One of the biggest changes to the DBS process came into force in August 2019. However, despite the changes affecting perhaps thousands of applicants, the changes went largely unnoticed. The press may have been focused on Brexit rather than disclosure checking, but if you aren’t up to speed with the new rules regarding amendments, then this could cause both serious delays to your DBS check and have financial consequences too. In the worst-case scenario, long delays in getting a DBS certificate could potentially cost you a job too.


What’s Changed?

Until August 2019, staff at the Disclosure and Barring Service would check over each form received, making sure there were no errors. Any discrepancies about previous names or an address history would be flagged, and the DBS would get in touch with the applicant to clarify the error. This checking and making amendments to forms was labour intensive, and so in August 2019 the DBS announced that they would no longer chase up mistakes and errors. Any forms found to have mistakes are now just rejected outright. This means that applicants have to start the application process again from scratch and pay the fee again too.


Section C – 5 Year Address History

The section where most mistakes are made on the DBS form is around address history. Applicants for all three levels of Disclosure check are asked for a list of every address where they have lived for the past five years. If you’ve lived in the same house for longer than that’s simple; you just fill in your current address and leave it at that. The complications arise in people who have moved around between several addresses in the past five-year period.

The Disclosure and Barring Service needs to have every address where you have lived on a permanent basis. You don’t have to give addresses of places you’ve just visited or stayed with friends. However, there is a lot of confusion around whether students should give their home addresses or term-time accommodation, and how time spent out of the country for extended periods should be recorded.


Assistance with the Form

Given the new rules about rejecting forms which contain discrepancies or omissions, it makes sense to get advice on your form before you submit it. There is a range of options for doing this. If you are submitting your DBS form through an employer or a charity, there should be someone in the organisation to give guidance on completing the form. If not, then the DBS has a telephone helpline and an email address for asking questions.

It can be frustrating to hold on a telephone line or wait for an email to be answered. But the alternative is making a mistake on your DBS form and having it rejected. Remember also that the guidance can often change over time. Don’t assume that the process is the same now as it was the last time you applied. All of the guidelines are available on the DBS website, along with latest news updates.