Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks

The University makes use of the DBS service for admitting students to courses where a DBS Disclosure is a requirement of admission, and for placement purposes.

For the majority of courses, the University will only ask about "unspent" convictions, as defined in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. A DBS Enhanced Disclosure is a specific requirement of admission to courses where students may be placed in a position of trust and/or may be dealing with children and/or vulnerable adults.

These courses are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975. Exemptions are defined within The Police Act 1997 and The Police Act 1997 (Enhanced Criminal Record Certificates) (Protection of Vulnerable Adults) Regulations 2002.

Legislation that came into effect on 29 May 2013 allows for some old or minor convictions and cautions to be exempt from disclosure under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (as amended). This means that under the new filtering rules, applicants will no longer need to declare certain old and minor convictions or cautions and the University cannot take these into account in their decisions, even though the applicant may be carrying out what the DBS calls "Regulated Activity". This process is referred to as the "filtering" of convictions and more information can be found in our DBS policies below.

DBS Policies

As an organisation using the Disclosure and Barring Service Disclosure service, the University of Sheffield complies fully with the DBS Code of Practice. The University's formal Policy Statement on Disclosure and Barring Service checks for applicants and students is below. You will also wish to consult the following University policy pages:

The information provided by the DBS or students themselves will be treated in strictest confidence and in accordance with the University's Guidelines for Staff Dealing with Personal Data. A copy of the University's full policy concerning the Security, Storage and Retention of Applicant/Student Disclosure Information is available on written request from:

Admissions Manager (DBS)
Admissions Service
The University of Sheffield
Level 2, Arts Tower
Western Bank
Sheffield
S10 2TN

This policy has been developed in accordance with the guidelines set out in the DBS Code of Practice and must be adhered to at all times; failure to do so will be subject to formal investigation and may lead to disciplinary action.

DBS policy statement

Background
  • The University of Sheffield is committed to the fair treatment of its students and applicants, and no individual will be unjustifiably discriminated against on the basis of race, colour, nationality, ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital or parental status, age, disability, political or religious or socio-economic class. Please see the University's Equal Opportunities Policy for Students for further information.

  • As an organisation using the Disclosure and Barring Service Disclosure service, the University of Sheffield complies fully with the DBS Code of Practice.

  • For the majority of courses, the University will only ask about "unspent" convictions, as defined in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. However, the University of Sheffield offers educational/training programmes which require students to come into contact with the public and assume positions of trust. To ensure the protection of the public, and justify public trust and confidence, The University is required to ensure that only suitable candidates are allowed to undertake these programmes of study/training. The University of Sheffield uses the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Disclosure service to assess the suitability of such applicants, and requires that applicants provide an Enhanced Disclosure. Please note that for some courses, particularly in teaching, health (including medicine and dentistry), social work and other courses involving work with children and/or vulnerable adults, most convictions can be considered "spent". Therefore applicants to these courses will be asked to disclose information about any criminal conviction, including spent sentences, cautions and bind-over orders. There are some exceptions to this rule and these are covered below in the DBS filtering of convictions and cautions guidance.

Disclosures through the Disclosure and Barring Service
  • In the case of programmes of study where a DBS Disclosure forms part of the admissions process, the course literature will make clear reference to this requirement. In the case of programmes of study where a DBS Disclosure may be required for a future optional placement, this requirement will also be clearly stated in the course literature, however, the Disclosure will be requested prior to the placement.

  • Where a Disclosure forms part of the admissions process, we encourage all applicants to provide details of their criminal record at an early stage in the application process. This information should be sent under separate, confidential cover to the appropriate Admissions Manager in the Admissions Service.

  • The University undertakes to discuss any relevant matter revealed in a Disclosure with the applicant, and we aim to ask questions relating to the Disclosure information, which are relevant, non-discriminatory and fair.

  • Applicants who are deemed unsuitable to undertake a programme of study in the light of the contents of a Disclosure will receive a written explanation as to the University's decision.

  • Failure to reveal information that is directly relevant to the position sought could subsequently lead to the University rejecting an application or the withdrawal of an offer or a place. The University undertakes to discuss any matter revealed in a Disclosure with the applicant before withdrawing an offer of a place on a programme of study.

  • Applicants who are not able to provide a Disclosure before the commencement of the course may be allowed to register provisionally for a limited period of time.

  • Disclosure information will only be seen by those who need to see it as part of the admissions process, and this information will be treated confidentially, sensitively and in accordance with the University's Guidelines for Staff Dealing with Personal Data and the Data Protection Act 1998.

