The war in Ukraine sparked a humanitarian response from across Europe, with thousands of people in the UK volunteering to host Ukrainian families fleeing the conflict. The government’s hastily arranged Homes for Ukraine scheme aimed to match people in the UK with those needing accommodation, but is it working in the way it was intended?
DBS Check Delays
From the outset, the government announced that anyone planning to host a family from Ukraine would need to apply for a criminal record check through the Disclosure and Barring Service, or the similar partner agencies which operate in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Asking all hosts to have a criminal check aimed to protect refugees from potential exploitation and risks of violence in their hosts’ home. The requirement for criminal record checking extends to all adults over the age of 18 living in the household, not just the person making the application.
Delays in the DBS checking process has resulted in refugees being placed with hosts whose DBS checks are yet to be completed. The process is being managed by local Councils rather than by central government, and this can lead to differing approaches depending on where in the country you live. DBS checks are completed by police forces around the UK, and their processing times can also vary dramatically. Historically, larger urban forces in Manchester, Birmingham or London have taken much longer to turn around DBS checks than smaller, rural forces.
Adult First Checks?
One way round this delay would be to use the Adult First system, as was done to get NHS staff into positions quickly during the Covid pandemic. Adult First is a preliminary search of the Barred Lists only, in an attempt to weed out the people whose previous convictions have resulted in a permanent ban from working with children or hosting families with children. However, as the name suggests, this option is only open positions involving working with adults, so wouldn’t cover families with children under the age of 18 who require accommodation. Adult First checks might therefore only be an option in a minority of cases.
Speeding Up DBS Checks
Although all of the DBS staff are working hard behind the scenes to keep any delays to a minimum, there are things that applicants can do to speed their application through the process. Many applications are delayed because of errors on the form, so taking care over completing it and making sure you fully understand what all of the questions are asking is key. If you are unsure what is being asked for, or how much information to include, always check rather than guessing. In some cases, applications which have had mistakes made on the address or name section will be rejected outright and you will have to start the application over again. Even something as simple as a typo on your date of birth can slow up the processing. So, if you’re not good at spotting mistakes, ask someone else to look over your form before hitting the submit button.