If I’m acquitted will the alleged offence show on a DBS check?
An ordinary DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check reveals convictions and cautions. An enhanced check, required for many jobs, may reveal ('non-conviction') information held by the police such as intelligence, arrests, prosecutions and acquittals.
Surely an acquittal shouldn’t be on the check?
This was challenged in Court by “AR”, a qualified teacher, who had been working as a taxi driver when he was accused of rape.
His defence was that there had never been any sexual contact with the complainant, although she had been in his taxi. He was acquitted. When he applied for a job as a lecturer the enhanced check revealed the acquittal and the details of the allegation.
What did the Court say?
AR's appeal was unsuccessful.
The Court said that in certain circumstances such information could be included on enhanced checks and in “AR’s” case it was correct to do so.
The Court said “in principle, even acquittal by a criminal court following a full trial can be said to imply no more than the charge has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt. In principle, it leaves open the possibility that the allegation was true, and the risks associated with that.”
Who makes the decision?
In the first instance, the police decide whether the information should be included on an enhanced check (although in practice many matters are ‘filtered’ and removed automatically from consideration).
They can disclose non-conviction information that may identify a potential risk to the vulnerable; the test is based on relevance, truth/substantiation and proportionality.
It is not automatic, therefore, that an acquittal would be disclosed, as the circumstances of the acquittal need to be considered and consideration given as to whether the offender may have committed the alleged offence.
It is vital that if there is any positive evidence that the offender did not commit the offence, for example because the complainant admitted lying, that this is brought to the attention of the police.
A decision to include information on an enhanced check can have devastating effects on your livelihood. Such decisions can be objected to, and representations made to the police. If unsuccessful, this can also be appealed to the Information Governance Unit. If you would like to discuss any aspect of this article or your case, please contact me on 07766001774 or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).