One of the first things you might spot when you receive your brand new DBS certificate is that it doesn’t have an expiry date on it. That’s the case whether you receive your check from the Disclosure and Barring Service in England and Wales, Protecting Vulnerable Groups in Scotland, or AccessNI in Northern Ireland. That leads to the obvious question of when the checks have to be renewed, and the answer isn’t nearly as simple as you might think.
Why is there no expiry date?
There is an easy explanation for why DBS certificates don’t have a “valid until” date on them. When the police run a check on their records, they haven’t a crystal ball to look into the future and predict offences. All they can do is record the information they currently have. In theory, a DBS certificate could be printed one day, the applicant could rob a bank the next, and the employer would be none the wiser. That’s perhaps unlikely but demonstrates the problem perfectly. There’s no way of adding information to a certificate once printed.
Because of these issues about certificates being, in theory, out of date as soon as they are printed, employers have to make their own minds up about how often they want to put their staff through the process again. The most frequent time interval is every two or three years. Police will also often inform employers if a staff member is arrested on charges which would affect any future DBS check. Employers should have policies regarding how often they run checks. This could be more or less frequent depending on the type of role and level of risk.
Process for Renewal
There are no special processes for renewing a DBS check. If an employer asks for a repeat of a previous check, the only option is to go through the entire process again from scratch. Fill in the application form, prove your identity and then wait for the certificate to arrive in the post. There is no “fast track” or special process for people who are renewing a certificate rather than applying for a new one. In most cases, and especially when the job requires a new DBS check, the employer pays. Volunteers have their DBS checks processed free of charge in most cases.
DBS Update Service
One way of getting around the need to get another DBS check every couple of years is to sign up to the DBS Update service. This is a service which involves an additional cost. It does eliminate the need to apply for a new DBS check as the database is always up to date, but financially is probably not worth it unless you are applying for a new one every six or nine months. However, if you swap jobs a lot, or take on lots of voluntary work in different sectors, it is a good way of cutting down on the amount of paperwork associated with disclosure checks.