For many job seekers, how the DBS check system works is a bit of a mystery. Most of us are familiar with the system of making a DBS application, filling in the form and then waiting for the certificate to arrive in the post. But what actually happens at the DBS, and what information they can access to make their decisions is kept confidential, for obvious reasons. If you have run into an issue with your DBS check or think there is something on your record which shouldn’t be there, then there are processes for allowing you limited access to your file.


Subject Access Request

Data Protection laws entitle anyone to contact a company or public body to request what information they have on them. This is known as a subject access request. Anyone who has previously applied for a DBS check can therefore contact the DBS and ask to see what information is held about them on file.

Exercising these rights means the DBS will provide you with things like a copy of any previous application forms you have submitted to them, any emails, or letters you were sent during the application process, and a printout of any information which was printed on your DBS certificate. Although this print out will have the same information as your original certificate, it can’t be used as a substitute if you’ve lost paperwork. Only the person who submitted the application to the DBS can make the application for subject access – an employer can’t apply for this on behalf of a worker, for example. Contact the DBS through their website if you are thinking of making a DBS access request. There is a standard charge of £10 for access to information to cover processing and administration charges. It can take up to 40 days for information to arrive in the post.


Mistakes on Your Record?

One of the main reasons for submitting a subject access request is to make sure that any information held on file about you is accurate. Mistakes are not common, but if you do find a mistake such as a misspelling of your name, your date of birth or address recorded incorrectly, then you can raise a data dispute. If you can provide proof that the information is incorrect, the DBS will correct it for you. This can be quite complicated if you are challenging information which the DBS holds about criminal convictions, as you might be required to go to your local police station to give your fingerprints to show that you are definitely not the person who committed the crime which is linked to your record.


Police National Computer

DBS certificates are produced using the information found on the Police National Computer, or PNC. The PNC doesn’t fall under the remit of subject access requests though, and you will not be able to put in a data access request in the same way as you can with the DBS.