ATP Template with bundler

Clearance forms & Police checks


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.


Whilst there is no mandatory requirement to apply for a standard or enhanced disclosure for a person playing Father Christmas, if the recruiter feels that they would prefer to carry out such checks then they will be eligible to apply.

If the Father Christmas is within a school then it is very likely that a check will be carried out by the local education authority.

Please see Q624 for more details on this kind of check.


The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is a Central Body which exists to allow employers (including educational establishments) who are registered with them to obtain checks on employees/students. If the employer is not registered then you can apply to Disclosure Scotland for a Basic Disclosure, see below for more information.

There are three types of checks that the DBS can currently do.

Standard disclosure - this shows current convictions, cautions and youth cautions held on the Police National Computer (PNC). It costs £23 for standard disclosure.

Enhanced disclosure - for posts involving a far greater degree of contact with children or vulnerable adults. It is the highest level of check for those responsible, caring for, training or supervising children or vulnerable adults. It contains the same information as a standard disclosure check but also includes relevant and proportionate information held by local police forces. It costs £40 for enhanced disclosure. See the website in Related Information for more details.

Enhanced disclosure with barred list checks - this can only be requested by an employer for specific roles and it is a criminal offence to ask for a check for any other roles. It is like the enhanced check, but includes a check of the DBS barred lists, and takes about 4 weeks. It costs £40.

See Q89 for details of exceptions to some convictions and cautions being disclosed.

The DBS aims to process 90% of Standard checks in 10 days and 90% of Enhanced checks in 4 weeks.

The DBS also offer a service where you can check the progress of the checks online.

If you want the check for pre-employment vetting purposes and you are not required to declare spent convictions then you can apply for basic disclosure through Disclosure Scotland. Although based in Scotland it is the sister organisation to the DBS and does criminal records checks for individuals from England and Wales as well as Scotland. The Basic Disclosure check provides individuals with a list of only unspent convictions that they should declare if the employer has no exemption to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, see website in Related Information.

If you want a check for emigration or visa purposes then please see Q542.


The USA have a visa waiver programme for any person holding passports from certain countries (United Kingdom passports are included) as long as that person has never been arrested and/or convicted.

If you have been arrested, you must declare it whether or not that arrest resulted in a conviction. The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 does not extend to the USA so you must declare all convictions regardless of whether they are classed as spent or not.

Most minor road traffic offences that were dealt with by way of fixed penalty (i.e. no arrest or court appearance) do not count and you will be eligible to travel under the visa waiver programme.

If you have been arrested/convicted, then you must apply for a visa from the US Embassy in London before you travel to the USA. Failure to have a visa means that you could be refused entry and returned home at your own expense. Have a look at the Visa Waiver Wizard (first link in Related Information) which only takes a minute to complete - it is just a guide for your own information, you do not have to enter personal details.

A conviction could mean that you are classed as permanently ineligible to travel to the USA, however, you may be able to apply for a waiver of permanent ineligibility from the Department of Homeland Security. This is not automatic and depends on several factors depending on the nature of the crime and when it was committed.

If you are unsure it is always better to check as you could be refused entry to the USA. In the current climate, it is highly likely that the USA authorities will be aware of your personal details before you travel to the USA.

Also, see the website in Related Information for more details.


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.


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.


The Data Protection Act 2018 provides that individuals have the 'right to rectification or erasure' of inaccurate or incomplete 'personal data' that is held by any organisation about them. If you become aware that the police hold personal data about you on their systems that is inaccurate, then you can make a request for them to rectify or erase the information. You can make your request by telephone, email or write to them. The police will then consider and action your request and respond within one month. They may ask you to provide documents to prove your identity. If so, the one month will start from the date they have confirmed your identity.


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.



The table below provides details of when a conviction will become spent. Please note that the sentence length includes any time spent on licence. Q89 provides further information on cautions and convictions.

Some convictions will never become spent and others don't require a rehabilitation period at all. Those that will never become spent include -

(a) a sentence of preventive detention;
(b) a sentence of detention during Her Majesty's pleasure or for life, a sentence of detention for a term exceeding thirty months;
(c) a sentence of custody for life; and
(d) a sentence of imprisonment for public protection.

Those that don't require a rehabilitation period (therefore the period of time until it becomes spent will be nil), include -

(a) an order discharging a person absolutely for an offence,
(b) any other sentence in respect of a conviction where the sentence is not dealt with in the table below.

Sentence   Rehabilitation Period  
    Adult (18+) at conviction / disposal Young person (under 18 ) at conviction/disposal
Prison (including suspended prison sentences) Over 4 years or a public protection sentence Never spent Never spent
  More than 30 months and less than (or equal to) 4 years Length of sentence + 7 years Length of sentence + 3 and a half years
  More than 6 months and less than (or equal to) 30 months Length of sentence + 4 years Length of sentence + 2 years
  Less than (or equal to) 6 months Length of sentence + 2 years Length of sentence + 18 months
Community order/youth rehabilitation order   Length of sentence + 1 year Length of sentence + 6 months
A compensation order   The date when the payment is made in full The date when the payment is made in full
A relevant order   The date provided as the last day on which the order is to have effect The date provided as the last day on which the order is to have effect
A fine   12 months 6 months
Removal from Her Majesty's service   12 months 6 months
Caution, reprimand or warning   None required None required
A sentence of service detention   12 months 6 months

Contact your local police force

Enter your town or postcode to see information from your local force

If you can't find the answer?

Submit A Question