Any time the DBS check system hits the headlines it’s usually because someone has been waiting weeks, if not months for their DBS check to come back. People can lose out on jobs and have their lives turned upside down by slow DBS checks. It all makes for good newspaper headlines. Even though most DBS checks are completed without delays and complication, the concern is understandable. Unlike other government services, there is no “fast track” service for disclosure checks, and no “check and send” at the Post Office to make sure you’ve got it right. There are however some tips and tricks which you can use to maximise your chances of speeding through the system.
Check, Check and Check Again
Many of the delays encountered at the Disclosure and Barring Service are down to user error – people filling in the application form incorrectly. The form isn’t as complex as something like your tax return. But there are fields which cause confusion, and if you make mistakes, you risk having your form returned to you. That means starting the process again from scratch and having to pay the fee again too. The two sections which catch most people out are:
- Previous Names – this means all previous names you have used, whether surnames, given names or nicknames. Similarly, if you are officially called something like Elizabeth but use Beth, then this should be declared too. Remember to list middle names and alternative spellings if you’ve used them.
- Address History – the DBS will require a list of all addresses where you have lived over the past 5 years, including postcodes. If you’ve moved around a lot, lived temporarily in student accommodation, been in the military or travelled for extended periods overseas, get further advice from the DBS about what to write in each box.
It sounds obvious, but if you’re relying on filling in a paper form, then the process will take longer. It’s not just the time to fill in the paper form and sending it off in the post. When a paper form arrives at the DBS, they will then have to scan it to be read digitally before processing can begin. That all takes time, especially at periods when the system is busier. Online forms also have a function to stop you hitting the submit button before you’ve completed all of the fields.
Third Party Assistance
It can be difficult to navigate the DBS check process if you haven’t been through it before. Processing your DBS check through a third party or umbrella body gives you access to another source of expertise about how to complete the form. They can also look over your form before you send it off to catch any problems, and give you help with issues like identity documents. They will also know the latest processing times at the DBS and should be able to give a fairly accurate indication of how long you should wait for your certificate to arrive in the post.