How Long Does a DBS Check Take? (Your Quick 2022 Guide)

how long does a dbs check take

At Aaron’s Department, our online system is connected directly to the UK Government’s Gateway, resulting in DBS certificates being dispatched quickly, in some cases within 1 hour of the DBS being submitted, although the majority are received after a few days. But in general, how long does a DBS check take?

Well, there can be a small percentage of DBS checks that could take longer if there is a barrier in the way of completion.

Possible barriers can include:

  • Multiple entries being found in police databases for a similar or the same name.
  • An application is forwarded to multiple police forces.
  • Requests for extra clarification from the candidate are required.

We find that the longest delays are caused at Stage 4.

At this stage, the application is passed to the local police force for each address that the applicant has lived at within their 5-year (or more) history, or to a Police force where information has been possibly identified as belonging to the applicant.

When an applicant has moved around multiple Police force areas in the UK in the last 5 years, the application will need to be passed to each of them.

Where the police need to re-validate the identity of the applicant to say precisely whether the information they have belongs to an applicant or not, the Police force in question could request a fingerprint check, or request copies of the applicant’s main ID documents, which can cause a delay in the process.

The Most Common Delays In A DBS Check

There can be many reasons that can cause a DBS check to take longer, and here are some of the most common reasons for delays:

Paper Applications Take Longer

Sometimes the old ways are the best ways, but not if you want a fast DBS check!

Paper applications are likelier to take longer than online applications because:

  • They have to be posted to the applicant, then back to Umbrella Body. This can easily add an extra 4 to 7 days to the application time.
  • If there are any mistakes from the applicant, the form will have to be sent back to them, again!
  • We all know that post can get lost in the mail – how long do you wait until you decide to fill out another form?

Form Errors

It’s always important for both the applicant and employer to carefully check all the details submitted on the form. If any errors are discovered by the Umbrella Body, then the form will have to be amended, eating up more time.

However, if there are any errors that only the applicant would be able to spot (and they don’t), then the application may be rejected by the DBS, meaning the whole process must start again.

Stage 4

Arguably the most common cause of Enhanced DBS delays, when the application reaches Stage 4, the Local Police Record Check!

This most commonly occurs when the applicant has lived at numerous addresses across England and Wales, as each Police Force local to each address must do a check.

Police Forces

As soon as the Police Force receives the check application, there is no guarantee of how quickly they will complete the check. These turnarounds can be dependent on various factors, such as how many requests the particular Police Force has.

If you would like to see a summary of the average turnarounds from the Police Force, you can do here.

How To Get DBS Checks Returned Faster

As both an employer and an individual, getting your DBS check returned quickly is very important, and below are some ways you can help ensure this happens!

Do You DBS Application Online

When you do an DBS application online, it can be filled out and sent off in just a few clicks – much better than sending it in the post. On top of this, any mistakes can be easily pointed out and changed, without all the scribbling out.

As an officially registered Umbrella Body, we are also connected directly to the UK Government Gateway, meaning we are literally only a click away from sending it off to them when you send it to us!

Use An Umbrella Body That Processes Your Application The Same Day

Many DBS Umbrella Bodies can take up to 5 days until they process and send off the DBS application – some will even charge a premium for prioritising the check!

At Aaron’s Department, we guarantee to submit every application we receive (before 4pm) the same day, because we know how import receiving the results quickly is. Of course, this is assuming that there are no errors that we need to get in contact with you about!

Double-Check The Application

Spending an extra minute or two going over the application could end up saving a lot of time!

Whilst our system does have an in-built error checker, and our team will double-check, there are only some errors the applicant or employer can identify, such as the work being undertaken and previous address history.

No DBS Umbrella Body Can Guarantee Checks To Be Returned In A Certain Time-Frame

It’s important to remember that no DBS Umbrella Body can 100% guarantee to get your DBS check returned in a certain period of time.

This is because once the application has been processed and sent off to the DBS, it is out of their hands. Now the check return-time is totally dependent on how busy the DBS is, the accuracy of the information, and other previously mentioned factors.

However, it is possible to speed up the application process!

For example, we have designed our application system with the user in mind, meaning there is automatic error checking, easy to understand instructions, and on top of this, as mentioned, we ensure every DBS application we receive is sent off the same day, when received by 4pm.

To read more about how our online DBS system can help save you time (and money!), you can visit our Benefits of Aaron’s Department’s Online DBS Service page.

