Although it’s often said that the British are world experts in queuing, the reality is that nobody likes being kept waiting. It’s bad enough waiting for a delayed train or a delivery from an online retailer, but when you are waiting for paperwork to arrive before you can start a new job, the frustration is even more intense. Police criminal records checks, also known as DBS checks or Disclosure Checks, are essential for many roles, and although employers will have their own policies, often they will refuse to let you start work without the certificate in your hand.


Pandemic Causing Delays

We know – we’re bored with hearing every example of poor customer service being blamed on the pandemic too. But in the case of DBS checks, it’s probably justified. At the start of the pandemic, DBS staff like other civil servants were told to work from home. At the same time, the head of the service announced a new way of fast-tracking all applications for DBS checks from people working in health or social care. That was great news if you were applying to go back to the NHS as a nurse or take a job as a carer supporting people in their own homes. It wasn’t such great news for anyone else, who found their application pushed to the bottom of the pile while the DBS concentrated on healthcare staff.


Improving Picture?

Things started to pick up again over the summer of 2021, with more workers being encouraged back into the office and processing times shortening. But with another “work from home” recommendation issued at the start of December 2021. This could lead to even longer delays in getting certificates back to applicants especially as the Christmas and New Year period is usually slower, given that many DBS staff take holiday at that time of year.


What Can I Do to Speed Things Up?

The fast-track option which was put in place for NHS and healthcare staff in 2020 wasn’t a fast-track option in the usual sense of the word. It wasn’t an express service which you could pay a fee for swifter processing. The only way you can get your DBS certificate back more quickly is by making sure you complete the form correctly first time and start completing your paperwork as soon as your employer sends you the form or directs you to their website link. Many delays in the DBS system are caused by human error; an applicant forgetting to give a full history of their previous addresses or missing out their middle name. Check and double check that you have fully understood what is being asked before submitting the form and if you have any queries, check. Make sure you understand what verifying your identity means, and gather together your passport, driving licence or other documents you might need rather than scrabbling around for them. Keep in touch with your employer to let them know how your application is progressing. They will be well accustomed to the delays too.