How Are DBS Checks Processed?
With the number of employers and organisations that request a DBS check before taking on new staff increasing, it’s good to know what the whole DBS check process actually involves.
In this article, we’ve pulled together all of our knowledge on DBS checks, including what goes on in the background during each processing stage of a DBS check..
So, without further ado, let’s dive in and learn everything there is to know about the DBS checking process.
The 6 Stages of A DBS Check
We have identified six stages that take place from start to finish of applying for and processing a DBS check (assuming it is applied for online through our DBS check platform).
Stage 1: Apply Online
The first stage involves the applicant filling in the online application form. Our form is a smart form, which means that it will check for common mistakes and missing boxes, and highlight them to the applicant to fill in. This prevents delays occurring due to mistakes or omissions on the form.
Basic DBS Checks can be submitted by anyone, including the applicant themselves, but Standard and Enhanced DBS Checks must be verified and submitted by the employer, or registered third party.
Once the applicant has filled in the form and submitted it via our online portal, we receive it, check the uploaded ID documents, and verify it with a countersignature. Payment is taken from the applicant to cover the administration fee. When the payment has cleared, we send the form on to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) for processing.
For Standard and Enhanced DBS Checks, the employer or organisation needs to complete their half of the application form to include details about the role in question and to countersign the document.
Stage 2: Application Validation
After the form is complete and the payment has been processed, the application is sent to the DBS who check it for mistakes or omissions. If all is OK, the DBS will scan the document (or upload it for online applications) to make it ready to begin the background check. If there are mistakes, the form will be sent back to the counter-signatory to check over it and rectify it.
Once they are happy to progress, the DBS automatically generates a Tracking Reference Number, which enables the applicant to check on the status of their DBS check application by going to the government “Track or view my DBS certificate” page.
It is worth noting that on 31st May 2021, the rules changed and the DBS are no longer allowed to amend personal information about applicants on the form. In other words, if something is omitted from the form, it cannot be added later and the application has to be started over from scratch.
Stage 3: Criminal Background Search
The next stage is the most crucial one. The DBS have access to the Police National Computer (PNC), which allows them to check people’s criminal backgrounds for any convictions that are held on file.
Critical information from the application form is cross-referenced with data from the PNC to see if a match can be found.
The PNC is a vast database and network that holds details on any individual with a criminal record and shares it across police forces, the judiciary, and the DBS. The PNC database contains a lot of data, including names, addresses, vehicle details, property details, type of offence, type of sentence, data of issue, etc.
But the information held on the PNC isn’t always fully revealed on a DBS check. It depends on the level of the check that has been requested.
Basic DBS Checks include information on unspent convictions and conditional cautions only. Standard and Enhanced DBS Checks reveal spent or unspent convictions, warnings, reprimands, and cautions. The Enhanced DBS Check goes one step further and reveals any police notes or information held on file that may be relevant to the role being applied for.
Stage 4: Search of Children and Adults Barred List (if applicable)
If the DBS Check application is an enhanced one, and is for a role that is defined as a “regulated activity”, then the DBS will carry out a check of the barred lists. There are two barred lists, one that contains details of individuals that are permanently banned from working with children and another that bans specific people from working with vulnerable adults. If a match is found, it is highlighted immediately to let the employer know that the person is not allowed to take up the role.
Stage 5: Search of Police Records (for Enhanced DBS Check only)
If the application is for an Enhanced DBS Check, the DBS will send the application form details out to all the police forces that cover the individual’s previous addresses, using a secure method to make sure that sensitive data is protected. The police forces check their files for relevant notes or intelligence on the individual and send it back to the DBS.
The information sent by the police to the DBS should only be relevant to the role. For example, if the job position involves working with children and there have been several allegations made against the individual, then this will be raised for further investigation.
Stage 6: DBS Certificate Printed and Posted
After all the criminal record searches and vetting has been completed, any relevant information that has been obtained is added to a certificate and printed out. A summary is also created as a PDF which can be downloaded from an online source and is also automatically emailed to the employer or organisation that submitted the DBS check.
The full DBS certificate is then posted out directly to the applicant with all the information clearly displayed on it. This concludes the DBS checking process.
Can You Speed Up The DBS Check Process?
The processing of the DBS Check is carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service, not us. We do the initial stages of verifying and submitting the application and handle the admin side of things, but we’re not involved in carrying out the actual criminal records searches.
This means that, unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do to speed up the process. Having said that, the DBS are usually pretty good at turning them around and usually complete the whole processing process within 48 hours of receiving the form. They realise how critical it is for employers to get quick results and get people working in the job role.
But, sometimes it can take a little or a lot longer than 48 hours. The lengthiest delays are caused by incorrect information on the form or a delay caused by getting information from local police forces. Occasionally, the DBS experiences a backlog of applications during busy times of the year or if a national crisis has occurred like the coronavirus pandemic.
If you haven’t received a result from your DBS check application within 60 days of submitting, then it needs to be escalated with the DBS, which we can do on your behalf. We can also follow up on the escalation every 10 working days to try and get things on-track.
Also, you can contact your local police force if you think it has got delayed there. Sometimes, if you talk to the right person, you can get the police to expedite your DBS check application.
Finally, if you have received the result via email, but haven’t received the DBS certificate within 10 working days, you can contact the DBS yourself to find out what has happened.
Apply Online Through Our Easy-to-use Platform
If you need a DBS check and want to improve the chance of the process going smoothly, the best way to apply is using our online service. We take care of all the checking, verification, and submission stages of the DBS check application, as well as chasing things up on your behalf if things go wrong.
Find out more about applying for DBS checks online by contacting us today.