If you’re waiting for a DBS certificate before starting a new job, then it can come as a shock when your certificate arrives with errors on it. How can this possibly happen? Surely, we can trust the police to have the correct information about us? Unfortunately, human error is a fact of life and despite everyone’s best efforts, sometimes mistakes are made. But don’t panic. There are systems in place to help you get genuine errors fixed as quickly as possible.


How do mistakes happen?

There are two main classes of mistakes which are made on DBS forms or police records. The first is a simple case of mistaken identity. This usually happens when two people have similar names, or dates of birth. If you have a relatively common name like James Smith or Karen Jones, then there are probably hundreds of other people with the same name as you. It’s easy to see how you could potentially be mixed up with someone else of the same name, especially if they have a similar date of birth.

The other possibility is that someone has deliberately tried to pass themselves off as you when they’ve been arrested or charged with an offence. This doesn’t happen often, and upsettingly, it’s usually someone who knows you well enough to be able to give your name, address and date of birth.


Fixing Mistakes on DBS Certificates

It might sound obvious, but the first thing you should do when your DBS certificate drops into your letterbox is to check it over. If you spot something which doesn’t seem right, then flag it up immediately. Call the DBS and ask for their procedure for fixing mistakes. If the mistake is something like a misspelling of your name, then checking their records should confirm the mistake and allow them to issue a corrected certificate immediately. This is known as a data entry dispute.

If the mistake is finding an offence or criminal record listed that you don’t believe belongs to you, then this is more complicated to sort out. This is known as a data source dispute. You have the right to officially challenge any offences which you don’t believe apply to you. Once the DBS has been advised that you are challenging a conviction, you will be asked to make an appointment at your local Police Station. An officer takes your fingerprints, and these can be compared against the fingerprints taken at the time of the arrest. If they don’t match, then you’re in the clear. A new DBS can be sent out without the conviction which doesn’t belong to you.


Implications of Mistakes

Mistakes just slow up the whole process, and in the worst-case scenario could stop you getting a job. Making appointments for fingerprints and comparing them all takes time, and employers might decide they are not prepared to wait. Unfortunately, you’re only going to find out about these mistakes when you apply for a DBS check. Remember though that mistakes are relatively uncommon and for most people, their DBS certificate is exactly as it should be.