The DBS check system for looking into the criminal records of people who are applying for specific jobs is nothing new. Before the Disclosure and Barring Service took over responsibility for the service in England and Wales, applicants made a CRB application instead. It all means in essence the same thing – looking into an applicant’s past and making sure there are no serious issues which would put into question their ability to do the job. For as long as the system has been around, there have been people having problems with getting their checks completed. Sometimes, this is down to backlogs and delays in the system. However, many of the delays are down to human error. Mistakes which we make completing the form or providing our documents can cause big hold-ups in the certificate arriving, and in the worst-case scenario, can mean your application is rejected outright.
Perhaps the most common mistake on DBS forms is not understanding what is being asked for in terms of your address history. The Disclosure and Barring Service want to know where you have been living for the last five years. If you’ve not moved during that time then it’s easy, just fill in your full address including the postcode, and move on to the next section. But if you’ve moved around a lot, then it’s not always as straightforward.
Students for example, who move between their parents’ house and term-time accommodation, should give all addresses, and list the months and years they moved between each. People who have left the UK for a period of extended travel overseas should account for that on the form too. If you’ve moved around a lot, then you might have to list multiple addresses. Use the continuation sheet provided rather and get clarification from the Disclosure and Barring Service’s helpline if you are unsure about what to write in each box. If you get the information in the address box wrong, the DBS will just reject the application outright, so you’d have to start the process from the beginning and pay any application fee again too.
Everyone should know what their name is, right? That’s true for most people certainly, but on your DBS form you must list every name you’ve ever used. This could include surname changes because you’ve got married, or divorced, but includes other situations too. Many people use their middle names in everyday life or use a shortened form. If you’re officially Benjamin but use Ben on your driving licence or bank account, then you should give both names on the form. It might seem obvious to you that Ben White is the same person as Benjamin White, but the DBS can’t make assumptions. If you are completing a paper form, take care to write clearly and neatly, and check you have the correct names in the surname and given names boxes. Again, check with the helpline if you’re at all confused about what you should write and where.
Identity Document Errors
This category is less error, and more misunderstanding what is being asked for. In order to establish the correct person to run the police checks on, the DBS asks applicants to provide a range of key pieces of ID such as your driving licence, passport, utility bills and bank statements. Most applicants manage to cobble together the right combination of pieces of information from the extensive list provided. But many misunderstand the rules about the format in which the documents should be provided. Documents should be originals only – no photocopies, images on your phone or downloads from the internet. This might mean having to contact the bank or your electricity provider and asking for originals to be sent out in the post.
The other issue which catches people out with documentation is that everything provided has to be recent. Recent according to the DBS means dated within the last three months for paperwork such as utility bills and bank statements, or the most recent issued for something which you get annually, like a P60 or Council Tax statement. Anything older than this can’t be used to verify your identity, and you’ll have to request a more recent document.
These are just the most common issues which could delay your police check, or have it rejected outright. There are lots of other potential pitfalls too, and as everyone’s situation is different, it’s impossible to point out absolutely every error which might occur. Always seek advice from your employer if you’re unsure about what to fill in, and if they can’t help, contact the DBS by phone or email to get a definitive answer to your query. The worst thing you can do is to guess – if you get it wrong, your certificate could be substantially delayed.