Modernising the disclosure and barring service: Have your say (part two)

In March 2018, we told you  about an inquiry into the delayed modernisation of the Disclosure and Barring Service. A National Audit Office (NAO) report  found the aims of this modernisation have not been met and the project has faced significant delays and additional costs. One factor was that demand for the new update service has been much lower than expected and has not delivered the savings intended. The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) would now like to hear more from you changes to the update service.

What is the DBS update service?

The DBS helps employers and volunteer-involving organisations make safer recruitment decisions and prevents unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children. It largely does this through providing information on a person’s criminal record if there is a specific reason for an organisation to know this. It also makes decisions on barring people from certain types of work if there is an appropriate reason to do this.

In the past, once a DBS certificate was issued, the only way an organisation could get updated information was to submit a new check. The Update Service allows employers to check whether there are any changes to the safeguarding information on an individual’s certificate. Those making the check will be told one of the following:

  • This DBS certificate did not reveal any information and remains current as no further information has been identified since its issue.
  • This DBS certificate remains current as no further information has been identified since its issue.
  • This DBS certificate is no longer current. Please apply for a new DBS check to get the most up-to-date information.
  • The details entered do not match those held on our system. Please check and try again.

What happened at the inquiry?

The National Audit Office (NAO) report found that demand for the update service has been much lower than expected and has not delivered the savings intended. This is what led to the Public Accounts Committee inquiry and call for information. Based on your feedback, we told the inquiry about a number of issues with the update service, the key points being:

  • Making volunteers sign up for the update service as a separate step after submitting their application, is likely to reduce uptake
  • The time-frame in which people can apply for the update service after the issue of their DBS certificate is too short
  • The paper-based identification process could be modernised or moved online

This has now been discussed by the public accounts committee and the DBS is keen to work with NCVO and our members to understand how the update service can be improved.

Having your say

The DBS have been in touch and are keen to hear more from you on how the update service can be improved.

The DBS is committed to meet customer needs in the delivery of our services. In order to do this, we need to understand your requirements for the services we provide. We are starting with the update service and are keen to seek your views on why your organisation uses or does not use this service.  We would like to invite you to a focus group to help to identify any barriers/benefits to using this service along with elements of this service that we could improve.

Danielle Oakford (Stakeholder Engagement Manager at the DBS)

We’re really pleased to be able to support the DBS in running these focus groups and would like to open out the invitation to you. We’re sure that a lot of organisations will want to get involved. We will be holding a focus group specifically for charities and voluntary organisations in London on 2 July at 1.30pm. If you’d like to come along, please complete this short form to express your interest by 12 noon on Monday 18 June. After this date, we’ll look through these expressions of interest to make sure there is a good representation of organisations. If you have any questions, please do get in touch via

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Avatar photo Shaun is volunteering development manager at NCVO, overseeing strategy for volunteer management and good practice. Previously, he was head of volunteering at Samaritans and is currently a volunteer trustee of Greater London Volunteering.

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