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November 11, 2023
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DBS Checks: Police Performance Information

The current average time taken to process all DBS applications across England and Wales is:

  • Enhanced – 11.8 days
  • Standard – 1.5 days
  • Basic – 1.3 days

The main reason for delay will be if an application needs to be referred to the police service. Although police performance remains strong, some forces are processing work outside the normal timescales expected.

Why do checks go to the police?

For Enhanced DBS checks only, applications will be sent to a police force if there’s a potential match against the names on the application form and police systems. This means that even if an applicant has always resided in one area of the country, their check can be sent to a police force in another area that holds details of a person with the same or similar names to the applicant.

The only exception to this is if the individual is applying for a role that involves working in their own home, such as a foster carer. In this case, even if there is no potential match, the application will still be sent to relevant police forces and law enforcement agencies, so they can carry out a check on other individuals who reside at, or frequent, their home.

Throughout this process, the police may need to gather information from other organisations. There are other instances where DBS checks may be delayed, such as missing, unclear, or incorrect information. Any issues on an application form, such as missing or incorrect information will flag a ‘conflict’ and the application will come back to DBS to clarify the information by contacting the employer, RB, or the applicant. This will inevitably increase the length of time the DBS check takes.

If there is a match

Description automatically generatedIf there is a match on the Police National Computer (PNC), or against the data held by police forces or law enforcement agencies, we’ll send the application to relevant police forces or law enforcement agencies.

If there is no conflict, the forces will check for any information they hold that is relevant to the specific workforce the applicant is applying to work with, for example, the child workforce. If there is no information, the application comes back to DBS.

If they do hold information, they will assess the information’s relevance to the workforce. They will decide if it is relevant and should be disclosed on the DBS certificate. Most of the time, certificates do not contain any ‘approved information’, as the police have decided not to disclose any information. However, they have still had to spend time reviewing the information before that decision can be taken. These checks can take a bit of time, especially if there are several forces involved.

Police performance

Of the 52 police forces and law enforcement agencies (e.g., National Crime Agency) that DBS commissions to carry out checks on their behalf, DBS sends 3 million checks per annum to forces. Of those:

  • on average it takes 21.3 days for the police to return a check that has been sent to them
  • 60% of aged cases, held by forces at the beginning of the month are completed by the end of the month
  • 6 forces (Derbyshire, Dyfed Powys, Hampshire, Kent, North Yorkshire, Sussex) representing 13% of the total checks sent to forces, are experiencing delays

These forces are not expected to return within SLAs until the first calendar quarter of 2024, as the actions taken to improvement, for example, recruitment and subsequent training, will take time to show an improvement in performance. We are working closely with the police on a number of measures which have been put in place to improve performance.

Factors affecting performance

​There are several other factors which can cause delays in forces returning checks within the SLA, including:

  • a high demand for our services
  • assessment of the information they hold, including in some cases obtaining legal advice on whether it appropriate for employment purposes
  • offering representations or responses from representations, which can result in further information being required

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October 12, 2023
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“What’s in a name?” Why background screening matters

Verifile: Celebrating two decades of safer screening processes

Recently, during a training exercise, our team was commended for discovering a surname mismatch. The name on the ID the candidate had loaded onto our platform didn't match the one on their application form.
Why does it matter? A detail like this might seem small, but it can mean the difference between a safe hire and a liability. Cases like this can have severe consequences.

How the Huntley case transformed UK background checks

It’s 20 years this year since the conviction of Ian Huntley, the school caretaker who was found guilty of the murder of ten-year olds, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. 
Huntley had applied for a job at Soham Village College using his mother's maiden name, "Nixon." A comprehensive check under his actual surname would have revealed a criminal record. 
If this information had been available during the recruitment process, it’s unlikely Huntley would have been appointed to the role, potentially preventing the tragic outcome.
This case changed how checks are processed in the UK. The disclosure of an applicant’s mother’s maiden name became mandatory when conducting criminal records screening.

