If you’re working in an occupation which requires you to be checked by the Police before starting, this system will be explained to you when you apply for the job. This checking process used to be called a CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check and is now DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service). In Scotland a separate system called PVG operates and in Northern Ireland, people undergo AccessNI checking. Most of the people undergoing checking are working in jobs in the healthcare and education sector, but other jobs might require a check too. Once you have had your check completed and you’ve started work, it’s easy to forget about your DBS check. But when does the certificate expire and need to be renewed?
Unlike other types of government paperwork, there is no expiration date on a DBS certificate. This is because the certificate presents a statement of facts at a set point in time; unless you have enrolled for an update service (does not apply to the basic level check), no new convictions, cautions or other information will be added to your certificate.
Because of these issues around information being potentially out of date as soon as the certificates are printed, most employers have developed their own policies around renewing of DBS or PVG checks on their staff. There is no law stating that a DBS certificate should be renewed after a year, or two years, or even five years. Organisations have the responsibility of deciding when checks should be renewed and will make this decision depending on the type of role. The decision about when DBS should be renewed doesn’t come from the employee either as the process has to be started by the employer.
When you’re renewing a DBS or PVG check, the process is just the same as applying for a check on a new employee. The basic steps are completing the application form, proving your identity using evidence such as passport, utility bills and bank statements. The application is then submitted to the DBS, who perform the required checks and then send out the certificate to the applicant’s home address, not to the employer. It usually takes about two to three weeks for a DBS to be issued, but backlogs at certain times of the year can lead to delays.
The very easiest way round all of this angst about renewing, not renewing or how to apply for a renewal is to register with the Update Service. This has to be done when you apply for your DBS check initially and a small annual fee applies. Registering for the update section gives you access to the DBS online system with your own login ID and password. It also means that any new information which comes to light about you is automatically added to your DBS record. When you start a new job, or the time comes to renew your current DBS, you can just pass your login details to your employer who can instantly see your DBS status.