What is a CRB Check?

A CRB check, or criminal records bureau check, is an essential part of the screening process for anyone whose job will involve working in a position of trust, care and/or authority to those most vulnerable or impressionable, such as children, the elderly and those with disabilities or learning disabilities. As potential trainee teachers, that includes you. The check is carried out by the Criminal Records Bureau, an agency of the Home Office that was founded subsequent to the Police Act of 1997. Before then, background checks on carers, teachers, and other such workers were not carried out as thoroughly or as often. The CRB checks aim to reduce the possibility of organisations employing people who are unsuitable, and likely to abuse their positions, gaining access to children and vulnerable adults, and to protect the people who need the support and care that schools and other institutions supply.

Who needs a CRB check and why?

Anyone whose job involves close interaction with children or vulnerable adults would require a CRB check. The checks are a necessary step in the appointment procedure as it gives employers the information to make an informed decision of a candidate’s suitability to working in a position of trust or responsibility. Examples of positions that would require a CRB check include:

  • Teachers
  • Classroom assistants
  • Dinner ladies
  • Social workers
  • Scout guides
  • Voluntary carers

What data is contained in a CRB check?

The Criminal Records Bureau holds all information pertaining to an applicant’s suitability for a working with children and vulnerable adults. There are two levels of CRB check – the Standard Disclosure and the Enhanced Disclosure.

Standard Disclosure

This is the basic CRB check that most applicants would undergo as part of the application process for one of the roles outlined above. It gives employers information about convictions, cautions, warnings and reprimands, both current and expired, as held in the police records. In addition, employers may search the Protection of Children Act or Protection of Vulnerable Adults Act lists, and information that is held under Section 142 of the Education Act 2002, where appropriate.

Enhanced Disclosure

This is a higher level check, generally carried out where a job involves a greater degree of caring, training, and/or sole supervision of children or vulnerable adults. It provides the same information as the Standard Disclosure, but contains any other information held on local police records that could be useful in ascertaining whether someone is suitable for the job they have applied for.

When to apply for a CRB check

Those of you looking for a career in teaching will need to undertake a CRB check before you can begin your teacher training courses – this is because, even at this early stage, you will be involved in day to day supervision of school children in the age category you wish you train for. The institution you are applying to will inform you of when to do this. This will usually be once an offer to enrol on a training course has been accepted. CRB checks require a processing fee, which currently stands at £26.00 for Standard and £36.00 for Enhanced; though they are free to those applying to volunteer organisations. Once the check has been processed, a copy of the results will be delivered to both yourself, and the employer.

How to apply for a CRB check

Obtaining a CRB check is actually remarkably simply. There are two ways to apply for a CRB check once you’ve been asked to provide one: the first is to complete a paper application form - this should be provided by your potential employer or institution when you are asked to carry out a check, and should be accompanied by help on how to complete the form. The form will need to be returned, with requested identification documents (such as driving license, birth certificate, etc) to the institution that asked for the check. The second is to call the Disclosure Application line directly on 0870 90 90 844, where you will need to provide the name and number of the body that has requested the check. It should be noted that you cannot request a check simply out of interest.

A PDF document can be downloaded from the CRB website containing step by step information on how to complete the form here:

Useful links for further information

For more information on the CRB organisation’s role, the CRB check and the application process, visit the following website.

For more information on routes into teacher training, and the entry requirements for teacher training courses, you may find the following link useful:

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