Pre-pandemic, turnaround times at the DBS checks were improving. The stories of lengthy waits and people losing out on jobs because of their certificates being stuck in the system appeared to be a thing of the past. However, the latest figures appear to show that delays are again becoming commonplace, and the blame is being placed at the door of homeworking.
Although the pandemic is to blame for the delays, there is a range of things going on which can affect processing times. Remote working is one factor; there are many studies which show that technical difficulties and having other people in the home make workers less productive. Another issue is Covid-related sickness, not just because a worker is ill themselves, but perhaps isolating without the right technology to work from home or caring for a sick child. Delay for DBS checks has also rocketed over the last twelve months, due to furlough and redundancies in many sectors of the economy, with workers looking for work elsewhere. Demand for a DBS certificate went up 20% compared with the previous year, with 5.67 million certificates issued to workers across England and Wales. Although separate bodies operate in Scotland and Northern Ireland, all indications point to similar delays in their systems.
As a consequence of these factors, the DBS missed targets for both basic and standard DBS checks in 2020-21. A basic DBS check should take one day to process in 80% of cases, but in recent months these checks have been taking three days. Standard checks should be completed in four days, and these are now taking six days on average.
The one anomaly in the statistics is for enhanced checks, where the DBS actually beat the target of 14 days, with an average processing time of 7.9 days. This is probably down to the policy decision taken at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic to fast-track any applications from the NHS and social care sectors through the system. Most of these positions require an enhanced disclosure, and if one class of disclosure is being processed more quickly, other levels of DBS certificates are going to take longer.
Speeding Up Your Check
If you are thinking of applying for a new job which might require a DBS check, then your prospective employer should be aware of the delays in the system and plan your application accordingly. Although you can’t pay extra to have your application fast-tracked, there is lots which you can do to make sure your application stands the best chance of being processed swiftly. Most DBS applications fail at the first hurdle because the applicant has misunderstood the questions or made a spelling error when completing the form. If you find it difficult to spot your own errors, then ask a trusted friend to check the form for errors before submission. If you’re still unsure, then check with the DBS helpline rather than trying to guess the correct responses.