Basic DBS checks: changes to application procedure

Employers should be aware that the application procedure for obtaining a basic disclosure is set to change in January 2018.

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) was formed in 2012 when the Criminal Records Bureau and the Independent Safeguarding Authority were merged in to one body. The DBS helps employers make safer recruitment decisions and allows assessment of the suitability of an applicant before they start employment. DBS undertakes around 4 million criminal record checks a year, disclosing information about an applicant’s convictions and other relevant information. They are also responsible for maintaining the barred list; a list of over 57,000 individuals who are barred from carrying out ‘regulated activity’ with children and/or adults. Disclosure Scotland provides the same service for Scottish applicants.

DBS produces three levels of disclosure certifications: a basic disclosure; standard disclosure; and enhanced disclosure. Standard and enhanced disclosures are required for job roles in certain sectors or where the role involves carrying out certain activities, whereas all employers can request a basic disclosure as a way of determining whether the candidate is the right fit for the role or not.

Since 2014, individuals have been able to apply for a basic disclosure through the DBS service. In practice, all basic disclosure applications in England, Wales and Scotland are made through Disclosure Scotland. Once the application was made, a basic check was ran through the Police National Computer which would reveal details of any unspent convictions under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

From 17th January 2018, Disclosure Scotland will not deal with any requests for a basic disclosure certificate unless the applicant lives in Scotland. Applicants in England and Wales will have to make future applications for a basic certificate directly to the DBS. Making the application to the correct service will avoid any delay in receiving the certificate, in turn reducing the length of the overall recruitment process.

In order to allow a smooth taking over of the service, the DBS has been busy hiring new staff and creating an online application form for basic disclosure certificates. As part of the online application process, applicants will be able to track the progression of their application and raise queries about their disclosure certificate online.

To aid employers further, the DBS is planning to make the DBS Update Service available to basic check applicants in the near future. The online Update Service is a useful tool for employers and applicants as it can help reduce the time taken to apply for, and receive, an up-to-date and accurate DBS certificate. Individuals subscribe to the service online and ‘carry’ their DBS check with them as they move between roles. When recruiting, the potential employer is only required to carry out a free online check to find out whether any new information has come to light since the original check on the individual.

Suggested Resources