What is the DBS Update Service?

July 1st, 2013 by Jonathan Bazely

The DBS Update Service was launched by the Disclosure and Barring Service on 17th June 2013. An applicant must join the service and pay an annual subscription fee direct to the DBS.* Once joined the applicant can potentially re-use a Disclosure Certificate by giving permission to a new employer to check online that the document is still current, or if additional information has been added since it’s issue. There is no requirement for an employer to accept a previous Certificate on the DBS Update Service, and each organisation should assess the risks before making their decision.

The information provided by the online DBS Update Service Check will not confirm the information shown on the Certificate (the only way to view this is by looking at the Original Certificate presented by the applicant) but will return one of 4 results:

The Results of an Update Service Check:

  1. This Certificate did not reveal any information and remains current as no further information has been identified since its issue – The certificate when issued was blank and no new information has been found since its issue.
  2. This Certificate remains current as no further information has been identified since its issue – the Certificate revealed information about the person and no new information has been found since its issue.
  3. This Certificate is no longer current. Please apply for a new DBS check to get the most up-to-date information – new information has come to light since the Certificate was issued and they will need to apply for a new DBS check to see this information.
  4. The details entered do not match those held on our system. Please check and try again – this means either the individual has not subscribed to the Update Service; or the Certificate has been removed from the Update Service by the individual; or the employer has not entered the correct information.

Running an Update Service Check:

Any organisation looking to take advantage of the DBS Update Service should make arrangements to ensure that:

  • The Certificate belongs to the Employee (ID Checks)
  • The Certificate is genuine (Document Security Checks)
  • The Certificate is at the correct level (Standard/Enhanced)
  • The Certificate checks the correct information (Vetting and Barring Lists, plus Workforce descriptions)
  • The volunteer status is the same as would be required
  • The ‘working at home’ status is the same as would be required
  • The individual has given their consent for the Update Service Check

Once this information has been confirmed the employer can check online to see if that Certificate has changed since it was issued, with the results returned as above. For more information on how to do this please go to www.gov.uk/dbs

If an employer takes action based upon Certificate information that they are not eligible to view, they would be in breach of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. Please note that applicants can only join the DBS Update Service when they next complete a DBS application therefore any Disclosures issued before the 17th June 2013 would not be included in the DBS Update Service.

Risk Assessment process:

Each employer should follow an internal risk assessment process to fully understand the Update Service and ensure that it is suitable for the organisation. Some of the points that we recommend reviewing include:

  • Ensure that any recheck policy in place is consistent for all employees.
  • Ensure that information obtained/recorded meets with internal policies of the organisation, and does not breech the Data Protection Act/ Protection of Freedoms Act.
  • Ensure mechanisms are in place that accurately record the process followed, to ensure compliance under the current Update Service guidelines.
  • Ensure staff members are aware of your policies or any change in policies that arise due to the inclusion of the Update Service.
  • Seek/review guidance from any industry specific bodies (e.g. CQC) to ensure they endorse the use of the Update Service.
  • The Original Certificate was requested by a third party carrying out a set process for completing the application form and checking the ID of the applicant. By accepting an Existing Certificate the Employer is accepting that this process was completed diligently.
  • The DBS will be made aware of the Police National Computer details every 7 days and will update the ‘Approved Additional Information’ every 9 months.
  • An applicant can remove a Certificate from the Update Service, or cancel their subscription at any point. The DBS are not able to confirm why a Certificate has been removed from the service, or discuss this with an employer or Registered Body.
  • Home Based roles will not confirm any third party risks when using the Update Service.

*For applications that are processed as volunteers this service is free.

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