The Police forces responsible for carrying out criminal record checks on people who have applied to work or volunteer with children or other vulnerable people have hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons when it emerged that some people are waiting for a staggering eight months for the applications to be processed.

Metropolitan Police Issues

Although the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is the overall body which administers the process, the actual checking is done by Police Forces up and down the country. Figures recently released show that the Metropolitan Police – which covers the Greater London area – has a backlog of 50,750 applications outstanding as of December 2016. This is down from the even higher figure of 83,000 in April this year, and the Metropolitan Police has said that more staff are being drafted in to help clear the huge number of applications. The Force also points out that the Metropolitan Police process a huge proportion of the country’s DBS checks, and applications for private hire taxi licences which now require DBS checking are also slowing the process. The average time for a DBS check to be completed in the London area is 107 days, but some take significantly longer. One of the highlighted cases was that of a London woman who thought she had secured a job as a school nurse, but who was unable to start work until her DBS check had been processed. After eight months of waiting for her DBS certificate to be issued, the NHS Trust which was recruiting her was unable to hold the position for her any longer, and she lost the job.

Around England and Wales

Although the Metropolitan Police area is the one which experiences the longest delays in completing DBS checks, other areas are only performing marginally better. Government targets are that no DBS check should take longer than 60 days, and across the country the average turnaround time was just under 12 days. North Yorkshire was the second slowest area for processing applications after London, with its neighbouring South Yorkshire area performing the best. In Scotland, government targets are that all PVG (Protecting Vulnerable Groups) certificates are issued in 14 days, with the same figures applying in Northern Ireland.

What Can I Do to Speed Things Up?

There is no way around the system in many cases, and applicants for certain professions will need a DBS certificate before they start work. If you move employers regularly, it is worth enrolling for the DBS Update service which costs £13 per year but allows you to transfer your DBS across several jobs. Employers just log onto the system to check your DBS, and you can start work straight away. If you are applying for your first position, or DBS update is not relevant in your case, always take care to complete the form correctly, especially concerning previous addresses and names. Delays are often down to the applicant omitting or misspelling information. Don’t delay in submitting applications, especially when applying over a busy holiday period.