Disclosure and Barring Service

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) recently published a performance update regarding the turnaround times for criminal record checks within England and Wales.

Their current average time taken to process all applications is:

Enhanced Criminal Record Disclosure – 12 days

Standard Criminal Record Disclosure – 1.5 days

Basic Criminal Record Disclosure – 1 day

They state that the main reason for delay will be if an application needs to be referred to a police service. They go on to say that although the police force performances remains strong, some forces are processing work outside the normal expected timescales.

So, why do checks go to the police?

For Enhanced criminal record checks, applications will be sent over to a police force if there’s a potential match against the names on the application form and police systems. This means that even if an candidate has always lived in one area of the country, their check can be sent to multiple police forces in other areas of the country; that holds details of a person with the same or similar names to the applicant.

Throughout the process, the police may need to gather information from other organisations. There are other instances where these checks may be delayed, when information provided on the application form is missing, unclear, or incorrect. When this happens, it will create a flag and the application will come back to DBS to clarify the information by contacting the employer, Registered Body or applicant. Also this will inevitably delay the DBS criminal record result.

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If there is a name match on the Police National Computer (PNC), or against the data held by a police force or law enforcement agency, the DBS will send the application to relevant body for review.

If there is no conflict, the police force or law enforcement agency will check for any information they hold that is relevant to the specific workforce type the applicant is applying to work in. For example, Child Workforce or Adult Workforce. If there is no information, the application is returned to DBS.

If an enforcement agency holds any applicant information, they will assess the information relevance to the workforce type. They will decide if it is relevant and if it should be disclosed on the DBS certificate.

It should be noted that any enforcement agency will still have to spend time reviewing the information before that decision can be taken on what information can be released on the DBS certificate. These checks can take time to complete, especially if there are several forces involved.