What is a DBS check and how long do they take? A detailed guide to DBS checks
If you want to work with children or vulnerable adults then you must have a DBS check. This ensures that you have no criminal convictions that would make you a risk to others. DBS checks are one of the key elements of safeguarding in places such as schools, care homes or hospitals. There are other professions you may not be aware of that require DBS checks too.
This article will give some helpful tips and advice when applying for your first check,
What Is A DBS Check?
DBS checks are often overlooked when applying for a new job role, yet they are essential for many professions in the UK. They were previously known as CRB checks until 2012 and although they are the same, the new checks are more thorough. They allow employers to protect vulnerable people and are background checks done by both the national and local police forces.
Even if an individual has criminal charges, that doesn’t automatically mean that they’re unable to work in jobs requiring a DBS check. However, anyone with serious charges, such as sex offenders, will not be able to be employed in those roles.
History of CRB and DBS
CRB checks were introduced by the Home Office in 2002 and designed to protect children and vulnerable adults from coming into contact with anyone who may be a risk to them. All checks were processed manually until 2010 when the CRB went online, this also reduced the time it took to process applications.
After the high profile murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman by Ian Huntley in 2002, there was an investigation into how he was able to work in schools. Ian Huntley had previous criminal convictions including ones for rape and indecent assault but he’d been vetted under the name Ian Nixon so these crimes weren’t picked up. Following the investigation, there were extra measures put in place so that each applicant would also have background checks carried out by the local police force too.
In 2012 the DRB and the Independent Safeguarding Authority merged to form the Disclosure and Barring Service; this meant that the vetting process became more streamlined and efficient. DBS checks are now widely used to screen job candidates and it’s believed that they’ve prevented many unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups.
Types of DBS Checks
There are three levels of DBS checks, the one you need will depend on your job and the individual requirements of that role. The three levels are basic, standard and enhanced.
A basic DBS check can be requested by both individuals and employers. They’re often used by employers who want to run a background check on an individual who doesn’t need a more comprehensive one.
Basic DBS checks show an individual’s criminal history and recent or serious unspent convictions, however, it doesn’t show any spent convictions.
If you’re volunteering in a school infrequently (less than once a week, less than four days in a 30 day period and not overnight) and are not providing healthcare or assistance to sick or disabled children, then you will probably be asked to apply for a basic DBS check.
Standard DBS Checks
A standard DBS check is a more in-depth check, detailing spent and unspent convictions, cautions, warnings or reprimands on the applicant’s record. To apply for one, the applicant’s job title must be included in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. These include accountants, court or prison workers and veterinary surgeons.
Enhanced DBS Checks
This level of check is specifically for anyone working with vulnerable adults and children, as well as in other roles listed in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and the Police Act 1997. These are roles that typically involve lone-working with vulnerable groups.
Employers can also ask for a barred list check which shows whether a potential or current employee is listed on the Children’s Barred List or Adult First list. These are lists of individuals who are not permitted to work with vulnerable groups.
How Long Does A DBS Check Take?
There isn’t a set time frame for DBS checks to be processed, there may be multiple addresses to check or the person has had multiple names for example The average time for applications is 4-8 weeks.
DBS checks can be requested either by using paper applications or online. It does take longer to apply using a paper application due to delays in the post and also any queries must be returned by post too.
There are various reasons why DBS checks are delayed, these can include –
- Errors on the application form – Always check that the information you provide such as names and addresses are correct
- Countersignature Is Incorrect – to avoid any problems it is always best to use a DBS registered body as the countersignature on the application
- Multiple addresses – if an individual has moved home multiple times then it may take time to complete the local police force checks
All DBS Checks Go Through Five Stages
- An application form is received and validated by the DBS authority
- Police National Computer (PNC) is searched
- A search of the adult’s and children’s barred lists
- A search of the records held by the police
- DBS certificate is printed
Due to the many stages involved, there can be delays, especially if a more in depth check is required. These are often during stage four as there might be multiple local police forces undertaking checks. If an individual has moved around a lot within the last five years, then their application will be dealt with by different local police forces.
DBS checks are meant to take an average of 8 weeks to process and no longer than 60 days. However, 51.9% of cases aren’t dealt with until 61 days and the average is 107 days.
To avoid these lengthy delays. it’s best to use a trusted DBS service rather than applying by yourself. Their expert knowledge and experience means that they can avoid some of the problems that cause unnecessary delays and your applications can be processed more quickly.
Who Needs A DBS Check?
We often think it’s only professions such as doctors, teachers and nurses who require DBS checks but there are others you may not be familiar with.
These include –
- Scrap metal dealers
- Chartered accountants – due to their high levels of responsibility and access to sensitive information
- Pest control – as they need to enter schools or nursing homes from time to time
- Traffic Wardens – this is because they are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, so they must undertake a standard DBS check.
- Locksmiths – those who are members of the Master Locksmiths Association must apply for a DBS check with the association. This is because locksmiths often have access to homes, schools or hospitals.
- Bar Supervisors – supervisors of licensed premises should have a personal licence to sell alcohol which includes a basic disclosure.
How Much Is A DBS Check?
The prices of DBS checks can change but from 6 April 2022, the current price for DBS checks are as follows –
- £18 for a standard check
- £38 for an enhanced check
- £38 for an enhanced with barred list check
The fee for the update service is £13 per year
Using a trusted DBS service means that the process is less stressful and your applications can be received quicker too. While there is a service fee included in these applications, the rates are very reasonable.
Who Should Pay For A DBS Check?
There is often a lot of discussion over who should pay for DBS checks, is it the employer’s or the employee’s responsibility?
Generally, it is the employer who covers the costs but they have no obligation to do so and often they’ll ask their employee to cover the cost themselves.
If an individual frequently changes jobs then they can use the DBS update service which will save them money in the long run. This is an annual cost of £13, it keeps the applications current and it means that they can be used multiple times.
If you’re applying for a voluntary role then it is paid for by the government.
DBS are now a standard part of many job applications and if you are applying for a job working with vulnerable groups you should be thinking about DBS checks.
There are other industries and job roles which require DBS checks so you should always ask your employer about the requirements for the job including who pays the fees and which DBS level is required.
Even though DBS checks can be confusing and often seem difficult to apply for, there are trusted services that can help take the stress out of the application process.
If you’d like to find out more about safeguarding or ask any other questions regarding DBS checks, then get in touch with one of our expert advisors today.