The Difference Between CRB and DBS

Introduction – The Difference Between CRB and DBS

What is the difference between CRB and DBS Checks? DBS checks and CRB checks are the two names that are often 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 checks and if there is a difference between CRB and DBS, what is it?

Technically, there is a difference between CRB and DBS checks, but it isn’t as big as you may think. The difference between CRB and DBS is simply history! You can now only request a DBS check, which is much better than when the CRB and ISA used to handle checks separately. A CRB Check ceased to exist in 2012 when the DBS took over.

Difference between CRB and DBS

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 from the CRB.

Why Is The Term 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 has 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, all depending on the level of DBS check requested.

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

What Is The Difference Between CRB and DBS?

In short, the difference between CRB and DBS 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 details disclosed on the applicants that are having their checks done.

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, linked below:
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 in 2024, as a lot can happen in 11+ years!

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.

The table below shows the difference between CRB and DBS.

Aarons snippet graphics 10

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.

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
An optional add-on for Enhanced checks, Adult Firsts will tell you within 48 hours whether the individual is cleared to work with Vulnerable Adults while supervised, before their full DBS certificate is complete.

The Difference Between CRB and DBS – Summary

So, what is the difference between CRB and DBS? Both the CRB and DBS were created with the same purpose – to conduct criminal record checks. However, the CRB is no longer around, meaning that if you want a check on your current or potential staff, it must be done using a DBS check!

Aaron’s Department offers an affordable, easy-to-use, fast-tracked DBS application portal. If you’re an employer looking for checks for your staff why not give us a go? It’s free to register with us, and we’re pay-as-you go – no hidden fees or minimum number of checks. Have a quick look at our pricing page, and you’ll also find that we’re one of the cheapest providers on the market!

To register your company and have your checks processed the same working day, Sign up using the buttons below!

About The Author

FAQ: DBS Proof Of Address Documents

John Schofield-Antoncich

John has processed more applications than days he has been alive, and has become the DBS expert. Got a question? He knows the answer!

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