DBS check fees reducing




From 1 October 2019 the fees for Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks will go down – from £25 to £23 for basic checks, from £26 to £23 for standard checks, and from £44 to £40 for enhanced checks. The fee for the update service remains the same, at £13 per year. Standard and enhanced checks for volunteers remain free of charge, but basic checks for volunteers incur the £25 fee. Where standard and enhanced checks are done through an umbrella body, or basic checks are done through a responsible organisation, that body may make an additional charge.

The DBS says the reduced fees “reflect the significant improvements in efficiency that DBS has achieved over the last few years and provide an opportunity for us to pass some of these benefits back to customers through lower pricing”.

The DBS news release is at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/fee-changes-for-dbs-checks.


From 1 August 2019, DBS is no longer amending applications for enhanced checks where an address at which the applicant has resided within the past five years has not been declared in section C of the application. If an address is missing, DBS will withdraw the application, and will notify the registered body which submitted the application. It will not inform  the applicant.

Similarly, if a registered body submits incorrect information in section X on the workforce (X61 on the paper application, “PositionAppliedFor” in e-Bulk applications) or home-based checks (X66/”WorkingAtHomeAddress”) DBS will contact the registered body to try to resolve the query. If there has been an error or omission the application will be withdrawn and the registered body, but not the applicant, will be notified.

No refund is given if DBS withdraws an application for the above reasons.


The provision in the Police Act 1997 for criminal conviction certificates, providing information only about convictions and conditional cautions that are unspent (i.e. still “live”) under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, was not implemented for England and Wales until September 2017. Criminal conviction certificates are now referred to as basic DBS checks, and are available for any job or role, or for an individual’s personal use.

Prior to September 2017, Disclosure Scotland provided basic checks not only for people living and working in Scotland, but also for people in England and Wales. Basic checks in Northern Ireland are available from Access NI.

An individual can apply online for their own basic DBS check or apply through a responsible organisation (RO) approved by the DSC, or can give consent for their employer, potential employer or organisation for which they will volunteer to apply through a responsible organisation. DBS guidance on basic checks includes a link to a list of responsible organisations. Basic DBS checks cost £25 (£23 from 1 October 2019), including for volunteers. Since June 2019 online applications by individuals can be made in Welsh, but the certificate will be in English.

There are many situations where standard and enhanced checks are not available but organisations may want basic checks for employees or volunteers, for example where they will be handling money but not in a senior finance role for which a standard check would be available, or will be dealing with the public which could include children but not in a “regulated activity” for which an enhanced check would be available.



In the past, many organisations tried to obtain criminal record checks for everyone working in their organisation, even where there was no lawful reason for doing this. Seeking checks – and therefore gaining access to criminal records information – where there is no legitimate purpose in doing so has been unlawful since data protection legislation was introduced in the UK 1984, and seeking standard and enhanced checks even for roles for which they are not lawfully available under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (Exceptions) Orders has been unlawful since 1975. But the introduction of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 on 25 May 2018 has focused minds on the relationship between criminal record checks and data protection legislation.

For those of you who are, like me, really into bullet point lists, here are three sets of key points on processing (collecting, using and retaining) information on criminal convictions and offences.

From the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the legal basics:

  • To process personal data about criminal convictions or offences, you must have both a lawful basis under article 6 of the GDPR and either legal authority or official authority for the processing under article 10.
  • The Data Protection Act 2018 deals with this type of data in a similar way to special category data, and sets out specific conditions providing lawful authority for processing it.
  • You can also process this type of data if you have official authority to do so because you are processing the data in an official capacity.
  • You cannot keep a comprehensive register of criminal convictions unless you do so in an official capacity.
  • You must determine your condition for lawful processing of offence data (or identify your official authority for the processing) before you begin the processing, and you should document this.

From Unlock, a national charity providing information, advice and support to people with convictions and to employers, key points for employers and volunteer-involving organisations:

  • Collecting criminal records at application stage is unlikely to be necessary and therefore in breach of the GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018.
  • Collecting at any stage must be justified by a link between purpose and processing.
  • You must identify a lawful basis for processing and meet a condition of processing.
  • Applicants have data subject rights that must be upheld.
  • Explaining how you will uphold applicants’ rights is key to meeting the condition of processing.

From NICVA, the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action, more for employers and volunteer-involving organisations:

  • Employers are responsible for looking after confidential personal data and ensuring legal responsibilities are met.
  • You should consider whether you require criminal records information for specific job roles, rather than take a blanket approach.
  • Employers can still ask for applicants to disclose unspent criminal conviction information during the recruitment process where necessary and where entitled to under the law.
  • But consideration should be given as to whether this information is really necessary and when is the best time to request it.
  • Collecting criminal records information at application stage is unlikely to be compliant with data protection laws.
  • Applicants should be informed where criminal records data is to be requested or checked, and provided with privacy information.
  • It’s important to consider how this information is stored and retained once it has been obtained.
  • You should outline your recruitment process and demonstrate how it complies with the data protection principles.

All of these briefings are fairly short (printing out at 3-4 pages). Details are below, along with another article I found particularly useful.


  • Criminal offence data. Information Commissioner’s Office: http://tinyurl.com/y5wxagw6.
  • New guidance published to support employers with GDPR, data protection and processing criminal records in recruitment. Unlock, 3 October 2018: https://www.unlock.org.uk/new-guidance-gdpr/.
  • Recruiting staff: GDPR and criminal convictions. Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action, 7 December 2018: http://tinyurl.com/y2javck7. This refers to AccessNI, the Northern Ireland equivalent to the Disclosure and Barring Service (for England and Wales) and Disclosure Scotland. But data protection rules, and rules on criminal record information, are the same throughout the UK.

Criminal record checks and the GDPR. Gregg Latchams solicitors, 18 June 2018: http://tinyurl.com/y2ezcoeh

From Sandy Adirondach

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