Thousands of children in the UK make use of the school to home transport system every school day, and not just because they are too lazy to walk. Any child who lives more than three miles from their school is entitled to help to get there, whether this is by bus or in a private taxi. Many children in rural areas get buses to and from school every day, and even in urban areas, children attending schools far away from their home address may be provided with transport too. All drivers and chaperones involved in this system require an enhanced DBS check, given that the nature of their work means they are in close, unsupervised access with children. However, many drivers and other staff members have been furloughed and not working since schools closed in March, and this might be storing up problems for when schools return in September.
Renewing DBS Checks
People involved in school transport all require an enhanced DBS check. This is the most in-depth level of check and looks at not only someone’s current and unspent criminal convictions, but issues further in the past too. DBS checking is essential to ensure that children are safeguarded from harm on their way too and from school. A robust DBS checking process should ensure this happens, and that people who have long criminal records can’t get into a position where they could pose a risk to children.
DBS certificates don’t have an expiry date on them when printed. This is because strictly speaking, DBS checks are only accurate on the day on which they are printed. Any subsequent offence can’t be added to a certificate at a later date. Most employers therefore have some sort of system for noting when DBS checks were received, and then asking the applicant to go through the process again after a set period. This is usually 2 to 5 years.
Problems with Renewal
At present, there is likely to be a large number of people whose DBS checks have gone through the timescale set by their employer for renewal. Of course, this doesn’t mean that these people automatically pose a risk to children, or to anyone else. It does mean though that the DBS is likely to see a surge of applications – whether first time or renewals – from education related occupations in the next few weeks. During the past few months, the DBS has been prioritising applications from the healthcare sector, and this has led to hold-ups for applications from people working in other sectors.
The good news is that a set period for renewal is not set out in law, and many Councils have extended their policies for increased flexibility. Hopefully in another year or six months, delays will be less acute. Applicants who are still being asked to submit a form for their new DBS check should bear in mind that the best way to reduce delays is to get the application form absolutely right, without any typos, errors or omissions.