  • The University informs those who are involved in the recruitment of students of the need to comply with the relevant legislation relating to the recruitment of ex-offenders, for example the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, and of the need to comply with the relevant University policies and procedures.

Having a criminal record will not necessarily prevent you from studying at the University of Sheffield. This will depend on the nature of the course you are applying for and the circumstances and background of your offences.

DBS filtering of convictions and cautions

Legislation that came into effect on 29 May 2013 allows for some old or minor convictions and cautions to be exempt from disclosure under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (as amended). This means that under the new filtering rules, applicants will no longer need to declare certain old and minor convictions or cautions and the University cannot take these into account in their decisions, even though the applicant may be carrying out what the DBS calls "Regulated Activity".

All cautions and convictions for serious violent and sexual offences as well as a list of other specific offences will still be subject to disclosure for courses where the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults is involved. All convictions where a custodial sentence has been given also remain subject to disclosure.

We recognise that this is a complex area of legislation so have provided the following guidance to help explain the new DBS Filtering legislation in more detail.

I have a caution. Do I need to declare this and will it be filtered?

If you were 18 or over at the time of the offence and it is your only offence, you did not receive a custodial sentence for the offence and it is 6 years or more since the date of the caution, then you do not need to declare the caution. It will be filtered by the DBS and will not appear on your certificate.

The exception to this is where the offence appears on the list of offences which must always be declared and will never be removed from a DBS certificate.

If you were under 18 at the time of the caution the same rules apply as for adult cautions, except that the elapsed time period is 2 years and not 6.

I have more than one caution. Do I need to declare these and will they be filtered?

Your certificate will only have a caution filtered and removed if it is your only offence. If you have received more than one conviction, caution or combination of the two, then you will need to declare all of these.

I have a conviction. Do I need to declare this and will it be filtered?

If you were 18 or over at the time of the offence and it is your only offence, you did not receive a custodial sentence for the offence and it is 11 years or more since the date of conviction, then you do not need to declare the conviction. It will be filtered by the DBS and will not appear on your certificate.

The exception to this is where the offence appears on the list of offences on gov.uk which must always be declared and will never be removed from a DBS certificate.

If you were under 18 at the time of the offence the same rules apply as for adult convictions, except that the elapsed time period is 5.5 years and not 11.

I have more than one conviction. Do I need to declare these and will they be filtered?

Your certificate will only have a conviction filtered and removed if it is your only offence. If you have received more than one conviction, caution or combination of the two, then you will need to declare all of these.

I have an old conviction which resulted in a custodial sentence. Do I need to declare this and will it be filtered?

Your certificate will only have a conviction filtered and removed if it is your only offence and you did not receive a custodial sentence for it. If you have received a custodial sentence (whether served or not), even if this was a number of years ago and/or your only offence, you will still need to declare this and it will not be filtered or removed from your certificate.

Where can I find a list of offences that will never be filtered?

There are over 1,000 offences that will never be filtered. A full list of these offences can be found on the DBS webpages:

DBS list of non-filtered offences - gov.uk

How can I find further guidance?

You can find further information on the DBS filtering web pages on gov.uk or you can contact your academic department for further help and advice.

How to apply for a DBS Disclosure

Procedure for applying for a DBS Disclosure

  1. Applicants holding offers of places on courses requiring DBS Enhanced Disclosure are emailed by the academic department with instructions how to apply. The Disclosure application should not normally be submitted to the DBS earlier than three months prior to the start of the course, therefore deferred applicants required to provide a DBS Enhanced Disclosure will not normally be sent a form until a few months before their course begins.

  2. Applicants should follow the instructions in the email, submit their application online and provide the required documents for ID checking. Please note that you may not be able to proceed with your studies if you are not able to present the necessary documents when requested.

  3. A member of University staff meets the applicant, confirms their identity with documentation provided by the applicant and notes the relevant information in the disclosure application. You can find a list of the documents we can accept as confirmation of identity on our webpages. Further guidance on identity checking is provided on the DBS website.

  4. Payment arrangements for DBS checks vary between departments. Your department will inform you of their payment arrangements, if applicable.

  5. The DBS posts copies of the completed Disclosure to the applicant and informs the University whether the check is clear or requires further action.

  6. If no issues arise and there are no other conditions attached to the offer of a study place, an Unconditional offer can be made (alternatively some departments may make an Unconditional offer subject to a satisfactory DBS Disclosure).

