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Frequently Asked Questions



What is a DBS check?

DBS (Disclosure and Barring Services) checks replaced the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks on 1st December 2012. The changes are as follows:

  • On 1st December 2012 the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) merged with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).
  • The new name is the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
  • The logo has changing and all documents have been rebranded.
  • DBS was established under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.
  • DBS is a Non-Departmental Public Body Sponsored by the Home Office.
  • DBS became operational 1st December 2012.

CRB certificates will continue to remain valid. All services continue and the contact details for DBS remain the same as they were for the CRB.


Who needs a DBS check?

Disclosure and barring scheme changes came into effect on 10th September 2012. These include a scaling back on which positions now require and qualify for a DBS check.

These changes include:

  • A new definition of regulated activity, which has been changed to focus on work involving close and unsupervised contact with vulnerable groups including children.
  • The removal of the term and category of controlled activity; thereby unless a person has a role involving a regulated activity they will no longer be eligible for a barred list check.
  • A new minimum age (16) at which someone can apply for a DBS check.
  • A more rigorous 'relevancy' test for when the police release information held locally on an enhanced DBS check.

Full details on the changes to the Disclosure and Barring scheme are available here

In practice this means that DBS checks are required for unsupervised volunteers and staff involved with your organisation that have direct access to, or work directly with children or adults at risk.

The following list gives some examples of people who require a DBS check, but is by no means exhaustive:

Instructors, teachers, coaches, activity leaders, healthcare workers, dental staff, social work staff, child minders, unsupervised volunteers, anyone working in a school, nursery, children's home, childcare premises, anyone providing healthcare, personal care, or who assists with the managing of someones affairs or finances.

What checks are available?

A Standard DBS Check To be eligible for a Standard DBS check the position must be included in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975.

An Enhanced DBS Check To be eligible for an Enhanced DBS check, the position must be included in both the ROA Exceptions Order and in Police Act Regulations.

An Enhanced check with Barred List Check for regulated activity - To be eligible to request a check of the Children's or Adults' Barred lists, the position must meet the new definition of Regulated Activity. This check is the highest level of disclosure and barring check.

For further details on which checks are required for which positions see CRB checks: eligible positions guidance

What does a DBS check cost?

The Disclosure and Barring Service's fees for DBS checks are:

  • Standard - £26
  • Enhanced - £44
  • Volunteers - Free of charge


Disclosure Services fees for processing your online DBS check are just £5 for volunteers and £10 for employed persons, although these figures may reduce with sufficient volume.

How can I pay Disclosure Services?

Disclosure services accept payment by Cheque, BACS and all major Credit or Debit Cards.

What is the DBS's definition of a "volunteer"?

The DBS checks are "free of charge" for volunteers who require a check, but only if the volunteer is:

"A person who is engaged in any activity which involves spending time, unpaid (except for travelling and other approved out-of-pocket expenses), doing something which aims to benefit someone (individuals or groups) other than or in addition to close relatives."

Some people can be referred to as volunteers, but do not actually meet the DBS's criteria to get a free check. This is because they may receive, or expect to receive, a benefit, such as remuneration or a credit towards a qualification. For example, students on training placement; people on work placements; foster parents/carers must pay for their checks.

What is the process for applying for a DBS check?

Disclosure Services can process DBS checks in two ways; via their fast, accurate and secure web based, e-Bulk e-application route or via 'manual' paper application forms.

Initially complete the contact us form or telephone Disclosure Services on
01691 662255 to discuss your requirements.

Your organisation will be required to sign a 'Form of Agreement'. This details your legal requirements with regards to the safe storage, handling, use and disposal of disclosures and disclosure information, the recruitment of ex-offenders and complying with the DBS's Code of Practice.

The Agreement is open ended, there are no set up charges and you can cancel with a few days' notice.

When Disclosure Services has received your completed Form of Agreement your Nominated Person/s will be given access to the online service to key in candidate's data, or alternatively you can issue a candidate with a 'remote' login for them to key in the data themselves.

How long does a DBS check take?

The current online average turnaround is under 6 days for an Enhanced DBS, without content and 1 day for a Standard DBS check.

Disclosure Services commitment to clients is same day processing of all disclosure applications and disclosure results.

You can track each stage of an application from your web account.

How do I get to see the DBS certificate?

As from 17th June 2013 DBS now only issue one paper certificate which they send to the applicant. Employers will have to request to see the certificate from the applicant.

You can check the process of an application using your Disclosure Services web account to find out when a certificate has been issued. If you have used the online e-bulk service you will also get access to Disclosure numbers and dates, and notification whether the disclosure is clear or contains conviction information, but you no longer get informed about the details of the content of disclosure.

If an employee hasn't brought their certificate in to their employer within 28 days of the issue date, the employer can instruct Disclosure Services to request a reprint of the certificate from the DBS. A reprint will be posted directly to the employee.

What is the online tracking service?

The online tracking service provides a facility for applicants/employers to track the progress of their Disclosure applications.

How long is a DBS check valid for?

Each DBS check will show the date on which it was printed.

DBS checks do not carry a pre-determined period of validity because a conviction or other matter could be recorded against the subject of the DBS check at any time after it is issued.

There is no official expiry date for a DBS check. Any information revealed on a certificate will be that held by police at the time the check was issued. You should check the date of issue on the certificate to decide whether to request a new one. If your employee has subscribed to the DBS Update Service you can, with their permission, request a Status check.

DBS checks are an important part of a rigorous recruitment process but are only accurate up to the date of the initial DBS certificate or status check.

In certain employment sectors a DBS check may be required periodically. You may be required by law to carry out a fresh check of the Independent Safeguarding Authority Childrens' and/or Adults' list in accordance with sector-specific guidance.

What are the new DBS identity checking guidelines?

The DBS has reduced the number of documents acceptable for ID verification. This has been done to lessen people's ability to use documents that are easily obtained or forged to obtain a DBS certificate, which could then be used to secure a position of trust.

Full details on the acceptable documents are available here.

What is the new Update Service?

The Update Service is a facility where an individual may choose to have their DBS Certificate kept up-to-date and take it with them from role to role (within the same workforce) where the same type and level of check is required.

The main purpose of the Update Service is if you recruit an individual and the role requires a DBS check and the individual has registered with the Update Service you can, through your Disclosure Services web account, with the individuals permission, use their current DBS certificate; subject to it matching all the conditions. The online status check will detail if any new information/or changes have happened since the DBS certificate was issued. If there is no change in status, you can, if you wish, accept the certificate presented to you instead of undertaking a new DBS application.

For further details on using the Update Service click here

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