This page of our website will provides guidance in helping you understanding DBS processes and provides the latest guidance received from the DBS together with useful links for more detailed information, we hope you find this information useful.


Adult First Checks

This is a service provided by the DBS under the Police Act 1997. It can be used in exceptional cases where a person is permitted to start regulated activity work with adults, before a DBS certificate has been obtained. This service is only available to organisations who are eligible to access the DBS adults’ barred list and who have requested a check of the barred list on their DBS application. The DBS Adult First check allows an individual to be checked against the DBS adults’ barred list ahead of the Disclosure certificate being issued. A preliminary result is sent to the Registered Body who submitted the application, we then forward this information on to the ID checker via the notes system via DBS Assist.

If your original application did not request an Adult First Check, we can arrange for this to be carried out at a later date, but prior to the certificate issue.  Please contact us to discuss your requirements.

Applications received from organisations and countersigned by the ARC Disclosure Service team can only be escalated (raised as a delayed/outstanding application) 60 working days from the date of countersigning/submitting to the DBS.

When an application is 'escalated' this will be raised with the relevant Police Force who are responsible for administering the level of check, including making a decision to prioritise a check or completing an escalation request.  When a check is sent to the police there is a negotiated Service Level Agreement (SLA) in place with the police which allows them 60 days to receive, review and respond to the request.  If at any point they return the check to the DBS for confirmation of any of the information provided to them ie. as a 'conflict', the DBS will investigate and then return the check to the police.  At present this action re-sets the 60 day clock back to zero and the police have a further 60 days.

There are a number of factors that can affect the timely completion of checks, including but not restricted to, the accurate completion of the application, the clarity of the information provided, the existence of conviction or non-conviction information and the operational effectiveness of the Disclosure Units at the police forces involved in the Enhanced Disclosure process.  If the applicant has provided all the mandatory information, then a completion of the initial stages of the check is done within a matter of days.

The DBS updated the Identity (ID) checking guidelines for Basic, Standard and Enhanced checks in December 2018.  The old rules can no longer be used.

The following information details some of the changes:

Checking by Video: A live video link can now be used as an alternative to face-to-face examination of identity documents.  However, it is important to note that the person carrying out the identity checks must be in possession of the original documents.  Should you choose to carry out ID checks in this way, any risks identified when using live video must be assessed and mitigated by you. You must not rely on the inspection of the documents via a live video link or by checking a faxed or scanned copy of the document.

Irish Passport Card: An Irish Passport Card has been added to Group 2b.  However, please note it cannot be used with an Irish passport.

New documents available for Non European Economic Area applicants:

The following can now be used:

  • A Permanent Residence Card issued by the Home Office to the family member of a national of a European Economic Area country or Switzerland
  • A Positive Verification Notice issued by the Home Office Employer Checking Service to the employer or prospective employer, which indicates that the named person may stay in the UK and is permitted to do the work in question

Changes to requirements:

A Passport is no longer required as an additional item for the following 3 documents:

  • A current Residence Card (including an Accession Residence Card or a Derivative Residence Card) issued by the Home Office to a non-European Economic Area national who is a family member of a national of a European Economic Area country or Switzerland or who has a derivative right of residence.
  • A current Immigration Status Document containing a photograph issued by the Home Office to the holder with a valid endorsement indicating that the named person may stay in the UK, and is allowed to do the type of work in question, together with an official document giving the person’s permanent National Insurance number and their name issued by a Government agency or a previous employer.
  • A current Immigration Status Document issued by the Home Office to the holder with an endorsement indicating that the named person is allowed to stay indefinitely in the UK or has no time limit on their stay in the UK, together with an official document giving the person’s permanent National Insurance number and their name issued by a Government agency or a previous employer.

The new ID checking information is available on the DBS website or ID checking guidelines

Volunteer Applications:

The DBS definition of a volunteer is defined in the Police Act 1997 (criminal records) Regulations 2002 as:

“Any person engaged in an activity which involves spending time, unpaid (except for travel and other approved out-of-pocket expenses), doing something which aims to benefit some third party and not a close relative.”