Overseas procedures

If you are an International applicant/student, or have been out of the United Kingdom for more than three consecutive months in the previous five years, the following table contains some examples of the criminal record histories that may be required from you.

Many countries have provided the DBS with details of how to apply for certificates of good conduct and/or criminal records checks, and these can be found on the DBS webpages.

However we advise applicants to confirm with the relevant embassy the process which applies to the country they have been resident in.

For specific courses, for example speech science or teacher training, there may be other overriding regulations that require students to have a DBS Disclosure/Certificate of Good Conduct for all periods over the five years.

 

Residence for last 5 years: DBS requirement:
In UK DBS Disclosure
In UK except for period of 3 consecutive months abroad
  • DBS Disclosure

  • Certificate of Good Conduct/Check from relevant local police station

Abroad Certificate of Good Conduct/Check from relevant local police station wherever resident for over three months
Abroad and then resident in UK for less than 3 months Certificate of Good Conduct/Check from relevant local police station wherever resident for over three months
Abroad and then resident in UK for more than 3 consecutive months
  • DBS Disclosure

  • Certificate of Good Conduct/Check from relevant local police station wherever resident for over three months

Abroad for last 5 years, but prior to this was resident in the UK
  • DBS Disclosure

  • Certificate of Good Conduct/Check from relevant local police station wherever resident for over three months

 

Valid identity documents

The following documents are accepted as confirming your identity. You will normally need to provide three documents:

  • one from Group 1

  • two from Groups 1, 2a or 2b, one of which must include your current address.

If you have any problems producing documents to confirm your identity, please contact your academic department.

Group 1: Primary identity credentials
  • Current valid passport

  • Biometric Residence Permit (UK)

  • Current driving licence photocard, full or provisional (UK, Isle of Man, Channel Islands and EEA)

  • Birth certificate (UK, Isle of Man and Channel Islands), issued within 12 months of birth

  • Adoption Certificate (UK and Channel Islands)

Group 2a: Trusted government documents
  • Current driving licence photocard, full or provisional  (All countries outside the EEA)

  • Current driving licence, full or provisional - paper version if issued before 1998 (UK, Isle of Man, Channel Islands and EEA)

  • Birth certificate - issued more than 12 months after time of birth (UK and Channel Islands)

  • Marriage/civil partnership certificate (UK and Channel Islands)

  • Immigration document, visa or work permit issued by a country outside the EEA. Valid only for roles whereby the applicant is living and working outside of the UK.  Visa/permit must relate to the non EEA country in which the role is based

  • HM Forces ID card (UK)

  • Firearms Licence (UK, Isle of Man and Channel Islands)

Group 2b: Financial and social history documents
  • Mortgage statement issued in last 12 months (UK or EEA)

  • Bank/building society statement issued in last 3 months (UK and Channel Islands or EEA)

  • Bank/building society statement issued in last 3 months (Countries outside EEA - branch must be in the country where the applicant lives and works)

  • Bank/building society account opening confirmation letter issued in last 3 months (UK)

  • Credit card statement (UK or EEA) issued in last 3 months

  • Financial statement, for example pension or endowment (UK) issued in last 12 months

  • P45/P60 statement (UK and Channel Islands) issued in last 12 months

  • Council Tax statement (UK and Channel Islands) issued in last 12 months

  • Letter of sponsorship from future employment provider (non-UK/non-EEA only – valid only for applicants residing outside of the UK at time of application)

  • Utility bill (UK) (mobile telephone bill not acceptable) issued in last 3 months

  • Benefit statement, for example Child Benefit, Pension issued in last 3  months

  • A document from central/local government, governement agency or local council giving entitlement, for example from the Department for Work and Pensions, the Employment Service, HM Revenue and Customs (UK and Channel Islands) issued in last 3 months

  • Valid EU National ID Card.

  • Valid Cards carrying the PASS accreditation logo (UK, Isle of Man and Channel Islands)

  • Letter from head teacher or college principal - UK for 16 to 19 year olds in full time education - only used in exceptional circumstances if other documents cannot be provided

Further information

You can find more information about DBS Disclosures on the UK government web pages:

DBS homepage

DBS Code of Practice

Courses that require a DBS Disclosure for admission or placement purposes will have a member of academic staff responsible known as a DBS Countersignatory. If you have any queries regarding DBS procedures please contact the DBS Countersignatory in the relevant academic department.

List of academic departments