Police Role in the DBS Checking Process

Apply for a DBS Check

What happens at the DBS after you have filled in your application form and either sent it off in the post or hit the submit button on the computer? For most applicants it’s a bit of a mystery. However, the process is really quite straightforward, and follows the same stages every time. If you’ve submitted your application online, then you can get notifications about what Stage your application has reached.


Stage 1: Validation

When your form initially arrives at the DBS, it is checked quickly for mistakes or missing information. If correct, the form is scanned into the DBS system. If errors are found, the form is returned to the countersignatory for correction.


Stage 2: PNC Search

The staff at the DBS will then search the information held on the Police National Computer, or PNC. This is to match the identity of the person applying. If there is any ambiguity in the identity (for example two people born on the same say, in the same county with the same name), then the applicant might be asked to give fingerprints. This usually is not necessary.


Stage 3: Barred Lists

The next stage is to check the registers of all people legally barred from working with Children, Adults, or both for matches.


Stage 4: Police Record Search

Enhanced and standard DBS checks are then sent off to the police to allow them to search the information they hold on their own records. Enhanced disclosure checks in a few situations might involve the disclosure of intelligence about an applicant which has not resulted in a crime, such as repeated arrests or charges for violent or sex offences. The police officers in charge of producing the DBS checks in each force are responsible for looking at each application in detail and weighing up what to disclose (if anything), given the nature of the position the person has applied for.

Police record checking at Stage 4 is often the stage of the process which causes the delays. In general terms, smaller rural forces are speedier at turning around checks, but delays are more common at the large city forces in London or Manchester, for example. There is not much you can do to speed up checks once the form has arrived at the Police Force, but employers are generally understanding about waiting while a form makes its way through the system.


Stage 5: Printing

Any information to be disclosed on the certificate is printed securely, and then sent out to the applicant in the mail. Usually, that’s the end of the matter and all the applicant has to do is take their certificate into work to show their employer. In rare situations, there might be an issue with the certificate, such as a typo with the name, or the applicant seeing crimes listed which they do not recognise. The DBS has a procedure for correcting mistakes, but this has to be started as soon as possible after receiving the certificate.