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Disclosure & Barring Service


The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) merged on 1st December 2012 to form the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) provides criminal records checks to help organisations make safer recruitment decisions particularly for roles within client organisations working with vulnerable groups such as Care and Education.

The ISA worked purely on ensuring that people who were barred from working with these groups kept their records up to date and relevant for the CRB to access in conjunction with a criminal record check.

What Does the DBS Do?

Process Requests for Disclosures

The DBS search police records and, in relevant cases, barred list information, and then issue a DBS certificate to the applicant and employer to help them make an informed recruitment decision.

As information released on DBS certificates can be extremely sensitive and personal, a code of practice for recipients of DBS certificates has been developed to ensure that any information they contain is handled fairly and used properly.

Review Referrals

Referrals are made to the DBS when an employer or organisation has concerns that a person has caused harm, or poses a future risk of harm to vulnerable groups, including children. In these circumstances the employer must make a referral to the DBS, though this is not obligatory for regulatory bodies.

Make Barring Decisions

The DBS make fair, consistent and thorough barring decisions that are an appropriate response to the harm that has occurred, as well as the risk of harm posed. We are keenly aware of the impact barring or not barring can have both to the person under consideration and also those with whom they have or could have come into contact. Often very difficult and finely balanced decisions have to be made.

Who Do the DBS Work With?

  • Police – provide information that is held locally or on the Police National Computer
  • Department for Education - owns the safeguarding policy for children
  • Department of Health - owns the safeguarding policy for vulnerable groups
  • Capita - private sector partner that operates an administration infrastructure and call centre for our disclosure service
  • Registered bodies - organisations that have registered with the DBS checking service, and are the primary point of contact for Umbrella Body organisations such as Personnel Checks who help Client organisations access the DBS service.

How are DBS Checks Processed by the Criminal Records Bureau?

A Standard DBS Check

Stage 1 – the DBS accept and validate the application

Stage 2 – the Police National Computer is checked*

Stage 3 – Completion – the disclosure is printed and sent to the applicant’s home address. The applicant then passes the information on to the Recruitment Decision Maker at the organisation.

An Enhanced DBS Check

Stage 1 – the DBS accept and validate the application

Stage 2 – the Police National Computer is checked*

Stage 3 – the Children’s and/or Vulnerable Adults list is checked

Stage 4 – Local Police Searches start

Stage 5 – Completion – the disclosure is printed and sent to the applicant’s home address. The applicant then passes the information on to the Recruitment Decision Maker at the organisation.

Stage 4 can be the longest stage in the process. If applicants have had several different addresses then their application will go to the several different local police forces.

The police have 60 days to complete their searches and we cannot chase until this time has lapsed. This is 60 days from Stage 4 and not from when the application was sent to the Criminal Records Bureau. It is our responsibility to chase these applications.

After an application has been at Stage 4 for 60 days we can request that this is prioritised by the DBS.

After 10 days if the disclosure is not completed the DBS will release the name of the police force holding the application and we can write to them asking why it is taking so long to process (a copy of this letter is also sent to the client).

*When the police national computer is searched if an applicants’ details match someone who is known to the police then the applicant may have to undergo a fingerprint test – the Disclosure & Barring Service will issue a request for this which we pass onto the client.