New regulations, in force from 28 November, mean that standard and enhanced DBS checks in England and Wales will no longer list youth cautions, reprimands and warnings or multiple convictions (regardless of whether they are spent or their nature). This is in response to a Supreme Court case from 2019 which held that the multiple conviction rule and the requirement to disclose reprimands and warnings administered to youth offenders was incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights; the right to a private life. 

It is certainly good news for individuals who made some unwise decisions in their youth which has hampered their job prospects in adult life. Good news also for those whose job opportunities are hampered by disclosure of more than one conviction where the conviction has no bearing on the job they wish to carry out and yet the role requires a clear criminal records check. From 28 November, each conviction will be considered individually and not automatically disclosed. As a society, we should be encouraging people who have made mistakes to rebuild their lives and make better choices. However, employers in some sectors, like social care, housing or education, need to know that recruitment checks are robust enough so you can protect the safety of vulnerable adults and children in your care. The clarification below may provide some comfort;

  • Spent convictions for sexual or violent crimes will still be disclosed regardless of when they were committed; it is only youth cautions, reprimands and warnings that will not be disclosed as “relevant matter”.
  • Similarly, multiple convictions for sexual or violent crimes (either current or spent) will also be disclosed; this change just ensures that each conviction is dealt with individually.
  • The list of offences which will always be disclosed (unless they relate to a youth caution) on a standard or enhanced DBS check remains and can be found here.
  • All convictions resulting in a custodial sentence, whether suspended or not, will always be disclosed.
  • We do not envisage any problems with regulators on this issue; provided the DBS checks are carried out and there is a rigorous assessment of whether roles required an enhanced or standard check, you should be meeting the necessary standards.