DBS or CRB – What Is The Difference

DBS checks and CRB checks are the two names that often get thrown around when somebody is looking for essentially the same thing – a criminal record background check on their current or potential staff.

We regularly get asked if there’s a difference between the two and if there is, what it is. Technically, there is a difference between DBS and CRB checks, but as you’re going to find out, it isn’t as big as you may think.

What Is A CRB Check?

A CRB check was a criminal record background check, like a DBS check is today, using the Police National Computer (PNC) to discover whether an individual has any relevant caution or convictions. 

The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) carried out these checks from 2002 until 2012 when the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) was introduced and took over.

Why Is CRB Still Commonly Used?

Despite the change from CRB to DBS being years ago, sometimes old habits die hard! For some, their last criminal record check may have been a CRB check, so this is what they know. 

As mentioned, the CRB no longer do criminal record checks, which means you can no longer request a CRB check in its old format. Instead, you’ll have to get a DBS check!

What Is A DBS Check?

Ever since the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) merged with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) back in 2012, the Disclosure and Barring Service have been providing DBS checks. These are essentially the same as the CRB checks, providing a criminal record check against an individual, showing any cautions, convictions and reprimands, depending on the level of DBS check requested.

If needed, a check against the Children and/or Vulnerable Adults Barred List can be done. Before 2012, the CRB and ISA would handle these separately, which could cause delays, but this is all done in one place now.

What Is The Difference Between the CRB and DBS?

In short, the difference between the DBS and CRB is simply history! You can now only request a DBS check, which is much better than when the CRB and ISA used to handle the checks separately.

Despite this change, you still get the same, important details on the applicants that are having the DBS check done.

Did This Split Affect Anything?

Apart from the fact that you can no longer get a CRB check, one of the main changes was to who is actually eligible for the higher levels of DBS checks. 

If you’re not quite sure on what level of DBS check your staff or potential recruits require, you can always check out our DBS Eligibility Guide.

Are CRB Certificates Still Valid?

Like DBS checks, CRB checks have no expiry date, so technically they are still valid. However, if someone’s latest check was a CRB one, it’s highly recommended getting a new DBS check, as a lot can happen in 9 years or more!

It’s up to the employers to decide how regularly they want an update to the DBS check, but this can also be impacted by the industry guidelines and regulations.

What Types of DBS/CRB Checks Are There?

There are three types of DBS checks, which are as follows: 

Basic DBS Check – This is the only check that both individuals and employers can apply for. This shows any ‘unspent’ convictions the individual in question has. 

Standard DBS Check – Unlike a Basic DBS check, only employers can request this check for current/potential employees. This will show both ‘spent’ and ‘unspent’ convictions for the individual that the check is being done on.
Want to know the difference between spent and unspent convictions? You can read all about them on our “What’s The Difference Between a Spent and Unspent Conviction” blog. 

Enhanced DBS Check – Like the Standard check, the Enhanced DBS check can only be requested by employers. This includes ‘spent’ and ‘unspent’ convictions, as well as any information held by the Local Police Force which is deemed relevant for the check.
If needed (and legally required for the job role) a check against the Children’s and/or Vulnerable Adults Barred List will be done. 

Adult First Check – Only available as part of an Enhanced check, this will tell you (usually within 48 hours) whether the individual is on the Vulnerable Adults Barred List. This is often used by employers to make quicker recruitment decisions, and get their staff into work faster whilst being supervised.

The Wrap Up – CRB & DBS

Both the CRB and DBS were created with the same purpose – to conduct criminal record checks. However, the CRB are no longer in force, meaning that if you want a background check on your current, or potential, staff, it must be through a DBS check!

If you’re looking to get a DBS check done, then you can do it all here!

To register your company and have your checks processed the same day (if submitted before 4 pm), then click the big red button below!

If you’d like to read about what we have to offer and the process behind Online DBS applications, click the dark button instead.


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