Changes to DBS Checks

The government revealed last year that changes would be introduced to the way organisations can obtain a basic disclosure. These are set to come into force in January 2018

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) was formed in 2012 to support organisations with making safe recruitment decisions. The service undertakes an estimated four million criminal record checks a year to disclose information about an applicant’s convictions and other relevant information. The DBS is also responsible for maintaining a list of more than 57,000 individuals who are barred from undertaking ‘regulated activity’ with children and/or adults.

The DBS produces three levels of disclosure certificates: a basic disclosure; standard disclosure; and enhanced disclosure. Whilst standard and enhanced disclosures are required for certain sectors and roles, a basic disclosure can be requested by any organisation as a method of assessing the suitability of the job candidate.

Although individuals have been able to apply for a basic disclosure certificate through the DBS since 2014, in practice, basic disclosure applications in England, Wales and Scotland are made through Disclosure Scotland. A basic check is then run through the Police National Computer and a basic certificate is produced. This certificate will contain any details of unspent convictions and conditional cautions under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. Once received, the organisation can determine whether the applicant is suitable for the role or not.

In January 2018, the DBS will take over the basic disclosure service and applicants in England and Wales will have to apply directly to the DBS for a basic certificate. Disclosure Scotland have announced they will cease dealing with any requests from 17 January 2018, unless the applicant lives in Scotland.

To allow a smooth transition, the DBS will be producing a new online application form for basic disclosure certificates. Applicants will also be able to track the progress of their basic check and raise any queries online. Organisations will still be able to use a Responsible Organisation to apply for basic checks on their behalf.

The DBS is also planning to make the DBS Update Service available to basic check applicants. The online Update Service allows individuals to subscribe online and, in effect, carry their DBS check with them when they move organisations. The recruiting organisation simply needs to carry out an online check, for free, to see whether new information has come to light on the individual since their original check.

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