DBS update service for safer recruitment


The Disclosure and Barring Service launched the update service on 17th June 2013 to put candidates in greater control of their information.

The update service is an online subscription that allows candidates to keep their standard or enhanced DBS certificate up to date and enables employers to check a certificate online. At the moment, the update service is not available for basic checks.

Candidates can join the update service for standard and enhanced checks as soon as they have their application form reference number. Alternatively, they can join the update service with their certificate number within 30 days of the issue date which is printed on the certificate. Registration for the update service costs £13 per annum and there’s no charge for candidates with a volunteer DBS certificate. A subscription to the update service lasts for a year, however, it can be renewed. Candidates can choose automatic renewal at the time of subscription or they can renew it online up to 30 days before their current subscription ends.

There is no registration process or fee for employers to check an updated DBS certificate online. However, they must be legally entitled to carry out a check and have the applicant’s permission.

The DBS update service is getting more and more popular – between April 2017 and September 2017 an average of 40,000* people signed up to the update service per month. By September 2017 more than 1.5 million* people owned an updated DBS certificate. The number of status checks performed by employers shows exponential growth, too, in September 2017 employers performed more than 270,000* status checks.

Some organisations such as Ofsted and several NHS Trusts have already made the update service mandatory, while other employers strongly suggest their candidates to register their certificates. While subscription to the update service is still voluntary for many organisations, its success is, in the main, reliant on employers raising awareness of the benefits and encouraging subscription as part of their recruitment process.

*These numbers are based on the statistics published by the DBS on 10th January 2018 https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/dbs-dataset-1-disclosure-progress-information-disclosed-and-update-service-subscriptions#history 

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