Nobody can argue that DBS checking for people planning to work with children or other vulnerable groups. It can however be very frustrating for people who have accepted a new position but have to wait for weeks or even longer for their checks to be completed and to start work. New figures released by an independent company which helps people submit their DBS check paperwork have thrown up continuing huge discrepancies between the fastest and slowest Police forces.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given the number of people who are living in the London area and applying for new DBS checks, between January and October 2016 it was the Metropolitan Police who took the longest time to turn around DBS checks submitted to them – an average of 109 days or over three months. The government target is that 100% of checks should be completed within 60 days, but data from the Metropolitan Police shows that this target was met in just two months over the nine months data collected. Some of London’s largest employers, including Mayday Healthcare which supplies staff for medical and healthcare jobs in the capital, has raised serious concerns about the impact the slow DBS turnaround times is having on recruiting staff and placing them in positions in hospitals, care homes and other settings. No other forces are performing quite so badly as the Met, but Dorset, North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and Thames Valley areas are also at the bottom of the performance table.
Although the situation is poor in the Metropolitan Police area, other police forces are turning around DBS checks well within the 60-day target as set by the government. If you submit a DBS check in Norfolk, the average checking time is just 1.8 working days. Guernsey, Northern Ireland, Jersey and Leicestershire forces also complete DBS checks in less than 4 days. Some of these force areas are dealing with far fewer requests than the London area though, and no data is given about the absolute numbers of DBS applications processed by each force area.
So What’s Being Done?
The Metropolitan Police has responded to concerns that they are being too slow in processing DBS checks, saying that a huge rise in the number of applications being received coupled with difficulties in recruiting and training staff to work in the unit which processes DBS forms has caused the delays. The Metropolitan Police went on to say that new staff from within the Police and from temporary agencies had been recruited, and that they had shifted some Police staff on restricted duties into the DBS unit to try to address the delays. Longer term, the Metropolitan Police hopes that better policies around recruitment, training and productivity will keep delays to a minimum. In the meantime, people applying for their DBS in London should submit the paperwork as soon as they are able to, have it checked to make sure that all details are correct, and negotiate with their employer to start work in a restricted capacity until paperwork is received.