Is there anything more frustrating than delays which are not your fault? That’s especially the case if you’re applying for a new job and need to have all of the paperwork in place before your employer will allow you to start work. There’s lots in the process you can control, such as making sure you act promptly when you get an email from your employer asking you for information. But there are other parts of the procedure which are out of your control and understanding what might be causing the delays may help take some of the stress out of the situation.


Prioritising NHS Applications

At the start of the Covid 19 pandemic in March 2020, the Disclosure and Barring Service, along with their sister bodies in Scotland and Northern Ireland announced that as a temporary measure they would be giving priority to all applications from people needing a DBS check for roles in the NHS or social care sectors. Coupled with general delays caused by employees working at home rather than in the office, this has led to general delays across for all applicants. Employers however are well aware of the backlogs in the system and will be understanding when applicants are waiting far longer than usual to have their certificates sent out to them.


Mistakes and Human Error

The most common reason for other delays in the system is human error, and this is usually on the part of the applicant. The DBS form has not been designed to be overly complicated, but that doesn’t stop hundreds of applicants making mistakes when filling it in. Surprisingly, most people make mistakes with their names, and where they live.

  • Name – the DBS form doesn’t ask just for your current name, but also other names you have used in the past, and “known by” names too. If you fail to disclose all your names, then there is every chance that your application will be rejected, and you’ll have to start the process again.
  • Addresses – The form asks you to disclose your address history over the last 5 years. Many applicants give an incomplete history, leave gaps between addresses, or miss out postcodes or house numbers. Again, this will see your application rejected outright.


Seasonal and Regional Variations

The DBS processes applications across England and Wales, but the actual checking of an applicant’s criminal record is done by the individual police forces. It’s fair to say that some are quicker than others at doing this. In general terms, the smaller forces are quicker than the larger police forces covering the major cities. Performance statistics for each police force across the UK are published online and may give a rough indication of how long you can expect to wait. There are also surges in applications at different times of the year – such as in late summer, when students applying to enrol on teaching or nursing degrees all apply at once. Maximise your chances of getting through the system quickly by checking your application carefully and getting advice on any unusual situations.