Why comprehensive checks matter

These stories are fundamental to our mission here at Verifile. It was actually a name discrepancy incident that led to the founding of Verifile back in 2004. 
While working for Brinks Israel as a driver, Saguy Unger (real name Ilan Kupperman-Segal) drove away with five million Shekels. Unger had applied for the job with Brinks under a false name in order to conceal his criminal record. 
This story is even more incredible when you consider the company Unger was working for provided armed security services. Our Founder and CEO, Eyal Ben Cohen, realised, if a security company wasn’t aware their employee posed a risk, there was obviously a need for a more effective background checking system.

The hidden dangers of name inconsistencies in hiring

On the surface, a name omission or discrepancy may look like an innocent oversight – and sometimes it is. But given the outcomes in the stories mentioned above, can you run the risk of not fully checking your prospective employees, including every “persona” and identity they’ve had?
The bureaucracy and ‘red tape’ around background screening can feel intrusive for candidates and cause additional hassle for employers but it's important not to lose sight of the ‘why.’ 
When it comes to hiring, a name is more than just an identity. At Verifile, our two decades of experience have taught us how important it is to dive deep into a candidate's history. Even a small discrepancy can be a red flag.
These steps are crucial. They ensure every individual entering your organisation has been thoroughly vetted and is who they claim to be. A missed detail could be the difference between a safe hire and a liability that could have severe consequences for your organisation.

Verifile: Celebrating two decades of safer screening processes

For us, obsessing over discrepancies, omissions and typos within data can sometimes feel
like a thankless task (and pointing out people’s mistakes doesn’t make you popular!). But we
are proud of the work that we do. 
Verifile will celebrate 20 years of incorporation next year. We are deeply committed to delivering products and services that consistently offer our clients peace of mind.
Making the world a safer and more honest place to work has been in our DNA from the start. We take pride in how far we have come, and are excited for the future.
Here’s to the next 20 years, and the partnerships with customers that we’ll create along the way.

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October 11, 2023
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Navigating the Upcoming Changes to DBS Checks: What You Need to Know

The clock is ticking towards the 28th of October 2023 - a significant date for the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks, given the host of changes that are about to be implemented. In a follow-up to our July post, we delve into the details provided by the DBS to clarify how the changes to the Rehabilitation of Offenders (ROA) Rules and the amendment to filtering will impact  BasicStandard, and Enhanced DBS checks, emphasising three scenarios that illustrate the practical implications of these changes.

A Look at the Changes to ROA and Their Ramifications: Affecting Basic, Standard and Enhanced Checks

Custodial Sentences and Their Disclosure:

  • Sentences of over 4 years, barring those that aren’t already excluded like life sentences or sentences of imprisonment for public protection, will have the potential to become spent.
  • Notably, this leniency will not extend to individuals convicted for serious violent, sexual, or terrorist offences listed in Schedule 18 of the Sentencing Act 2020; their convictions will perennially be disclosed.

Amendments to Rehabilitation Periods for Certain Sentences:

  • Custodial sentences of more than 1 year and up to 4 years will become spent 4 years post-sentence.
  • Custodial sentences of up to 1 year will become spent 1 year post-sentence.
  • Community Orders and Youth Rehabilitation Orders will be spent right at the order's end.

Modifying the Filtering Rules: Affecting Standard and Enhanced Checks

The alteration in filtering rules, ensuring all unspent records are invariably disclosed, could mean that some applicants will witness additional unspent records being disclosed under certain scenarios. Here’s a breakdown:

Scenario 1: Persistent Disclosure of Indefinite Restraining Orders

Marvin, serving as a support worker, undergoes a new Enhanced DBS check as necessitated by his employer’s policy of routine re-checks. Marvin’s last Enhanced DBS check was devoid of any disclosed information.

Contrarily, his new Enhanced DBS check brings to light a Restraining Order issued in 1998, which was not displayed in the prior checks.

