Employers across Bristol and Somerset have recently complained that lengthy waiting periods associated with DBS checks are leading to significant delays in job commencements and creating bottlenecks in recruitment procedures. For roles involving interactions with children and vulnerable adults, usually in education, childcare or healthcare roles, an enhanced DBS check is a legal requirement before the candidate starts employment.
A local BBC radio station conducted interviews with local job seekers who have encountered waiting periods exceeding three months while their enhanced DBS checks have been stuck in processing. The delays appear to have been caused by a larger number of applications from people looking to move jobs or start a career in roles needing a DBS check. Avon and Somerset Police department reported a surge in DBS applications during the summer, resulting in notable delays in the processing timeline.
According to data from the Disclosure and Barring Service, during the period from April 2022 to March 2023, approximately 78.4% of enhanced checks were successfully concluded within 14 working days. That leaves around a quarter of all applications falling outside the target. As well as pressure on the system, delays can be caused by user error when completing the application forms or failing to provide the supporting evidence needed. Addressing the delays in the system, a spokesperson for Avon and Somerset police said that they were taking steps to allocate additional funds and people into the system to ensure that applications were processed as quickly as possible, and in lines with the national targets set by the government.
Employers around the Bristol and Somerset area have highlighted the issued which delays in the system cause for recruitment. One business owner, who runs a company offering transportation for adults and children with a disability, said that processing times have risen from around two weeks, to as much as three months for some employees. He added that some candidates who face these lengthy processing times just abandon the process and look for other job opportunities with different companies.
Advice for Job Applicants and Employers
Being aware that delays are sometimes experienced in the DBS processing system can help managers and candidates plan, perhaps starting the recruitment process earlier than they ordinarily would, or arranging training or alternative duties for employees in the period while they are waiting for a DBS check to be processed. Some responsibility must be taken by the candidate too, by taking steps to get their DBS form checked before submitting to catch any typos or obvious errors which could delay processing. Get advice if there are any fields on the application form which you are not sure about. Most delays are caused by one of two factors, either the applicant failing to give every name which they have ever used or failing to list all their residential addresses over the previous five years. Often, the DBS will reject incorrectly completed applications outright, causing delay before the check even gets to the police checking stage.