An enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check is an important requirement for certain roles and professions involving close contact with vulnerable people like children, the elderly, or disabled adults, for example. Going through the application can seem complex to the uninitiated. This guide provides useful advice and guidance for a straightforward application process. 

Understanding Enhanced DBS Checks

An enhanced DBS check delves deeper than a standard check. It may contain relevant information from local police records considered important for some roles looking after the susceptible or impressionable. The process aims to help safeguard by vetting candidates’ suitability. 

While it may be daunting for applicants, remember that these checks simply seek to establish your suitability for such critical duties of care. They should not be feared unnecessarily if you have no concerning incidents in your past. Completing an accurate application avoids future hassles. 

Starting the Application

There are two routes to initiate an enhanced DBS check – through an approved body who employs you or may employ you, or by applying directly through the DBS. Most employers require candidates to apply through them. 

The alternative DBS route applies for specific registered roles needing self-employed status. This involves completing a DBS application form, presenting identity documents, and paying an admin fee. The completed form gets sent to DBS, verified, and a copy of the certificate sent to your registered address. 

Application Form Details

While applications vary between online and paper forms, all require:

  • Personal details: Name, date of birth, contact details. 
  • Five years address history. 
  • National Insurance Number. 
  • Details of the role requiring the check. 
  • Identity validation such as passport, driving license, birth certificate. 
  • Declaration of relevant criminal offences or convictions. 

The last section only needs disclosure of spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings held on the Police National Computer. Juvenile offences also get destroyed after time periods so do not need inclusion.

Honest Disclosure

The key to a smooth application rests with full and honest disclosure on the form. Non-disclosure can prolong an application or cause a re-check needing completion. Hence it serves applicants to diligently provide accurate information. 

Any record of offences does not necessarily negatively impact suitability decisions. Organisations consider various factors like nature of offence, circumstances, changes since, as well as the nature of the role. Appropriate contextual decision-making aims for fairness while upholding safeguarding priorities. 

Track Application Progress

Online applications allow tracking progress with updates at each stage. For paper applications, an acknowledgement gets posted on receipt, then the certificate on completion. Expect the process to take 2 to 6 weeks on average. 

Most delays stem from extra identity verification processes. Sometimes past associations generate false match results needing applicant clarification. While inconvenient, these help assure ID integrity which benefits applicants long-term. If you are concerned about the progress, contacting the DBS for a status update may help provide reassurance on typical timelines. 

Receiving the Enhanced Certificate

The completed certificate gets sent to both the applicant’s registered address and the registered body named on the application. This allows employers to ascertain vetting completion as part of pre-employment screening periods. 

If any concerning information arises during the check, the applicant gets contacted to allow the opportunity to discuss the relevance, implications or dispute any incorrect data. Principles of fairness, confidentiality and respect govern such sensitive processes. 

While intensive, the process of applying for an enhanced DBS offers helpful reassurance to employers and beneficiaries about the priority placed on responsibility of care for the vulnerable. 



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