There have been substantial changes to the processes for licensing both black cab and private hire taxi drivers over recent years. All of the changes are designed to make things safer for passengers, guaranteeing that both the vehicles and the drivers undergo a basic level of checking to ensure that they are safe. Many local authorities now require that CCTV is installed as standard in all vehicles, mainly for the protection of passengers but also to protect drivers from assault or theft. DBS criminal records checks are also standard and must be renewed each time the driver applies for a new taxi licence. Renewing DBS checks involves a considerable amount of paperwork, so it’s perhaps not surprising that many licensing authorities are asking drivers to sign up to the DBS Update service instead.


What Is DBS Update?

Update is a subscription service which is organised and administered by the Disclosure and Barring Service, or DBS. The idea behind Update is to make the recruitment process easier for both drivers and recruiters, by providing a “live” database of DBS information which is updated with any new information on a driver when it is added to the police computer. Once signed up for the service, drivers can allow their employers or the local licensing bodies to access their information. Currently, the cost of the Update subscription is £13 per year.


Are There Benefits to Update?

Licensing authorities are carrying out checks on drivers as frequently as every six months. If you are not a member of Update, this involves completing forms, showing your identity documents, and paying the full cost of an enhanced disclosure twice a year. As an enhanced disclosure check is currently £40, this is substantially more expensive than paying for your first disclosure check and then subscribing to Update. Many licensing authorities will refuse to let a driver work while a check is pending. As there is no way of knowing how long your certificate will take to arrive in the post, this could mean several weeks not working, and waiting for the paperwork to arrive.


Joining DBS Update

The DBS has made it as easy as possible for drivers to subscribe to the Update service, and once your subscription is activated, it will start saving you money immediately. When you fill in your next DBS application, take a note of the e-reference number which is generated when you submit your paperwork online. This is the tracking number which you can then use to sign up with their DBS’s Update Service.

If you have already received your certificate in the post, then you can use the unique disclosure certificate number printed on it to sign up for the Update service, as long as you do this within a week of receiving your certificate. Pay the subscription fee with a debit or credit card, and then follow the instructions about how to share your details with your employer, or your local authority’s licensing department.