AOP affinity partner

”DBS currently processes nearly six million enhanced checks”

Rachel Bedgood, lead signatory at Complete Background Screening, tells OT  the updates members can expect to see in background checking services

Pexels/Ethan Wilkinson

Complete Background Screening (CBS) has partnered with the AOP for many years, enjoying a very successful and fruitful relationship. Through our partnership, we have been able to offer members a standardised and streamlined background checking process that is user friendly, and the feedback we receive from members is always super positive. To put it briefly, we really love our partnership and members seem to rate CBS too.

There have been a lot of updates regarding the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) in recent months, particularly in light of the pandemic. Like almost every area of society, COVID-19 had an impact on DBS and background checks in recruitment. Completion times were slightly longer as there simply wasn’t the staff or resources to complete checks and processes. In addition, there were delays within the DBS and with its partners, such as the local police forces.

This could have had a detrimental impact on recruiting to front line positions to fight COVID-19. However, if applicants were contributing to the pandemic support efforts in some way, the DBS introduced a fast-tracking service allowing them to be processed free of charge. This fast-track service also offered a check against the child and adult barred lists within 24 hours. As you can imagine, the introduction of this fast-track service has been hugely beneficial. We at CBS have loved supporting organisations to recruit more quickly, helping the healthcare sector rapidly screen individuals and place them into the frontline roles that were required at the height of the pandemic.

Changes in checking

As life has begun to settle down, there has been a bit more breathing space, meaning the DBS has begun to introduce some new ideas and changes.

Firstly, with government approval, the DBS are reducing the costs of checks from 6 April.

Previously, basic and standard DBS checks were charged at £23 respectively, and enhanced DBS checks were charged at £40. However, when the reduction in price takes effect, basic and standard DBS checks will reduce to £18, with enhanced checks costing £38.

It may only a couple of pounds less for the enhanced level disclosures – the check required to be on the NHS Performers List – but a cost saving is a cost saving.

The DBS also intends to introduce digital ID checking from April which is going to be a mini revolution for people who process high volumes of DBS checks. For many businesses, ID checking can feel like a labour-intensive and lengthy process, not only for the employer or organisation, but for the employee too. This is going to significantly streamline and improve the process!

With the digital ID offering in place, employees will see a much quicker and smarter way to verify their ID. They will no longer need to meet with anyone face-to-face, meaning DBS applications can be submitted much faster. This will mean quicker submissions and quicker turnaround times. From an employer’s point of view, this can save time and money which is always a positive. It also takes away the pressures of the process and the potential margins of error when checking a person’s ID manually.

We listen, learn, and make sure the journey is as pleasant, easy, and as quick as it can be for the applicant


Checks increasing

Employment was on the rise throughout 2021, particularly in the healthcare sector, and the volume of DBS checks processed continues to increase year-on-year. The DBS currently processes nearly six million enhanced checks alone.

Most AOP members we see opt for the enhanced level disclosures with barred list checks, and some employers might also decide to run additional checks. Here at CBS, we are a background screening house with a global reach. As such, we can undertake international criminal checks, Right to Work checks and employment screening to determine everything from permission to work in the UK right through to whether or not an applicant’s qualifications are valid.

Very often employing candidates can be quite a long and drawn-out process, but when wrong decisions are made it becomes very expensive to resolve this later. CBS is able to partner with you throughout the process, guiding you to get the right people into the right roles; quickly.

Within optometry, we see a large volume of individuals opt to subscribe to the Update Service, meaning they potentially have a portable DBS check and won’t need to undertake multiple checks. This has been a popular choice for AOP members and one we encourage as a productive and logical approach.

The Update Service was born from a Home Office enquiry that showed that 80% of DBS checks are paid for by the public purse. There were individuals who might work in the same type of role in different setting, but they were still subjected to multiple criminal checks. For example, somebody could be a teacher during the week, and also a football coach and Scout leader in their spare time. The cross-over in roles meant that checks were duplicated for similar roles, wasting time, money and resource.

The Home Office decided to create portability, so a person working in similar environments has the ability to move that DBS between organisations. Using the DBS Update service can mean that a DBS check isn’t just ‘for Christmas,’ but could potentially be for life. It allows us and employers to determine if a person’s criminal record has changed, notifying relevant parties should any change occur.

Without this service, organisations are exposed, risking an issue arising for an individual following on from their check and therefore not being flagged. This perceived flaw within the DBS system previously meant that, in theory, the criminal certificate was only valid on the day it was issued. However, those signed up to the Update Service can give their employer or organisation continued peace of mind.