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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

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 how long they're valid for.

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
  • will be working in certain activities with adults considered vulnerable at that particular time
  • 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)

The minimum age at which you can be asked to apply for a CRB check is 16 years old.

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

Types of criminal record check

Contact the CRB

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

There are two types of CRB check:

  • standard CRB check - for certain specified jobs, licences and entry into certain professions
  • enhanced CRB check - for those carrying out certain activities or working in regulated activity with children or adults; applicants for gaming and lottery licences; and judicial appointments

Your employer will decide the level of check needed.

What you'll find on a criminal record check

Standard CRB checks will contain details of all spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings from the Police National Computer (PNC).

The enhanced CRB check will include any information from the PNC and may also search:

  • information held by local police forces
  • lists of people barred from working with children and adults which are kept by the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA)

What is the Independent Safeguarding Authority?

The Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) is responsible for deciding who should be barred from working with children or adults, or both. It keeps two barring lists, the ISA Children's List and the ISA Adults List.

Who sees your criminal record check?

Any individual or organisation involved in the recruitment process may see your check.

When your application has been completed, the CRB will send a copy of the certificate to you. They will also send one to the person at the organisation that requested the check and countersigned your form.

Organisations using the CRB service must make sure that any information revealed about you is used fairly and kept securely. They will have a data policy that they can show you about how they handle your information.

How long does a CRB check last?

There is no official length of time that a CRB check is valid for. Any information revealed on the CRB certificate is what the police, or the ISA if applicable, held at the time the certificate was printed.

Will you ever need to have another criminal record check?

Some jobs may require you to have another check if you remain in the same position. Your employer will be responsible for letting you know.

You might have to have another CRB check if you move to another job that asks for a CRB check.

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

How to contact the Criminal Records Bureau

CRB helpline for all general enquiries: 0870 9090 811
8.00 am to 6.00 pm on weekdays
10.00 am to 5.00 pm on Saturday (closed Sunday and public holidays)

There is a separate number for transgender applicants only. Any general enquiries received on this number cannot be dealt with or transferred. This number also has an answerphone service where you can leave your name and contact number and a member of the team will call you back.

Transgender applicants tel: 0151 676 1452 or email:

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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