An introduction to DBS filtering

In recent years, significant changes have been made to the manner in which information is disclosed to employers via the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

basic DBS check available online

Until May 2013, employers who were entitled to carry out standard and enhanced checks received full details of cautions and convictions held on the Police National Computer (PNC). Following a Court of Appeal ruling, which described automatic disclosure as “disproportionate”, it was ruled that this violated article 8 of the Human Rights Act. The government subsequently made changes to the way the system works.


Consequently, some convictions and cautions are no longer disclosed on the certificates issued by the DBS. The process is known as filtering, and it involves the removal of cautions and convictions from the certificates, although they will remain on the PNC.

Although websites such as allow a basic DBS check available online, the new filtering rules are designed to aid employers with their own checks.

basic DBS check available online

Information on the impact of the new legislation is provided by the charity Unlock.


The criteria that apply to such non-disclosure can include the age of the offender, the nature of the offence, and the number of offences that have been committed. The certificate itself will not indicate which offences have been filtered.

The other impact upon individuals, who may have a basic DBS check themselves, is that employers must ensure that they do not ask applicants about offences that are protected and removed from the certificate when asking about their full criminal record. The certificate itself will not indicate that any offences have been filtered.

It is important to remember that when more than one offence appears on the PNC, all convictions will always be disclosed on the DBS certificate.

Applicants who wish to know whether their single conviction or caution will be filtered should refer to the DBS, who have provided a list of offences that will always remain on the certificate and will not be subjected to the filtering process.

As a simple rule of thumb, time-elapsed periods are divided between cautions and conviction and between under-18s and those over that age. For under-18s, a caution can be filtered after two years and convictions after five-and-a-half years. For over-18s, the periods are six years and 11 years respectively.

There is a list of exempt offences that will never be filtered.