There’s been so much publicity about the need to undergo rigorous checking when working with vulnerable groups that public awareness that there is a scheme is high. The details of how the DBS system works, the different levels of checking and the fact that Scotland and Northern Ireland have different systems are a mystery to many. One of the main areas of confusion is about using the same DBS check form across a number of settings.
Levels of DBS checking
The first main thing to understand is that different levels of checking are used depending on the position. Although the different levels might have alternative names in Scottish and Northern Irish systems, the principle is the same. The most detailed level of checking is applied to roles working with vulnerable adults and children. These different levels make using the same DBS check for various things often impossible. If you’re checked at a basic level for your day job working in a bank, you’d still need a much more detailed level of checking to volunteer as a leader at Brownies or a sports coach.
Up to Date Information
A DBS certificate is printed with the information the Police hold about you on the day the checks are done. Anything which comes to light after that date will obviously not be on the form. New employers or organisations you’re thinking of volunteering with will therefore be reluctant to accept any form they feel is out of date. They will also have their own policies which require all new starts to undergo a fresh DBS check, and that’s without getting into the complex issues around data protection and sharing personal details between sources. It’s easy to see why most companies will insist on a new DBS check each time you move, even if the most recent DBS was only printed a couple of months ago.
In England and Wales, DBS runs an update service for which people pay an additional annual fee. As the name suggests, the update system adds any new information to your current DBS record as time moves on. Subscribers are given details to log into the system, and can give permission for an employer to log in too. That means that if you apply for a new job, you can have checks done immediately rather than going through the whole process from the start. In Scotland, the system is different in that once you’ve registered with the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme, your registration number has to be quoted on all future applications for checking under the scheme. So although the checks still have to be done, it’s often a lot quicker than the first check. AccessNI in Northern Ireland don’t have a system for updating information automatically, but turnaround times in Northern Ireland are usually a lot shorter than in the rest of the UK so you shouldn’t be kept waiting for too long for a new check.