Disclosures are a check against Government-held records at a specific moment in time. As the records could be updated at any time, Disclosures are technically out of date as soon as they are issued. When forming company policies the employer should look to answer the following questions:
Should I accept a Disclosure obtained from another source?
There is nothing preventing an employer from doing this however the process (known as Portability) it is not endorsed by the DBS or Disclosure Scotland. Their current guidance highlights the risks in the process, and encourages each organisation to assess those risks for themselves. The main risks in accepting a Disclosure from another source (i.e. not requested by the current employer) are:
- Was any confidential information released to the Registered Body (previous employer) that was not made available to the applicant? Under recent legislation changes (2012) the employer would not receive any additional information that is not on the Certificate (previously called ‘Soft Intelligence’). The Police will inform the employer under their Common Law powers, if there is any further information that requires evaluation, that the applicant is not aware of (e.g. an investigation in progress).
- Is the Certificate presented by the applicant genuine? There are certain security features present on the Certificate which are designed to distinguish a genuine certificate, and these should be thoroughly checked before accepting a Disclosure.
- Did the original RB carry out the identity checks diligently? If the Disclosure was obtained on partially verified identity documents, a full Disclosure may not have been obtained for the applicant. Relying on others to have checked ID on accordance with the DBS requirements is a risk.
- How long before the issue date on the Disclosure were the Police National Computer, Local Police Force and Vetting and Barring List checks actually run? The older the Certificate the greater the chance that it’s content may have changed.
- Does the Certificate presented belong to the applicant? An employer should thoroughly check the identity of an applicant before accepting a Disclosure from another source. As an organisation DDC Ltd recommend that the identity is checked in accordance with the process of applying for a Standard or Enhanced DBS Disclosure.
- Is the previous Disclosure Certificate suitable for the role on offer? The Job Title, Level and Vetting and Barring Lists as entered on to the application form will determine the details released, and the information that the Local Police Force may include on the Certificate. If these details to not match what the new employer would normally request then the Certificate should not be accpeted.
How long is a Disclosure valid for?
- Typically DBS checks are valid for three years, however there is technically no validity period to a Disclosure Certificate. Any information can be added to an applicant’s record after the issue date of the Certificate which would not be included on the Certificate. Each organisation can review their internal processes to decide on a suitable recheck period. Within the industry, three years is a common choice.
How often should I check my staff?
- In accordance with this validity each organisation should decide if and how frequently they should re-check their employees, to ensure they are fully informed of any new information. Our default setting for DDC Clients is 3 years where there is a direct relationship with an applicant, or 2 years if the relationship is more distant i.e. such that any ‘incidents’ occurring after a check may not come to light through internal HR procedures e.g. travelling engineer.
As an organisation DDC Ltd recommend that existing Disclosures are not accepted, but the final decision remains with the employer.
Can I use the DBS Update Service to verify a Disclosure Certificate?
- The DBS Update Service was launched on the 17th June 2013 therefore any Disclosure Certificate issued before this date will not be included in the Update Service.
- Any employer can utilise the Update Service offered by the DBS to check if an update is available to a Disclosure Certificate that has been issued previously (post 17/06/2013) and the applicant has joined the service, and paid their applicable fees.
- The new employer should follow a process to assess the risks of the Update Service, to determine if they wish to use it. We strongly recommend that this decision making process is documented to show best practice has been followed.