There’s nothing more frustrating than being kept waiting around. If you’re desperate to start a new job but can’t because you’re waiting for your paperwork, then it’s even more frustrating. DBS checks, also known as criminal records checks or disclosure checks, are essential for many jobs. There’s also a general feeling that DBS checks take forever but is this fair?
It’s certainly true that a few years ago there were serious issues within the DBS system. A quick internet search will throw up dozens of stories about people being kept waiting for months, and who lost jobs because of delays in the system. However, things are gradually getting better. The government reports every three months on how long it is taking to turn around DBS applications in each police force area. Search online for the statistics and see how your area is performing compared to other areas, and compared to a year ago.
What you’ll see when you look at the data is that some areas are consistently faster in turning around DBS checks than others. The slowest area has always been Greater London, mainly due to the large volume of applications which the area handles. Conversely, other areas which handle far fewer applications do things a lot more quickly. If you’re aware that your area is slow, then take matters into your own hands and do what you can to speed up your application as much as you can. On the other hand, local employers will be accustomed to waiting for paperwork to be returned.
Not all of the blame for delays in DBS checks can be laid at their door, however. Applicants themselves can cause considerable delays with their applications and there’s lots you can do to speed things along. The first aspect of this is the initial application form. If you make mistakes when filling it in, then DBS will raise queries when it arrives at their office. Make sure you fill in all of the information asked of you, whether a full address history or all previous names. After submitting your form, respond promptly to any phone messages or emails from the DBS. Make sure you use their online tool to track progress of your application, and phone them if you think there’s an unexpected hold up. Keep your employer informed that you’re doing everything you can to speed the application along as much as you can. Keep an eye on the post and when the certificate arrives, take it to your employer as soon as you can.
Starting Work Pending a DBS Check
Whether your employer will let you start work without a certificate depends very much on the role. If you have to do a week of training before starting employment, they might be prepared to let you do this without a valid DBS. But legally, they don’t have to. Make sure you’re doing everything within your power to keep your application on track and making progress.