FAQ: How Long Are DBS Checks Taking In 2023?

Knowing how long a DBS check will take is essential; it determines when you, or your new recruit, will be able to start work.

The different levels of DBS check vary in how long they take to complete because there are different steps and organisations involved in each. We’ll break down the differences in this post.

How Long Does A Basic Check Take?

This tends to be the quickest of all the DBS checks because it reveals the least information, and therefore the DBS can have them ready fastest.

From our experience as a DBS Umbrella Body, we estimate that the vast majority of Basic checks are completed within 48 hours of being sent for processing. We even see some completed in less than an hour. Allow a few days for postage, and that’s how long Basic checks are taking in 2023.

Update from the DBS:
On the 13th of October 2023, the DBS sent us their official processing time data. This year, the average Basic DBS check was completed in 1.3 days, before being posted.

FAQ: How Long Are DBS Checks Taking In 2023?

How Long Does A Standard Check Take?

Because Standard checks involve disclosing more information, it naturally takes longer than a basic check even though the internal processes are similar.

The majority of Standard checks are completed within 3 days of being sent for processing, and will then be posted out to the applicant.

Update from the DBS:
On the 13th of October 2023, the DBS sent us their official processing time data. This year, the average Standard DBS check was completed in 1.5 days, before being posted.

How Long Does An Enhanced Check Take?

Enhanced checks vary greatly in the length of time taken to be completed.

The majority are completed within 7-10 days (plus postage) but sometimes they can take much longer.

This is because Enhanced checks require all branches of the UK police whose jurisdiction the applicant’s 5-year address history falls under to conduct their own record checks. (Click here to read more about the local police information included on Enhanced checks).

If just one police force experiences delays, the whole check grinds to a halt. In this case, the only option is to wait, as it is only possible to request an escalation after it has been stuck for 60 days – although it may be processed as normal within that period. We’ve prepared a guide for this scenario, which you can read here.

Update from the DBS:
On the 13th of October 2023, the DBS sent us their official processing time data. This year, the average Enhanced DBS check was completed in 11.8 days, before being posted.

How Long Do Adult First Checks Take?

Adult First checks are available for healthcare workers, and are used in situations where the employer cannot afford to wait for an Enhanced DBS check to be returned – they need staff quickly. Adult First checks must be requested alongside an Enhanced DBS check.

Adult First checks are guaranteed to be completed within 24-48 hours, and the results are sent to the employer digitally, eliminating postage time.

Once the Adult First result arrives (and is clear), the applicant can start working under supervision. However, the employer still needs to see the Enhanced check that was requested alongside the Adult First once it arrives by post (usually within 7-14 days).

Click here to read more about Adult First DBS checks.

Factors That Affect Processing Time

Busy Police Forces
The root cause of the majority of DBS check delays lies with the local police forces. Like we mentioned, all it takes is one busy police force and the whole application comes to a standstill.

Update from the DBS:
On the 13th of October 2023, the DBS sent us their official processing time data. We have been informed that 6 forces (Derbyshire, Dyfed-Powys, Hampshire, Kent, North Yorkshire, and Sussex) are experiencing delays. These forces represent 13% of all Enhanced DBS checks.

These delays are expected to be remedied by the first quarter of 2024.

Previous Addresses
If an applicant has had a lot of previous addresses, this can increase the chances of delays because it can mean more different forces are involved.

Common Names
Applicants with common names are more likely to experience delays. This is because the DBS must take extra steps and precautions to ensure that there are no mix-ups between David Smith, the law-abiding citizen and David Smith, the axe-murderer (for example).

Application Mistakes
Incorrect information on an applicant’s form will often cause delays. If the DBS spots a discrepancy between an ongoing application and a previous one, they will halt the check and inform the Umbrella Body that an explanation is required – then, the Umbrella Body has to get in touch with the employer & applicant to resolve the query.

As you can imagine, this is going to cause some serious DBS delays, and if the mistake is confirmed, the application will be rejected outright by the DBS with no refund.

Fast DBS checks by Aaron’s Department

If you’re fed up with your DBS checks taking too long, there’s usually nothing you can do about it. However, here at Aaron’s Department, there is one big thing we do to help:

Every DBS application we receive before 4:00pm on a weekday, we process the very same day – no extra charge.

It’s our fast-track guarantee, and we’re proud of it. A lot of other Umbrella Bodies charge extra for this service, but that’s just not on.

If you’d like to learn more about us and our services, have a browse of the website, or feel free to get in touch at contact@aaronsdepartment.com – we’ll get right back to you.

FAQ: How Long Are DBS Checks Taking In 2023?

About The Author

Matthew Dugdale

Matthew is our go-to when it comes to all things related to Recruitment & DBS checks. His experience and expertise helps make sure that everyone gets the correct level of check.

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