Basic Disclosure – know your agency

Published: Monday August 14, 2017

A blog by Mark Sugden, Director of Business Development at GBG on the upcoming changes at Disclosure Scotland in 2018 and how you can prepare. 

From 1 January 2018 Disclosure Scotland will no longer provide Basic Disclosure checks for customers in England and Wales. Customers in England and Wales will obtain their Basic Disclosure through DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service).

A Basic Disclosure is a criminal record check that reports on a person’s current convictions. It can be requested by individuals (or third parties with their explicit consent) and used for any purpose such as employment, online dating or registering to be a baby sitter.

A Basic Disclosure is compliant under Section 56 of the Data Protection Act. (Note - it is a criminal offence to require an individual to exercise their subject access rights to gain access to information about their convictions and cautions and provide that information to a person.)

The Basic Disclosure is the established lawful process for requesting a criminal record check for non-regulated posts. You can find the DBS eligibility guidance here

So what’s changing?

Disclosure Scotland has processed England and Wales Basic Disclosure checks under a delegation which will end on 1 January 2018. A temporary arrangement that has been in place over 14 years!

Employers checking candidates using the Basic Disclosure are required to ensure they process a criminal record check through the appropriate body – Disclosure Scotland or DBS.

This is because each organisation will be applying different rules on what is considered a spent conviction. A conviction is quicker-spent in England and Wales than it is in Scotland, Northern Ireland or the Channel Islands. Therefore if you obtain a Basic Disclosure in Scotland, for a job role in England, you might receive information you are not entitled to see. This can be considered a breach of the Data Protection Act 1998, and also the forthcoming GDPR, which could result in action being taken by the Information Commissioner (ICO) or the individuals themselves.

For example a Basic Disclosure check obtained in Scotland, would always reveal a conviction if there was a custodial sentence of 30 months or more. Whereas a custodial sentence of 30 – 48 months would be considered spent after 7 years, in England and Wales.

How to prepare?

Consider which roles in your organisation will be checked using Basic Disclosure.

Identify which roles will be based in England and Wales; and those in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Channel Islands.

Ensure the check is processed using the correct Government body to process the check.

How can GBG help?

GBG’s online criminal record check service can support organisations to process criminal record checks throughout Scotland, England and Wales. One system can manage all checks, and help your organisation remain compliant.

Find out more how GBG KnowYourPeople can help, get in touch at