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Police checks and clearance forms


There is a scheme for anyone requiring a visa (residential, working or tourist) or wishing to emigrate to one of the following Countries:

  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Cayman Islands
  • New Zealand
  • South Africa
  • United States Of America

If this affects you, you will require a form called a Police Certificate which can be obtained from ACRO, please see link in the related information.

For other countries

The police can make checks of what is held on their systems about individuals, it is known as a subject access request and is not a criminal records check. The police will provide you with a certificate stating that there is either no information held about you on the police systems or it will detail any convictions.

To obtain a subject access request form, contact your local police force.

Subject access checks have to be completed within 1 month of the request being received. Although the police will consider every request, they are under no obligation to provide all of the data and there are exceptions to providing data e.g. if it is likely to jeopardise an investigation.

The name of the form and procedure may vary slightly from force to force. If you have further questions about submitting the application, contact the relevant police force.


The Freedom of Information Act 2000 allows persons to apply for, and obtain, such information.

You should contact the Freedom of Information (FoI) department at the relevant police force(s) for which your relative worked. Most forces now have the facility by which you can make your request online via the force website. (This can usually be found on the homepage under a title similar to, Freedom of Information, FoI or requesting information etc...). Alternatively, if you wish to make your request by post, you should address it the relevant force and make it for the attention of the Freedom of Information Officer. Your request should provide the following details so that the officer may consider whether the information can be disclosed:

  • Your name and address
  • Your relation to the individual whose record you seek
  • The reason you wish to have this information

Please note, as the FoI request concerns an individual, confidential information will be withheld. Medical reports and disciplinary reports, if there are any, are exempt from disclosure.

FoI requests, such as this, must be completed within 20 working days for which there is no charge.


A Community Resolution is a method of restorative justice and is an alternative way of dealing with less serious crimes and incidents, allowing officers to use their professional judgement when dealing with offenders. It can be used for offences such as low-level public order, criminal damage, theft, and minor assaults, where the victim has agreed that they do not want the police to take formal action.

The use of Community Resolution will enable victims to have quick resolutions and closure to their crime, offenders will receive speedy justice and there will be reduced bureaucracy for police officers. Examples of a Community resolution could include a simple apology, an offer of compensation or a promise to clear up any graffiti or criminal damage.

Community Resolutions do not constitute a criminal record and are not currently recorded on the Police National Computer. They are however recorded locally on police information systems and can be accessed for intelligence purposes. A previous Community Resolution will be taken into consideration if further offences are committed.

Community Resolutions are not disclosed as part of a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) standard check. They might, however, be disclosed as part of an enhanced check for certain offences in the 'relevant information' section, i.e. the offence has a bearing on the kind of work you are applying for.


If you paid the fine without challenging it, this would not be classed as either a conviction or a caution. If you refused to pay the fine or challenged the Fixed Penalty Notice and, as a consequence of refusing to pay / challenging it, had to attend court and were found guilty, this would be classed as a conviction.


The Data Protection Act 2018 provides that individuals have a 'right of access' to 'personal data' that any organisation holds about them. Information that the police hold about you on their local and national systems is personal data and you are entitled to ask for a copy of this information to check that it is correct – a process that is commonly known as 'making a subject access request'.

Information held about you on local policing systems

You can request this information directly from your local police. Most forces have their own application forms that will help you understand what details you need to provide so they can find the information you would like. These forms can be helpful, although you don't have to make your request using these, you can ring, email or write in, whichever you choose. Please see the link to the ICO website in Related Information. This provides details of the information you will need to include when you make your request:

ICO Website

You will receive a response to your request within one month of sending it. There is no charge for this service.

Although the police will consider every request, they are under no obligation to provide all of the data and there are exceptions to providing data e.g. if it is likely to jeopardise an investigation.

Information that is held about you on national policing systems, for example on the Police National Computer

If you would like to obtain a copy of the information that the police hold about you, on their national systems, to check that it is correct, then you will need to make your request to ACRO. Please see Related Information to a link that you can you use to make your request:

ACRO - Subject Access

ACRO will provide you with a certificate. This certificate will either:

· state there is no information held about you on the police national computer; or

· it will list the details of convictions whether they are spent or not (see Q), intelligence matters including not guilty verdicts, cautions reprimands, final warnings, no further action decisions and fixed penalty notices for disorder.

Such certificates are NOT acceptable for employment vetting. If an employer or course administrator insists that you get this information via this check in order to show him/her the results for employment vetting, then he/she commits an offence. The correct process for obtaining a copy of your convictions or cautions for pre-employment vetting purposes is to contact the Disclosure and Barring Service or Disclosure Scotland. See Q624 for information on this.

If you need a check of your criminal records for immigration/emigration purposes, please see Q542.


A spent conviction is a conviction which, under the terms of Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, can be effectively ignored after a specified amount of time. The amount of time for rehabilitation depends on the sentence imposed, not on the offence. The more serious the conviction, the longer the period of rehabilitation. For example, if you have received a prison sentence of more than four years, the conviction will never become spent, but cautions become spent immediately (apart from conditional cautions which will become spent after three months).

The Act aims to rehabilitate offenders by not making their past mistakes affect the rest of their lives if they have been on the right side of the law for some time. For details of the length of time before a conviction becomes spent, see the NACRO website in Related Information.

Unless applying for particular types of work (see below), a person who has spent convictions and cautions does not have to disclose them to prospective employers. Employers cannot refuse to employ someone with spent convictions.

However, when applying to work in certain types of employment, for example, working with children or vulnerable adults, certain professions such as law, health care, and pharmacy, senior management posts within certain sectors and employment where matters of national security are involved, the application form will state that it is exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. In these situations, you will need to disclose all your cautions and convictions, and they may be disclosed on your DBS criminal records check.

Where a post is exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, the law protects people from having some old and/or minor convictions and cautions disclosed to employers but sexual and violent offences will always be disclosed, as well as any convictions that resulted in a custodial sentence, and all convictions if a person has more than one conviction. Regarding any other convictions and cautions: convictions are not shown after eleven years (in relation to persons 18 or over) or five and a half years (in relation to persons under 18), and cautions are not shown after six years (in relation to persons 18 or over) or two years (in relation to persons under 18). In order to determine whether your caution/conviction needs to be disclosed and whether it will show on a DBS check, see the flow chart below:

Spent Conviction Flow Chart

Please be aware that the information that police forces disclose may differ from the above and particularly in relation to enhanced disclosures, any information that the Chief Constable feels relevant with regards to the reason for the check, can be disclosed.


Contact your local police force

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