For several years, the government has been publishing data on how quickly DBS checks are being processed around the UK. Figures are issued quarterly, and the most recent figures show performance between April and September 2019.
The first thing which the figures show is a peak of applications in May and June. 450,000 applications were made in May and 464,000 in June, up from 386,000 in April. Seasonal peaks can slow down the overall processing time, so it’s something to be aware of when applying for a DBS check at a busy time. The other main conclusion from the data is that although performance against target is improving, there is still some work to be done. The DBS sets a target of having 77% of enhanced DBS check completed within 14 days. In April and August this year the target was missed, albeit only slightly. This could be down to a combination of a higher volume of applications and staff leave during peak school holiday periods. For standard and basic checks, targets are consistently being met by the Disclosure and Barring Service.
Email or Paper?
Although we’re being encouraged to do more online as it’s quicker and more efficient, the government figures show that a large number of people are still completing the traditional paper form. Around 20% of applications from both workers and volunteers are still received in paper format by the DBS. It seems natural to assume that the volume of applications submitted electronically will continue to increase, and that eventually the number of paper applications will dwindle considerably.
Figures are also released about the uptake rate for the DBS Update service, which continues to be low. Only around 10% of people applying for a DBS certificate tick the box to say they’d like to enrol in the Update service. Update is a database for DBS certificate holders, with an annual subscription fee. The system has a lot of advantages to both applicants and employers, who can both access their DBS information straight away online rather than going through the whole application process from the start. However, the system is not very well advertised and is poorly understood by both applicants and their employers. For many people, whose employers pay for their DBS checks, there is no advantage to them in paying the subscription for the service anyway.
Minimising DBS Delays
Most DBS checks are completed within the target periods, but that’s not to say that you can’t help move things along. There isn’t a fast track option for DBD certificates. Applicants can maximise their chances of getting their certificate returned quickly by taking a lot of time over the application form, and double check the requirements for each box on the form. Call the DBS helpline for advice rather than trying to guess what they are looking for in each box, and get concrete advice. Finally, if you’re not great at proofreading and catching your own mistakes or incomplete information, ask someone else to hit you before submitting your form.