Lockdown brought many aspects of our everyday lives to a grinding halt. Now that things are gradually getting back to normal, departments around the UK are working to clear months of backlog. There have been particular issues at the passport office and DVLA, with people waiting months for a passport renewal or new driving licence. Although the DBS worked throughout the pandemic, mostly prioritising applications from people working in the NHS and social care, they have experienced delays also. This could affect anyone who thinks they may need a new DBS check in the near future.
DBS Certificates and Expiry
Unlike passports, DBS certificates don’t expire, and don’t have a date written on them for the next renewal. This is because a DBS certificate just reflects what is on someone’s record at one given point in time. Any crime committed a few weeks after the certificate is printed can’t be added in retrospect. It’s up to individual employers and organisations to develop their own policies around how often DBS checks should be renewed. There are no legal requirements around re-doing DBS checks after a set period of time, so if your employer’s policy sets three years as the renewal period and that date has passed, you are not breaking the law – and neither are they. Many employers have extended their period for renewal to take into account the current situation.
Renewing DBS Checks
If your employer has asked you to renew your DBS check, then they will usually be able to guide you through the application process. There are no shortcuts when applying for a renewal of an existing DBS certificate. The application form is the same as for a brand-new application, and you’ll still have to prove your identity using a combination of basic identity documents and financial documents like utility bills. However, as you’ve been through the process before, you should be more aware of the potential pitfalls and know how to complete the form without making any errors. Don’t be too complacent though; the form has changed over the years and you can’t assume that the wording will be exactly the same as it was before.
Your employer should also help to guide you through the application process and provide help with anything you are finding tricky. The DBS itself also has a telephone helpline and you can email them to get answers to a specific problem you may have. Checks are taking longer at present, not because the DBS is working at a restricted capacity, but because all applications from the NHS are still being prioritised through the system.
Another option is to sign up for the DBS Update system which offers a different way to access your DBS information. If you are only renewing a DBS every two or more years, it’s probably not worth the money. But if you are changing jobs regularly or have more than one position which needs a DBS check, it means you can access your information right away through a database rather than making a fresh application.