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Where do I go to get help with CRB checks?


What is the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB)?

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) was established when the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) merged in 2012. CRB checks are now known as DBS checks.


The DBS is a government scheme which aims to help organisations in England make more informed recruitment decisions. The DBS perform checks on volunteers and employees who are working with children or vulnerable adults. This prevents unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children, through its criminal record checking and barring functions. It provides a regulated ‘one stop’ service offering access to records held by the police together with those held by the Department of Health and the Department of Education.


DBS is an executive non-departmental public body of the Home Office


Are DBS checks compulsory?

CRB checks are not compulsory by law but the CRB recommend that checks are completed on any individual who is in regular contact with children or vulnerable adults. According to their guidelines regular contact is more than once a week or more than four times per month. This includes club coaches, teachers, poolside helpers, team managers and chaperones. As each club is different this may also include timekeepers, lifeguards or staff in a club shop. Also many sports federations / National Governing Bodies (NGBs) require your club to make CRB checks compulsory for those employees and volunteers who are in direct contact with children or vulnerable adults. Examples of this are the FA and ASA who require clubs to have completed, or be in the process of completing these checks on volunteers before they become a member of the association. CRB checks may also be beneficial to a club’s reputation, building confidence in child protection standards, attracting new members and improving the retention of current members.


How much does it cost?

A standard CRB check is £26 and an enhanced CRB check is £44. CRB checks are free of charge to volunteers. The DBS defines a volunteer as:


‘A person engaged in an activity which involves spending time, unpaid (except for travel and other approved out-of-pocket expenses), doing something which aims to benefit some third party other than, or in addition to, a close relative.’



How long are CRB checks valid for?

CRB checks have no period of validity as the information on the Disclosure is a snap shot in time at the date that the checks were completed and must be seen as just one part of a safe recruitment process. It is recommended that organisations recheck their staff and volunteers after a certain period of time. Some organisations recheck their staff and individuals every year or two years, but according to CRB, the most common is every three years.


Challenging the information revealed on a CRB check

If an individual within your sports club thinks there is an error with their CRB check or do not agree with any of the information then they can call the CRB dispute line on 0870 9090 778. Disputes must be raised with the CRB within three months of the date of issue of the Disclosure.


Further Help and Advice

You can contact the CRB information line on 0870 90 90 844 or visit their website (


The Process

Before an organisation can request disclosure data about an employee or volunteer your sports club must register with the CRB and ensure that they are entitled to ask that individual about their conviction history.


  1. The employer gets an application form from DBS or an umbrella body (a registered body that gives access to DBS checks).
  2. The employer gives the applicant the form to fill in and return to them along with documents proving their identity.
  3. The employer sends the completed application form to DBS or their umbrella body.
  4. DBS sends a certificate to the applicant. The employer will have to ask the applicant to see the certificate.


The CRB recognises that information released on Disclosures can be extremely sensitive and personal. Therefore a code of practice for recipients Disclosures has been developed to ensure that any information they contain is handled fairly and used properly. It is available at


The CRB tries to complete:

  • 95 per cent of standard checks within two weeks of receiving your application form
  • 90 per cent of enhanced checks within four weeks of receiving your application form
  • 100 per cent of all checks within eight weeks of receiving your application form


Types of CRB Disclosure

There are two levels of disclosure by which the CRB provide criminal record data: standard disclosure and enhanced. The legislation relating to checks, the Exceptions Order to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974, gives permissions for applications to standard level and in order to qualify for the higher level, your organisation must be one of those listed in the Exceptions Order.


A third form of disclosure, the basic disclosure, is not currently available, but is intended for individuals to obtain copies of their own criminal record, though members of the public can currently do this by requesting ‘subject access’ under the data protection act from any British police force, regardless of where the subject lives.


The standard disclosure is primarily for positions involving regular contact with children or vulnerable adults, but can also be used for some other professions of high responsibility (for example, accountancy). Standard disclosures reveal details of any convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings the applicant has received, regardless of length of time since the incidents; together with details of whether that person is banned from working with children or vulnerable adults (if these details have been requested).


Enhanced disclosure is for positions involving greater contact with children or vulnerable adults (for example: sports coaches, teachers, nurses), and for certain additional professions (for example, judicial appointments). In general, the type of work will involve regularly caring for, supervising, training or being in sole charge of children or vulnerable people. Examples include working as a teacher, sports coach, Scout or Guide leader. Enhanced checks are also issued for certain statutory purposes such as gaming and lottery licences.


In addition to the information provided on a Standard Disclosure, the Enhanced Disclosure involves an additional check with the police, who check if any other information is held on file that may be relevant (for instance, investigations that have not led to a criminal record). The police decide what (if any) additional information will be added to the Disclosure. In rare circumstances the police may write to the organisation separately giving confidential information about an ongoing criminal investigation into the applicant. This information may not be released to the applicant and the organisation cannot reveal it to them.