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European Criminal Checks - Safeguarding across borders

In the last few months, the DBS have launched a pilot scheme to test access to criminal record information from the European Union (EU).

This pilot is the first of its kind for UK government and will be jointly run by DBS, Home Office and the UK Central Authority (UKCA), who act as a conduit in and out of the UK for criminality information.

The trial, which will run until April 2016, will affect Dutch or Latvian nationals seeking employment in the UK.

Over 650,000 of the disclosure certificates the DBS process annually are for applicants who are not UK nationals. While the DBS provide guidance on how to access certificates of good conduct from countries outside the UK, they realise this can be complex and time-consuming.

Currently, there is no existing mechanism to access information from other EU countries and add someone to the DBS barred lists, although there is a legal provision of a framework to do so.

The pilot will affect enhanced checks for individuals seeking to work with children and where the nationality on the application form indicates they are a Dutch or Latvian national.

DBS request a check from the Netherlands or Latvia via UKCA for these applications. The Dutch and Latvian authorities will provide criminality information to the UK based on their disclosure rules, which means they may apply their version of the rehabilitation of the offenders act.

The work carried out by the UKCA is designed to give EU countries a full record of the offending history of their citizens and of those foreigners committing crime in their country. This can stop people from escaping their criminal past simply by moving to another EU country.

By sharing more information about a person’s criminal past, law enforcement officers can better manage and monitor any serious criminals they may have in their neighbourhood, thereby increasing the safety of the public.

Since spring 2012 the UKCA have been conducting this exchange through secure electronic channels allowing for a quicker, safer and more cost effective exchange process.        

The pilot will operate on existing DBS processes and systems, which means Personnel Checks won’t need to make any changes to our service to ensure this happens.

The DBS are dedicated to improving the quality of safeguarding information and this pilot is an important first step on their journey to access data from outside the UK.

In the first four weeks alone, since launch, the DBS have requested checks on over 720 relevant applications.

Sarah Mills, Service Development Office at UKCA said: “Having DBS involved means that we can share our expertise and continue building on our relationship. As a collective group, we can provide greater background information, to make sure maximum safeguarding measures are put in place for regulatory bodies to consider an applicant’s suitability for employment.”

Once the pilot is completed, the DBS will be reaching out to many Umbrella Bodies to evaluate the service. 

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