We know there’s a lot of myths and misunderstanding when it comes to DBS checks. There’s misunderstanding because the system is complicated. It doesn’t help that over time the law changes, new rules are introduced and criteria change. To confuse matters further, there are separate bodies doing similar checks in Northern Ireland and Scotland, but with different names. We’re going to try to break down some of the most common questions about DBS checks, with a simple true/false answer.
I can choose what DBS checks I have
False. The Disclosure and Barring Service, which is a government body, lays down what jobs need DBS checks. Employers then look at their guidelines when deciding who needs a check. You are of course well within your rights to refuse to have a check, but employers also have the right to refuse to employ you without one.
You pass or fail the DBS check
False. There is no grade and no pass or fail written on a DBS certificate. It’s just a statement of information. Each employer will decide how they wish to deal with that information. We always advise that honesty is the best policy. Use the interview as an opportunity to demonstrate that you’re a reformed character if you know you have minor convictions in the past.
People from outside the UK can apply for a DBS check
True. DBS will process checks on anyone who has a UK address, irrespective of their nationality. The only exception to this is for people who don’t have a complete 5 year address history in the UK. In addition to the DBS checks, they may be asked for a similar police check from where they were living previously.
Volunteers get a free disclosure check
True. People volunteering with charities and other organisations don’t have to pay for their checks. The process for applying is the same as for anyone else. Volunteers working in a wide range of settings need to be police checked and charities will advise on how to go about this.
Getting a DBS check takes ages
This one is both true and false. It really depends on where you are living. Some areas of the country process checks much more quickly. The government publishes monthly performance statistics to allow you to check out how your local police are doing.
I can pay for a fast-track DBS
False. There are not fast track options for this service. What you can do is to streamline the process by making sure you get everything right on the application form at the first attempt. This prevents your application form being sent back to you for corrections.
I can use my DBS certificate in lots of different jobs
False. A DBS certificate can’t usually be transferred between different jobs and voluntary positions. This is because the certificate isn’t automatically updated with any new information about you. Get around this by signing up to the DBS Update service which gives instant, online access to your records.