Types of DBS Checks

Standard DBS Check

Primarily for the position of accountancy, finance, security and court roles, it also can be requested for certain duties or jobs within hospital or prisons.

This check is for positions of high responsibility, and in most cases will be for those who’s work or jobs are regulated by a governing body, for example: Charted Accountants, finacial advisers or for those who are goverened by the SIA (Security Industry Authority).

Other roles eligible for a Standard include certain duties or work within prisons or hospitals indirectly with vulnerable adults or children with limited contact, who are in care or under supervision (eg. Staff/volunteers working in an NHS setting who don’t work in heathcare but who do have access to patient records and has limited contact with those in care, or certain prison roles which involve the running of the prison who do not work directly with the detainees).

The Standard DBS reveals spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings.

Enhanced DBS Check

This reveals spent, and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands, final warnings and local police held relevant information.

The application process takes longer than a standard DBS check to be completed and is only available for specific duties, positions and licences included in both the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions Order 1975) and the Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) regulations. For example, regularly caring for, training, supervising or being solely in charge of children or carrying out specified activities with vulnerable adults such as health care or social care services.

Enhanced with Barred List Check

This check is the same as Enhanced DBS check, but includes a check against appropriate DBS Barred Lists (for those who are working in certain regulated roles or duties with vulnerable Adults and/or Children).

What is an Adult First Check?

Employers requesting a check for a candidate on the DBS Adults’ Barred list have an additional option of applying for an Adult First check. If candidates pass this check, they are only allowed to work in a supervised role, until their full certificate is returned.

An example would be a Nursing Home providing care services to vulnerable adults. Adult First requests are only allowed if an application meets the following strict criteria:

  • The position must require a criminal record check by law.
  • The position must be eligible for access to the DBS Adults’ Barred list (i.e: they will be working in regulated activity with vulnerable adults).
  • The organisation must have requested a check of the DBS Adults’ Barred list on the DBS application form.

A reply to the Adult First check is received in less than two days and will say that, the registered body must wait for the DBS certificate, or that no match exists for this person on the Adults’ Barred list check.

If the DBS adult first check indicates that the employer must wait for the DBS certificate, the details provided may have indicated a match on the DBS adults’ barred list, and further investigation is required to confirm whether this is the case. Alternatively, the check will state that no match exists for the individual on the adults’ barred list and the applicant can be permitted to start work, under supervision only, with vulnerable adults before a DBS certificate has been obtained.

Please Note: If an Adult First check could not be compelted or it says please await the certificate, we suggest waiting until the full certificate is returned, before rejecting a candidate. This is because there may have been multiple people with similar names, surnames, the DBS certificate was completed quickly or there was an error with the main DBS office preventing it from being completed on time.

Who Does the DBS Work With?

The DBS checking process is mainly done by the Police. They find information that held locally or on the Police National Computer. When disclosing information, the Police follow a framework that has been developed by The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) (formerly the Association of Chief Police Officers) and the DBS.

The DBS also work with:

  • The Home Office (sponsor the DBS).
  • The Department for Education (owns the safeguarding policy for children).
  • The Department of Health (owns the safeguarding policy for vulnerable groups).

If you have other questions about anything relating to DBS checks, we have a full page on help and guidance, so the answer to your question may be there.

How Long Does a DBS Check Take? The DBS Checking Process Explained

Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of a DBS checking process? We’ll tell you!

  • Step 1: The DBS Application is Received

    When the DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) receive an application, they will check for any errors or omissions. If any are found, it is returned to our Countersignatories, however, as we put the utmost care into our work, this is very unlikely to happen. It may also be returned if the DBS has any questions or clarifications regarding the DBS form.

  • Step 2: The DBS Application is Received

    The applicant’s data is compared against details held on the Police National Computer, identifying possible matches.

  • Step 3: Children’s and Adult’s Barred List Search (If Required)

    If eligible for the applicants’ role, the Children’s and Adult’s Barred List check will be searched. This will tell you whether the individual is allowed to work with Children/Vulnerable Adults.

  • Step 4: (Only for Enhanced Checks) Local Police Record Check

    At this stage, the form is sent securely to any relevant local police forces for a check against their local records.

  • Step 5: The DBS Certificate is Printed!

    Once all the information has been found and checked, the DBS certificate is ready. All the information that is disclosed is printed under highly secure procedures and then posted to the applicant’s address. Only the applicant can reveal the information contained on the DBS certificate. However, our online system is able to tell you the result of the DBS check: whether it came back clean, or if you should wait to see the information on the certificate.

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