DBS ( formerly known as CRB) Checks


Please note: The DBS no longer facilitates portability, organisations that choose to accept a previously issued Disclosure do so at their own risk (see limitations)

What is portability?
Portability refers to the re-use of a DBS check (Disclosure), obtained for a position in one organisation and later used for another position in another organisation.

How can portability work?DBS checked and they tell you that they already have a DBS check, you can:

  • Ask the individual to show their copy of the DBS check.
  • Contact the Countersignatory named on the front of the DBS check and confirm that the reference number and identity details match.
  • Ask if the Countersignatory received any additional information - the Countersignatory can only confirm or otherwise the existence of such information – but not the content of the information.
  • If there is no additional information, carry out a formal risk assessment to decide whether to accept the DBS check.
  • If there was additional information, you are strongly advised to ask the individual to apply for a fresh check.

Those who move frequently between short-term appointments may not wish to apply for a fresh DBS check each time they seek a new position, especially if this occurs every few days. Similarly, those who take up two positions that both require a DBS check (for example, a full-time job and a weekend or voluntary position) may be able to avoid making two applications to the DBS – but read the limitations below and carry out a full risk assessment.




  • The DBS check may not be at the level you require - there are two different levels of check: Standard & Enhanced. If an Enhanced check is needed do not accept a ported Standard check.
  • The DBS check may not have included a check of List 99, Protection of Children Act List (POCA) and/or the Protection of Vulnerable Adults List Act (POVA).
  • A DBS check carries no formal period of validity and the older a check the less reliable the information is, as the information it contains may not be up to date. The date of the issue (on the individual’s copy) should be used as a guide as to when to request a new CRB check.
  • Information revealed through a DBS check always reflects the information that was available at the time of its issue.
  • You may be required by law to carry out a fresh check with List 99, POCA and/or POVA. In certain circumstances, portability cannot be used e.g. care workers need a new POVA check each time they change employment.
  • An original DBS check, not a photocopy, contains a number of security features to prevent tampering or forgery.

You need to understand the meaning of the wording that appears in the information boxes on Disclosure. ‘None recorded’ means no information was found, ‘Not requested’ means that that check was not done.

Police Records of Convictions, Cautions, Reprimands and Warnings

Protection of Children Act List information

Protection of Vulnerable Adults List information

Information from the list held under Section 142 of the Education Act 2002

Other relevant information disclosed at the Chief Police Officer(s) discretion.

Once a recruitment decision (or other relevant decision – e.g. for regulatory or licensing purposes) has been made, a recipient of a Disclosure must not retain it, or any associated correspondence, for longer than is necessary for the particular purpose. In general, this should be for a maximum of 6 months.


  • If you need to show it to the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI)/Care Standards Inspectorate for Wales (CSIW), you can keep it until the next inspection, then it should be destroyed.
  • If you are a teaching supply/recruitment agency you can retain DBS checks for up to 3 years.



  • Using a previously issued DBS check does not constitute a fresh DBS check – the person's criminal record or other relevant information may have changed since its issue.
  • Registered Bodies are responsible for the accuracy of the information provided to the DBS and on which it carries out its checks. By accepting a previously issued DBS check you are accepting the risk that the previous Registered Body provided the DBS with a fully validated applicant’s identity on which to carry out its checks.
  • Enhanced checks may contain ‘approved’ non-conviction information provided by the police from their local records. In the majority of cases, the DBS will print this information on both the applicant’s and Registered Body’s copy in the box entitled ‘Other relevant information disclosed at the Chief Police Officer(s) discretion’. However, occasionally the Chief Police Officer may, if thought necessary in the interests of the prevention or detection of crime, withhold this information from the applicant’s copy. The Registered Body's copy will contain the following words ‘Please refer to letter sent under separate cover’, printed under the date of issue on the Disclosure. If you choose to accept the applicant’s copy you will need to find out from the previous Countersignatory if such information was revealed in a separate letter.



Risk Assessment Framework

If you are considering accepting a previously issued DBS check you should carry out a full risk assessment. You may also wish to take further independent advice. Any risk assessment should take into account the following:

  • Are you required by law to get a new check?
  • Is the level of DBS check the same as the level you need?
  • How old is the DBS check?
  • Is the position for which the previously issued DBS check was obtained similar to the position for which you need a DBS check?
  • Have all checks that you need been carried out?
  • Have you validated and authenticated the person’s identity to ensure that the person presenting the DBS check is the person on whom the check was done? For instance, have you seen a range of identity documents that confirm their name, address, date and place of birth?
  • Is the applicant still living at the same address as the one printed on the DBS check?
  • If it is an Enhanced check, have you confirmed from the previous Countersignatory if any additional information was released by way of a separate letter?
  • Have you obtained the consent of the applicant to approach the other organisation?



Code of Practice

The DBS’s Code of Practice sets out the circumstances when the details of a DBS check can be passed to a third party. The Code states that information revealed through a DBS check can only be passed to individuals who need to see it as part of the recruitment decision, for which the DBS check was requested. This also applies to any additional information provided by the police under cover of a separate letter. If you are contacted by another organisation about a previously issued DBS check, you can only:

  • Confirm or not, whether the information provided reflects that which appears on your copy of the DBS check.
  • State if the police did or did not issue additional information issued under cover of a separate letter.

On 1 September 2006, regulations were introduced which allow the passing of DBS checks between agencies supplying staff to schools or further education institutions and those schools or institutions themselves.