Criminal Record Checks During COVID-19: Summary

April 6th, 2020 by Jake Waddingham

Over the last few weeks there has been many changes by the Disclosure and Barring Service, Disclosure Scotland and Access Northern Ireland in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The changes have been introduced to ensure organisations can continue to check employees and to provide additional support to the Health and Social Care sector. A summary of these changes is below, together with the work DDC is undertaking to ensure checks are completed as quickly as possible.

DDC’s Operations and Support

The priority of our employees’ health and welfare remains our utmost importance. To continue to support our Health and Social Care clients, the office remains open and the Customer Service Team are on hand to support you with all your queries via phone and email. To support organisations with employees working from home, DDC’s ‘Document Checking Service’ continues to operate at full capacity. The service on offer relates to original identity documents being sent to the DDC offices for checking. You can read more about this service in the ‘DDC Response to Covid-19 outbreak’ news article.

DDC Customer Service Team

Phone support is available on slightly reduced hours. The team are available via email and aim to respond within working 4 hours. 

Previous opening hoursOpening hours from Monday 6th April 2020
Monday – FridayMonday – Friday
9am – 5pm10am – 4pm

The Disclosure and Barring Service

The DBS have taken several steps to support organisations through COVID-19:

Amended Contact Centre opening times –DBS Contact Centre opening hours have been amended during the COVID-19 outbreak. Opening hours as of 30 March 2020:

  • Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm
  • Saturday, Closed

Temporary changes to ID checking guidelines  Identity documents can be temporarily verified using copies of the original documents or viewing the originals via video link. It is important to note that checking documents using this temporary process requires the original documents to be viewed on the employees/volunteers first day performing the role. What can DDC do to assist with this process?

Free fast-track check for health and social care sector – The DBS have recently announced free of charge applications and fast-track Barred List checks to help with the coronavirus outbreak. This will allow employers recruiting within the NHS health services and social care services, to appoint new recruits into regulated activity quicker. The DBS will confirm that the individual is not barred from working, so they can start with specific measures in place until the full DBS check has been completed. Which roles are eligible?

Temporary cancellation of the Fingerprint Route – The DBS have informed Registered Bodies that Local Police Forces will no longer be offering a fingerprinting service. This means that for those few applicants who are unable to meet any of the three routes of application for a DBS check, there may be a delay in returning results.

Disclosure Scotland

Disclosure Scotland have made some changes to the availability, application processes and fee structure in response to Covid-19

Checks limited to core sectors – they have confirmed that they will only be accepting applications for workers in the following sectors:

  • Healthcare
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Childcare
  • Social Work
  • Social Care
  • Prisons and Justice

If an applicant is not working in one of those sectors then the applications will not be processed.

Email route for applications – Disclosure Scotland have confirmed that they will no longer be accepting paper applications to join the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme. As a paper application system this is quite a change, and now requires the submitting organisation to transfer the data onto a word document and email information to them.

Helpline closed – the Disclosure Scotland helpline has now been closed and all enquiries should be emailed directly to them.

Fee waivered – the fees associated with applications for key workers have temporarily been waivered, for an initial period of six weeks, with the option to extend further if required.

Access NI

Access to emergency barred list checks – to allow those being recruited to help deal with the COVID-19 crisis, AccessNI are allowing an accelerated check of the relevant barring lists only. A full check should still be sought where the position warrants it.


DDC are here to support you throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. If you have any questions please contact the Customer Service Team on 0116 260 3055 | 0845 644 3298 or

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