The process for carrying out police checks on workers and volunteers is constantly evolving, and it can be confusing for both workers and employers to keep up with what they are supposed to do, and when. The situation becomes even more complex where an individual needs DBS clearance for various situations – for example someone who works part time as a nurse, then volunteers to help out at their children’s school and with football at the weekend. Do they need three separate DBS checks to be done? And how often should those DBS checks be redone or updated?

DBS Update Service

The paperwork and administration required to issue a new DBS certificate for every setting led the government to think of a new way to streamline the service and allow people to use the same certificate in each job or voluntary position. This service is called the DBS Update Service. It costs £13 per year to register for the service, but the fee is waived for people who are volunteers. Once registered, the service allows the person registered to use the same DBS certificate in multiple positions, and once registered, allows employers or voluntary organisations to check an applicant’s status online. This makes the process a lot quicker, and should cut out delays as there is no longer the need to wait for the DBS certificate to be issued before starting work. This is not an automatic system though, the applicant has to register for the Update service by ticking the relevant box on the form.

Drawbacks to Update Service

The DBS Update Service can only be used when each position requires the same level of DBS checking. If the applicant has only the basic level of disclosure checking for their main position, and then takes up another opportunity which requires a more detailed level of checking, then there is no other option but to have another full DBS check done, and for another fee to be paid. Fees are not paid by volunteers, however. The person registered for the update service also has to remember to pay the annual subscription to remain on the register, although email reminders are sent. Employers are not obliged to use the update service if they do not want to, and still have the right to request that a new check be carried out for each new employee. Employers and voluntary organisations will all have their own policies regarding the checking of volunteers or employees, and these are usually clearly states when applying.

Scotland And Northern Ireland

The DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks apply in England and Wales only. Volunteers and workers in Scotland and Northern Ireland have to follow a different process with their relevant bodies. These are the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme in Scotland and AccessNI in Northern Ireland. Employers in these areas should be aware of what they need to do to check up on their employees and volunteers. The PVG update process in Scotland works in a broadly similar way to the system in England and Wales, and allows people to use the same checks in various ways.