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Criminal record checks: an introduction

If you apply for some jobs in England and Wales you can be asked to have a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check. Find out why checks are needed, what they are and what the check will involve.

Why criminal record checks are needed

When you apply for certain types of job you may be asked to apply for a criminal record check. These are generally jobs that mean you:

  • will be working regularly with children or vulnerable people
  • will be working in an establishment that is wholly or mainly for children
  • will be working in healthcare
  • have applied to be a foster carer, adoptive parent or childminder
  • will be working in certain other professions (details of all these professions are provided on the link below)

If you do need a criminal record check, your prospective employer will let you know and tell you what to do next.

What is a criminal record check?

Contact the CRB

Call the CRB helpline on
0870 9090 811 or use the online enquiry form:

The CRB check searches your details against criminal records and other sources, including the Police National Computer. The check may reveal convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings.

You, and your employer, will see the results of your search. Whatever the results your employer will decide whether they can still employ you.

What you’ll find on a criminal record check

The CRB check will either confirm that you don’t have a criminal record, or it will list any relevant convictions, cautions, reprimands, warnings and, if applicable, whether you have been barred from working with vulnerable groups. The police can also include non-conviction information, for example, fixed penalties, that may be relevant.

The information sources used in a criminal record check

A CRB check uses a range of different information sources, including the records of:

  • the Police National Computer (PNC) and other data sources
  • the Independent Safeguarding Authority

Who can ask for a criminal record check?

If the job needs a criminal record check any employer can ask for one. However, only organisations registered with the CRB can submit applications for criminal records checks.

There are two types of registered organisation:

  • a registered body - the employer
  • an umbrella body - a registered body that processes criminal record checks for non-registered organisations

Can you apply for your own criminal record check?

The self-employed or individuals can’t legally apply for a criminal record check on themselves.

Refusing to apply for a criminal record check

You can refuse to have a criminal record check carried out. However, there are some jobs for which a CRB check is required by law. In that instance, if you refuse the check your employer won’t be able to take your application any further.

If you have completed a CRB application form at the request of your employer, and you don’t think this type of check is appropriate, you can contact the CRB on 0870 90 90 811 or using the enquiry form.

They will investigate and let you know if you should stop your application.

Will you ever need to have another criminal record check?

You might have to have another CRB check if you move to another job that involves working with children or vulnerable adults.

If you have been asked to apply for a CRB check, and already have one from a previous role, you can ask if the organisation is willing to accept it.

When deciding if they will accept it, the organisation will consider:

  • the length of time since the check was issued
  • the level of check needed
  • the role the check was issued for
  • the role you are applying for

If your CRB certificate is lost or destroyed, the CRB can’t provide a replacement certificate. You will need to apply and pay again.

How to contact the Criminal Records Bureau

CRB helpline for all general enquiries: 0870 9090 811
8.00 am to 8.00 pm on weekdays
10.00 am to 5.00 pm on Saturday (closed Sunday and public holidays)

Transgender applicants only: telephone 0151 676 1452
or email: crbsensitive@crb.gsi.gov.uk

Welsh enquiries: 0870 90 90 223

All calls to the CRB are recorded for training and security purposes. Security questions will be asked to verify your identity.

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