Business Law: Julian Outen explains forthcoming changes affecting criminal record checks

Julian Outen, Ashton KCJ

Julian Outen, Ashton KCJ - Credit: Archant

On December 1, 2012, a new body, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), was created out of a merger of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority.

Existing CRB application forms could still be used until March 28 of this year but now only DBS application forms will be processed. CRB Certificates that had already been issued remain valid. Certificates are now issued only to the individuals on whom the check was carried out, not the organisation which requested the check.

In conjunction with this, the DBS is launching an “update service” on June 17, 2013 which enables individuals to subscribe for an annual fee, currently set at £13 (free for volunteers), to keep their criminal record certificates up to date. The idea behind this is that the DBS will regularly search for any changes to the information on a DBS Certificate and update the status. The frequency of the search will depend on the level of certificate and the work type.

Individual subscribers will be able to take DBS Certificates with them from role to role, provided the same level and type of check are required. This could negate the need for employers to fill out full DBS application forms for most employees, saving time and administration. With an individual’s permission, an employer will be able to check online whether there has been a change to the DBS Certificate and they will not incur any cost for doing this. Employers will need to require individuals to produce their original certificate at the outset.

It is hoped that this new system will help speed up the recruitment process, as well as enhancing the safeguarding process. Employers can benefit from the free online status checks rather than having to make a new application each time they need to check an individual. In addition, individuals will have greater control over their own data by being given the ability to challenge the contents of their certificates before they are released to third parties.


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It is not obligatory for individuals to become subscribers but it is open to employers to make it a condition of employment that they do so. Detailed guidance for employers is available in a new free online publication at www.gov.uk/government/publications/DBS-update-service-employer-guide .

: : This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice. We would advise you to seek professional advice before acting on this information. Ashton KCJ is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (Recognised Body number 45826).

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: : Julian Outen is a partner at Ashton KCJ Solicitors.

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