Since the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) were merged in 2012 to create the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), the CRB check technically no longer exists. DBS checks – the system that replaced CRB – is essentially the same operation, and differs almost entirely in name only.
Set up as a result of a number of incidents in which vulnerable members of society were exploited by people in relative positions of power, the CRB check allowed employers to look into the criminal past of an applicant in order to judge their suitability for the role. Typically, CRB checks were required for anyone looking to take up a position working with children or in healthcare – both industries that had suffered controversy due to unsuitable employees doing damage in the past. For the same reasons, those looking to foster or adopt were also required to undergo a CRB check.
CRB checks were only ever run as a result of a request from an employer, and this was only ever applicable for companies working within certain specific industries – this is one aspect that has been more tightly regulated with the move to DBS checks. The public can, however, request ‘basic disclosure’ on themselves, which gives a brief overview of what employers will see following a DBS check.
Although the service was run from a government database, CRB checks were generally provided by a third party, and – due to the sensitive nature of the details enclosed – required multiple forms of proof of identity in order to be ordered.