Criminal convictions and DBS checks

Having a criminal record is not necessarily a barrier to working at University of Bristol. This will depend on the nature of the role, the outcome of any Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, and the circumstances and background of the offences.

Disclosing Criminal Convictions

We ask all job applicants to disclose any unspent convictions as defined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, so we can assess if you can carry out the role applied for and join the University community.

Read GOV.UK guidance on telling a potential employer about a criminal record.

If you’re applying for a role which involves regulated activity or to a position which is listed in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (Exceptions) Order 1975 or the Police Act Regulations, we require disclosure of both spent and unspent convictions.

GOV.UK provide guidance on what counts as spent and unspent convictions.

If you are recruited and we later find out information that should have been disclosed during the application process, this will be dealt with as outlined in our procedure for how we respond to criminal convictions of current staff.

When a DBS check is required

We carry out DBS checks for new staff if it’s a requirement for the role. In these instances, any offer of employment is subject to the return of a satisfactory DBS check.

A DBS check carries no period of validity. Disclosures are for use immediately after issue at the point of recruitment for a specific role. If you are a new staff member and you require a DBS for your role, you won’t be able to enter campus until the check is complete. This may impact any start date agreed with your line manager.

Pre-employment DBS check procedure

If your role requires a DBS check, we will send you a link to our verification partner (Verifile) at the same time as we send your formal offer of employment. You must use this link to apply for a check. If your disclosure is satisfactory and contains no relevant spent/unspent convictions or records you will receive a letter confirming your appointment.

If the disclosure confirms details of spent/unspent convictions or records, we might contact you to discuss this further. We will make a decision on your suitability for the role as outlined in the procedure for recruiting staff with criminal convictions.

Transferring a DBS check from a previous employer

The University will accept portability of DBS checks from previous employers if both of the following apply:

If you are subscribed to the DBS Update Service, we’ll check there has been no change to your disclosure.

For new staff, your check must be in place before you start work.

For existing staff, your check must be in place before your start any project or new role that requires one.

Criminal record checks for new staff joining from non-UK countries

If you’ve never visited the UK, we'll require a criminal record check from your country of origin.

The process for this outside of the UK varies from country to country. You should apply for this in your home country or speak to your embassy in the UK if unsure. For more information visit Criminal records checks for overseas applicants - GOV.UK (

The University will reimburse any costs you incur for an overseas check.

If you have spent at least one month in the UK since turning 18 years of age, we will also request a DBS check through Verifile.

Applicant/employee rights

How we use and store DBS information

A copy of the DBS Code of Practice for Registered Persons and other Recipients of Disclosure Information and the University’s Policy Statement on the secure handling of DBS certificates provide information on how data is used and stored.

Transgender applicants

The University follows the DBS process for confidential checking for transgender applicants in accordance with the Gender Recognition Act 2004. However, if you are a transgender applicant, you can contact the government’s DBS sensitive applications team to confirm how to proceed if you don’t want to reveal details of your previous identity to a potential employer.

Criminal records and equality of opportunity

You can read about your rights around discrimination at work on GOV.UK. They explain that the law on equal opportunities aims to create a level playing field so that people are employed, paid, trained and promoted only because of their skills, abilities and how they do their job.