We’re living in an increasingly online world. More and more of our dealings with the government from job seeking to filing a tax return are being moved online. There are lots of advantages to doing things digitally; it’s quicker, cuts down on the amount of paper, and allows users to track documents and correspondence over time. The latest official system to be partially moved online is the DBS service, the system used for carrying out police checking on people applying to work with children or vulnerable adults.

Identity Verification

Although it’s been widely reported in the press that the DBS system is wholly moving online, this isn’t strictly speaking true. There have always been two parts to the DBS checking process. The first part is proving that the person who is applying for the checks to be carried out is who they say they are. This is done by showing documents such as passport, driving licence and utility bills, and giving other key pieces of information such as National Insurance number. After the identity is verified, the next stage is to pass the applicant’s details on to the Police who then run the records checks. It is the first part of the process, the verifying of identity, which is going to be moved into an online process.

How Will I Be Affected?

As of early 2018, people who are applying for a DBS check for the first time will have to log into the Gov.uk Verify site to establish their identity. It’s not just DBS applicants who will be using the Verify system as eventually everyone who accesses tax returns or benefits information online will be logging on too. In theory, logging into the system should speed things up considerably, and should allow people to log in at any time of the day or night which suits. However, the system has had considerable teething problems and might not be as simple to use as intended.

Completion Rates

When looking at how effective the system is, experts look at the completion rate. This measures the percentage of people who complete the verification process after logging on. In the case of the Verify system, this is said to be as low as 38%. The people who appear to find it hardest to prove who they are through the system are people who have little in the way of a digital footprint – people who have not had their own bank account, have only recently arrived in the UK or aren’t on the electoral role. Young people appear to be particularly as are women, and people who have moved around a lot.

Implementation of Verify System

Verify will be going online soon to deal with establishing identities for DBS applicants, but the exact date has yet to be announced. Other issues, such as Brexit and the roll out of Universal Credit, are taking more civil service time and attention. Testing and tweaking of the system is ongoing; is it too much to hope that all bugs will be ironed out by the time it goes live?