Although the restraining order is over two decades old and not for a listed specified offence or a custodial sentence, it is ‘indefinite,’ meaning it remains unspent. The prior non-disclosure of the restraining order on Marvin's Enhanced DBS check was attributed to its age, the nature of the offence, and the non-custodial sentence. With the new rules, however, such orders will now invariably be disclosed due to their indefinite nature.

Scenario 2: Youth Conditional Cautions Coming to the Fore

Yasmin was recently handed a Youth Conditional Caution for an act of shoplifting.

Previously, Youth Conditional Cautions were not disclosed on Enhanced DBS checks. However, under the new regime, Yasmin’s caution, which will not attain ‘spent’ status for an additional 3 months, will feature on her DBS certificate.

This example demonstrates the stricter and more transparent disclosure framework, whereby even Youth Conditional Cautions are now brought into the limelight to ensure that all relevant and current offences are made visible to potential employers, enhancing safeguarding measures.

Scenario 3: The ‘Drag On’ Effect and Its Repercussions

Molly has been convicted of Theft and Common Assault in 2001 and received both a Community Order and an indefinite Restraining Order. She now applies for a position in a care home, necessitating an Enhanced DBS check which includes a check of the adults' barred list.

No information was disclosed in her previous checks despite the 2001 convictions.

Every detail from her 2001 conviction is now disclosed on Molly’s DBS check.

This change is attributed to the 'drag on' aspect of ROA rules - the indefinite Restraining Order ensures that all disposals at that sentencing also remain unspent. If Molly successfully applies to the court to have the Restraining Order removed, all records would accordingly become spent and thus, would not be disclosed in future DBS checks.

These scenarios articulate the detailed and nuanced shifts in the disclosure of offences in DBS checks, intricately woven with the new amendments. We’ll continue to guide you through the unfolding changes, ensuring you are well-equipped to navigate through them seamlessly. Should you encounter any particular scenarios or need additional clarification on the aforementioned ones, feel free to connect with us.

General FAQs

The following Frequently Asked Questions represent the issues most commonly raised with DBS so far. 

Q1: Determining Which Rules are Applied to My Certificate

A: The date displayed on the DBS certificate is crucial to understanding which set of rules were applied. If the certificate is dated before 28th October 2023, the processing adhered to the previous rules. Conversely, if the date is on or post-28th October 2023, the new rules were employed.

Q2: Rationale Behind disclosing less information on Basic DBS Checks and changing the ROA again

A: The changes to the ROA and the lowered disclosure levels on Basic DBS checks are driven by a desire to facilitate ex-offenders in reintegrating into society and accessing employment opportunities more robustly. By providing them a path to move forward and contribute positively to the community, these amendments embody a rehabilitative approach.

Q3: Extension of New ROA Rules to Standard and Enhanced DBS Checks

A: The expanded application of new ROA rules to Standard and Enhanced DBS checks ensures all unspent convictions and cautions are consistently disclosed across all check levels. Previously, certain unspent records might appear on Basic checks but be omitted from Standard and Enhanced checks. This change aspires to simplify understanding of DBS products and guarantee that recruitment decisions are made with access to all pertinent information.

Q4: Impact of Changes in Scotland and Northern Ireland

A: The updates to DBS check rules are exclusive to England and Wales, and do not extend to Scotland and Northern Ireland. Any respective alterations or updates in these regions will be communicated by their relevant agencies—Disclosure Scotland and Access NI.

Upcoming Guidance and Communications

The details from the DBS, along with some modifications to current online guidance, will be made available on the DBS website before the 28th of October. The Ministry of Justice will also be updating the ROA guidance and modifying their ROA-calculator to align with these changes. Links to these resources will be shared as soon as they become available.

The nuances embedded in these changes are crucial in navigating the new DBS landscape effectively. Should you have any queries or require further clarification on any of the above points, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

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