To qualify for a free-of-charge criminal record check, the applicant must not benefit directly from the position the DBS application is being submitted for. The applicant must not:

  • benefit directly from the position for which the DBS application is being submitted
  • receive any payment (except for travel and other approved out-of-pocket expenses)
  • be on a work placement
  • be on a course that requires them to do this job role
  • be in a trainee position that will lead to a full-time role/qualification

An example of an ineligible volunteer role is ….

Medical/teaching/social work student on work placement, as part of training – this activity is a mandatory course requirement, is usually paid and is primarily undertaken to benefit the student.

Volunteer guidance from the DBS

To enable your applications to be processed faster, here are a few areas that will speed up your application:

  • workforce selected is incorrect
  • if a barring list is requested please make sure it is for the appropriate workforce
  • other forename(s) not completed - you must make sure that all forenames are included on the application
  • surnames - dates of previous surnames should not overlap
  • job titles not sufficient i.e. an application cannot be processed with just the title 'Volunteer' please state type of role the volunteer will be undertaking - please refer to the definition of 'volunteer' roles above.
  • Ms is entered in the title field - the system will recognise this as the applicant having a change of surname and ask for further information.  If the applicant has not had a change of name please enter name at date of birth and include the birth date from birth to the date of the application
  • first line of the applicants address needs to show the house number and the name of the road, do not enter these details on the 1st and 2nd line of the address fields
  • Post Code - entered in capitals and a space is included in the post code - ie S40 1JY
  • Driving licence details must be entered exactly as the driving licence number, some problems occur when the applicant has not entered a middle name/s on the application, but a middle name is shown on the driving licence number.

Here are a number of useful resources for employers using the ARC Disclosure Service for DBS checks (England and Wales)

Privacy Policies - DBS:

You can access all the DBS Privacy Policies here - DBS Privacy Policies

Guides for Employers:

Nacro has a publication 'Recruiting safely and fairly - a practical guide to employing ex-offenders'.  The practical guide is aimed at employers and recruiters of paid or voluntary staff to help them to understand their legal rights and responsibilities and good practice when employing staff with criminal records.  The guide outlines how to implement fair, safe and responsible policies and practices for employing ex-offenders, based upon a full understanding and assessment of risks involved.

If you have an employee who needs to complete a paper application, or they do not have access to a computer and the application is being completed by the employer in the presence of the employee, you must ask them to read the DBS Applicant Consent - Paper Applications - Aug 18 v1.1 form and sign to authorise the use of their personal data.

CQC Guidance - Disclosure and Barring Service checks v6

DBS Standard Eligibility Guidance

DBS Code of Practice - November 2015

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974

Policy templates for ex-offenders (English & Welsh)

Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006

SVGA Amended Schedule 4 - Parts 2 & 3

Barring Referral Guidance

DBS Reprint Guidance

DBS Guidance Leaflets

Regulated Activity - Children:

DBS Child Workforce Guidance

DBS Checks for Childcare Providers

Regulated activity in relation to children: Scope

Early Years Childcare

Regulated Activity - Adults:

DBS Adult Workforce Guidance

Regulated Activity - Adults - POFA 2012


Home Based Guidance:

DBS Home Based Position Flowchart

DBS Home Based Position Guidance

Volunteer Role Guidance:

Volunteer Roles DBS Guidance

Other Workforce Guidance:

DBS Other Workforce Guidance

ID checking guidance:

ID Checking Guidelines from 3rd September 2018

Documents Applicants need for ID

You can also find more information on the GOV.UK website page Guidance for Employers

The information provided on this website is for information purposes only. This information is only valid on the day of publication and does not constitute legal, professional, or commercial advice. Whilst every care has been taken to ensure that the content is up to date, useful and accurate, Association for Real Change gives no guarantees, undertakings, or warranties in this regard, or, for any loss or damage caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with reliance on the use of such information.