Historic convictions and their effect on your DBS application 

Written 23rd August 2023 by Nathalie Potter

Olliers’ Head of DBS Nathalie Potter considers how historic convictions can lead to a DBS Barring Investigation

At Olliers we speak to an increasing number of people who find that their historic convictions have been disclosed on a Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) Certificate and, as a result, they have found themselves the subject of a barring investigation having received a ‘Minded to Bar’ letter.

Specified offences

Examples of convictions relevant to safeguarding are known as ‘specified offences’ and can be any violent offences, sexual offences, offences of dishonesty such as fraud, intent to endanger life such as arson, offences against children such as neglect, cruelty or causing or inciting harm. 

Any conviction that has resulted in a custodial or suspended sentence will never be filtered from your DBS certificate. The DBS have a list which can be found here.

However, convictions with other outcomes such as fines and community sentences (if not deemed relevant to the position you are applying for) can be filtered after a period of 11 years for an adult and 5.5 years if you are under 18. 

Whilst you may never work in regulated activity directly, your historic conviction could have a significant impact upon your future ability to volunteer. We have many clients who have applied for voluntary positions to help out with their children’s extra-curricular activities, such as sports coaches, first aiders, brownie or scout leaders, gymnastics coaches or even volunteering within schools. An historic conviction wouldn’t necessarily prevent your working with either children or vulnerable adults in the future, but a barring certainly would.

Olliers Successful DBS Barring Cases 

We have made a number of successful representations to the DBS in relation to historic convictions of serious and/or sexual assaults where our clients were between the ages of 13 and 22 at the time of their conviction. In these cases, we were able to focus our arguments on a number of strong points: 

  • Our clients were in some instances significantly older (by as much as +50 to +60 years) at the time of their application to the DBS. 
  • As a result of their age they had more life experience and a better understanding of the law, societal expectation and accountability. We were able to demonstrate how the clients’ now have significantly more understanding and were much better equipped to manage their emotions and behaviour. 
  • Clients had removed themselves from problematic situations as a result of their apparent troubled upbringing or life circumstances. Some clients had very little or no positive role models and, as such, there was simply nobody to reinforce good behaviour. 

How can Olliers help if you receive a ‘Minded to Bar’ letter?

We were further able to assist clients in demonstrating their remorse and understanding of the impact their behaviour had upon their victims at the time. Clients, more often than not, now have children of their own and were able to reflect upon how their historic actions had consequences, not just upon the victims directly, but also potentially on their families and friends too. 

Whilst a conviction for an historic serious offence will, unfortunately, always be disclosed on a standard or enhanced DBS certificate, in almost all circumstances there is an argument to put to the DBS against a barring decision.

Contact our specialist DBS Team 

Please contact Nathalie Potter, our Head of DBS, to discuss further on 0161 834 1515 or nathaliepotter@olliers.com. 

Nathalie Potter

Head of Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) Department


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