The latest DBS figures, showing how quickly disclosure checks are turned around in various parts of the country have recently been released. Although the main focus of the figures is about time and targets, but if you dig a bit deeper into the figures there are some other facts which stand out too. One of the main revelations is around the number of people who are enrolling in the DBS Update service, which remains low.


What Is Update?

Update is an add-on to the disclosure checking process in England and Wales. Similar systems operate in Northern Ireland and Scotland. The idea behind Update is that it provides a constantly updated disclosure service for applicants. Update does this by using a database which is constantly updates. This means that the records are always current and gets rid of the need to request a new DBS certificate each time you change job. If you need to check your DBS information, you just log into the website and access up to date disclosure facts.



In order to sign up for DBS Update, you first have to apply for a disclosure check in the normal way. When you fill in the form, there’s a box to tick to confirm that you wish to be enrolled in the DBS update service. If you don’t tick the box, or only realise that you want to enrol after the certificate has arrived, you have a short period to enrol in the service after your certificate in sent out. The latest government figures reveal that only around 10% of applicants for a DBS check choose to tick the box to sign up for DBS Update. Why is this?


Cost or Usefulness?

The reasons why DBS Update isn’t nearly as popular as it could be can probably be split into the two broad headings of cost and usefulness. There is an annual subscription fee to be part of the DBS Update service, which is currently £13 per year. It’s not a huge sum of money, but if you are in an industry where employers generally meet any costs associated with DBS checks, why would you choose to pay extra yourself?

The second key problem is usefulness. The level of knowledge and awareness of Update is fairly low among employers as well as among applicants. Employers may well decide that even if an applicant has signed up to Update, they want a new DBS check. The other is that Update can only be used for checks at the same levels. If you have an enhanced disclosure check and enrol in Update at the same time, you can’t then use Update for a job which only needs a Standard disclosure. Similarly, if you’ve previously been working with adults only, then decide to switch to working with children, your employer may ask for a new DBS checks are the risks are different.

All of this means that uptake of Update is fairly low and will remain so until there is another overhaul in the system.