For many occupations in the UK, a DBS check will be required. This is a common requirement in jobs which involve caring for children or working with elderly or disabled adults, and for jobs which have a high degree of responsibility like working in the court service or for the tax office. Employers will be aware of the need to carry out DBS checks, or if they are in Scotland or Northern Ireland, checks through the relevant sister bodies. One of the most confusing points about DBS checking is whether there is an expiry date on checks, and there is no simple answer to this.

Expiry Dates

Anyone who has been issued with a DBS certificate or the Scottish or Northern Irish equivalent will notice that there is always a date on which the certificate is issued, but never a “valid to” or expiry date given. This is partly because of the way in which any DBS certificate is produced. The DBS certificate is accurate only on the day it is produced as it is a snapshot of the information held by the Police at that time. In theory, the DBS is therefore out of date as soon it is produced as the employer will not be informed of any offences committed or cautions received after the certificate is sent in the post. There is no law about requiring a DBS certificate to be redone after a set period, and this is left up to each individual employer to decide what is relevant in their case.

Renewing a DBS

Employers have to make their own decisions about what is a “reasonable” timeframe to carry out another DBS check on their staff, bearing in mind the cost involved in doing repeat checks and the type of roles involved. In general, the guidance is that DBS checks should be redone every one to three years. Sometimes the decision is out of the employers’ hands; for example, an agency supplying nursing staff to an NHS Trust may be told by the Trust that they have to renew DBS checking in a set period. The process of renewing a DBS is exactly the same as making a new application and the fees are the same too.

DBS Update

This requirement to renew DBS certificates every one to three years and pay the fees associated with checking meant increased admin for both the employers and the DBS service. As a consequence, the DBS Update Service was introduced. Applicants for a DBS certificate can pay a small amount to register with the service and it allows them to use the same DBS check for more than one job or voluntary position, and to allow employers to access their data online rather than applying for new checks each time. The computerised system will also update the DBS information if and when any new information comes to light, prompting the employer to either apply for a new DBS check, or telling them that no new information has been added since the certificate was issued. This is a far more flexible and efficient way of managing DBS checking, especially when employers have high staff turnover, and want staff to start working quickly.