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What is Filtering on a DBS check?

Filtering is a process that was introduced in May 2013 to help address the issue of applicants who are subject to DBS checks being subjected to a rather unfair negative bias if something comes up on their record that is wholly irrelevant to the job they are looking to apply for. When an enhanced DBS check is carried out, employers will be able to see all and any offences that are on that particular person’s record. However, things such as cautions and fines may not be at all relevant to the position that they’re going to be applying for.

Filtering Explained

Filtering essentially is the process of removing any protected cautions or convictions from a DBS check, essentially ‘filtering’ these out. This is done to provide a fair reflection on the DBS check, whilst, at the same time, protecting the privacy of the person who is the subject of the DBS check. When they receive their DBS certificate at the end of the check, fortunately, it won’t specify whether anything has been filtered out or not. Rather it is just omitted altogether and that’s it.

What Offences Can Be Filtered?

Certain offences are applicable to be filtered. These include any warnings or offences that took place several years ago and weren’t recent. There are certain criteria that these offences need to meet however for them to be filtered the following will be considered:

  • What type of sentence - if you have had a previous conviction that you didn’t subsequently receive a custodial sentence for, this will be filtered, regardless of whether it was spent or unspent.
  • How many offences - the person who is the subject of the DBS check must NOT have more than one conviction.
  • How long has surpassed since the offence - as we have touched upon already, the offence must have taken place several years ago to be considered for filtration

The Impact On Both Employers And The Applicant

If you are an employer, it’s only natural, and equally as understandable, for you to want to know everything you can about the candidate so that you can make as informed a decision as possible about the candidate before making an offer of employment. However, if certain cautions, for example, one for littering, are included, this can lead you to gain a negative opinion of that person straight away and this is where the negative bias stems from and why filtering was introduced.

Likewise, if someone is applying for a job and they need to go through an enhanced DBS check and have a non-custodial conviction, they need to know what filtering it so that they aren’t deterred straight away from applying to the job. And so, before applying for a job, it’s recommended that they review their convictions and offences against the above criteria to see if they are eligible to be filtered and therefore have the conviction removed from the DBS check report in their entirety.

Situations Where Filtering Is Prohibited

There are some, albeit a small number of jobs where filtering can’t take place. These are usually in very niche and high-skilled jobs such as when you are going to apply for a job in the police, or if you’re applying for any job that requires you to have a firearms license. Understandably these exceptions are rightly justified as if anyone was to be given, for example, a firearms license without proper the appropriate DBS approval, this could have drastic consequences on public safety.

In Summary

In summary, if you’re going to apply for a job but you have historical convictions or offences, you should never write yourself off straight away when you see that a DBS check is going to be carried out. Look at the criteria we have discussed today and compare your conviction against them, the chances are if it is historical and was non-custodial that it could be filtered so that it isn’t going to have any negative influence on your DBS check and it may make the difference between you applying for the job or not. Filtering is a great advancement in DBS checks and allows for a wider variety of individuals to apply for certain positions that previously were not accessible to them.

About The Authors

Paolo Reyna

Paolo Reyna - Paolo is a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, majoring in International Studies with a Latin American emphasis. During the fall semester of 2012, he had the opportunity to study abroad in Peru, which piqued his interest in international growth. He learned about the disparities that impact indigenous peoples, got a taste of Peruvian culture, and improved his Spanish skills. Mitchel interned with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, conducting research on food security in Latin America, after being inspired by his foreign experience. He wants to work in international development and for a government department, writing legislation. He loves playing intramural basketball and practicing for the Chicago marathon when he is not thinking about current events in Latin America.

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