checks have been made.

It is a criminal offence to pass on any information in a Disclosure to any third party.

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What if a Disclosure reveals a criminal record ?

Safeguards and guidelines have been introduced to ensure that conviction information is not misused and that ex-offenders are not treated unfairly.

The CRB Code of Practice covers how recipients of Disclosures use the information revealed.

In particular, an employer must consider:

Whether the conviction is relevant to the position in question.

The seriousness of the matter revealed.

The length of time since the matter occurred.

Note: APCS supply the Code of Practice with your first order.

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Disclosure Information Chart - The criminal record information which is checked and recorded (where appropriate) in the three levels of crb disclosure.

Information Included: Basic Disclosure Standard Disclosure Enhanced Disclosure
Unspent criminal convictions Yes Yes Yes
Spent criminal convictions No Yes Yes
Cautions, reprimands and final warnings (please see descriptions below chart) No Yes Yes
Inclusion on children's' lists
(where relevant to post applied for)
No No Yes
Inclusion on adults' lists
(where relevant to post applied for)
No No Yes
Other relevant information held by police forces No No Yes

If a Disclosure contains no record of criminal convictions it is considered to be a testament to good character.

What are Cautions ?

A 'simple caution' is not a criminal conviction, but it will be recorded on the police database. It may be used in court as evidence of bad character, or as part of an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) application. The record will remain on the police database along with photographs, fingerprints and any other evidence taken.

A 'conditional caution' differs from a simple caution in that you must comply with certain conditions to receive the caution and to avoid prosecution for the offence you've committed.

Just like a simple caution, a conditional caution is not a criminal conviction. But it will be recorded on the police database and may be considered in court if you are tried for another offence. The record will remain on the police database along with photographs, fingerprints and any other samples taken at the time.

Do young offenders receive cautions?

No! Young offenders (aged 17 and under) are given 'reprimands' and 'final warnings' instead of simple cautions. This is to try and keep them out of the court system.

What are reprimands and final warnings?

Anybody between the ages of 10 and 18 years can receive a reprimand and/or final warning. A reprimand is issued for a minor first offence. A final warning is issued by the police for a second offence, no matter how minor. It is also possible to get a final warning if the first offence is too serious for a reprimand.

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Spent / Unspent Convictions

Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, a conviction becomes spent after a period of time. The rehabilitation period varies according to the sentence given, not to the offence committed. For a custodial sentence, the length of time actually served is irrelevant: the rehabilitation period is determined by the original sentence. *Custodial sentences of more than two and a half years never become spent. Please see the Chart below:

The following sentences become spent after fixed periods from the date of conviction. Rehabilitation Period
Sentence Over 18
when convicted
Under 18
when convicted
Prison sentence (including suspended sentences)
- 6 mths to 2.5 yrs
10 yrs 5 yrs
Prison sentence (including suspended sentences)
- 6 mths or less
7 yrs 3.5 yrs
Fines, probation, compensation, community service, reparation orders, curfew orders 5yrs 2.5 yrs
Absolute discharge 6 mths 6mths

Custodial sentences* of more than two and a half years never become spent.

Never Never

* A custodial sentence, also known as a sentence of imprisonment, or detention, is where the offender is detained in custody for a period of time.

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How long is a Disclosure valid ?

Each Disclosure will show the date on which it was provided. The older the Disclosure the less reliable it becomes. The CRB recommends that disclosures should be renewed every 3 years, or when a person changes their employer however, some organisations have regulations that may require renewals at shorter periods.

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ID Checking – Can APCS do this for me ?

In normal circumstances the employer checks the applicant’s ID documents when they fill in the Disclosure Application form, perhaps at the job interview. The information pack we send out explains how these checks are done.

In some circumstances, it is not possible for the employer to do this, usually because the applicants are geographically dispersed.

APCS can deal with these applicants directly with our innovative ID Checking solutions. The employer’s involvement can then be reduced to simply putting the applicant in touch with APCS initially, and receiving the disclosure at the end of the process.

Please contact APCS for further information on how we can help.

Tel: 0845 643 1145

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