Press release

100,000 subscribers take advantage of DBS update service

100,000 people have joined the flagship DBS update service for criminal record checks, in just 8 months.

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Update Service

Our role is to help employers make safe employment decisions, and to help protect the most vulnerable people in our communities.

We know how tight money is, and how quickly employers need to work to meet community needs. We are delighted that our new update service, which cuts red tape, and cost, for many people who need a DBS certificate to their job, has reached this milestone” said Adriènne Kelbie, the DBS Chief Executive.

People who sign up gain the advantage of being able to check online if their certificates are still valid, and don’t have to wait for a new paper certificate to start a new role.

Employers also benefit because they can check the online certificate, when and where it suits them for no extra cost, helping them make quick and safe recruitment decisions.

People who opt into the service and have no change to their criminal record may never have to apply for another full check. They pay just £13 per year instead of up to £44 per check.

The Disclosure and Barring Service’s Minister, Lord Taylor of Holbeach, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Criminal Information said:

The DBS update service is a convenient and cost-effective online service that allows employers to enhance their safeguarding processes and help protect children and vulnerable adults.

By giving people greater control of their DBS certificates, the service means that there is less bureaucracy for businesses and organisations considering the suitability of potential employees – saving both time and money.

As a result millions of employees and volunteers will no longer have to apply for a new criminal record check each time they apply for a job.

In the 8 months since the DBS update service was launched more than 81,501 status checks have been performed by employees with 72 subscribers being informed that their original certificates are no longer valid, as their status changed because of updated police information. As of 24 February there are 105,923 subscribers.

Media enquiries

Email Bruce Willan, Media Relations Manager or phone 0151 676 1814.

Email Christina McIntyre, Press Officer or phone 01325 953 539.

Notes to editors

Update service facts and figures:

The top 3 employment sectors to subscriber to the update service are: Education with 37,382, medical with 16,356 and care with 14,183. The security industry has the lowest uptake with only 67 subscribers followed by the charity/voluntary sector with 628 and commercial with 742. The largest non-registered body or umbrella organisation to use the checking service is the University of Chester.

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is a non-departmental public body (NDPB) sponsored by the Home Office. The DBS was established under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and merged with the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) on 1 December 2012. The primary role of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is to help employers in England and Wales make safer recruitment decisions. It provides services for:

  1. Disclosure – by providing criminal records and barred list checks to organisations as part of their pre- employment and management checking processes
  2. Barring – by considering referrals made by organisations when an individual suspected of causing harm to a child or vulnerable adult has left this role, voluntarily or as the result of an investigation. Certain criminal offences, known as ‘autobar offences’ also may result in an individual being added to the barred list, either for adults, for children or for both. The DBS also determines whether the information provided on certificates applied for warrants consideration for barring.


The DBS issues over 4 million DBS certificates every year. Approximately 92% of these are issued ‘clear’ ie showing no convictions, cautions, reprimands, warnings or additional information. There are three types of criminal records check, depending on the nature of the individual’s role:

  • standard criminal records check
  • enhanced criminal records check
  • enhanced criminal records check with barred list check (either adults list or children’s list or both)

The DBS does not own the data it searches and relies on the data owners e.g. the police and enforcement agencies, for the accuracy of their data .The system searched by the DBS is known as a PNC extract which is used for matching an applicant’s details against any existing criminal record.


Specialist case workers consider each case on an individual basis. A five staged decision-making process is used which is subject to rigorous quality control and monitoring. If the DBS considers that it is ‘minded to bar’ someone, the individual in qustion is given the right to make representations (in all but the most serious ‘autobar’ cases).

There is an appeals process, which can be found on the DBS website.

It is the legal duty of an employer to refer an individual to the DBS if they have removed a person from ‘regulated activity’ on the grounds that they have caused harm. The DBS must then consider whether the person poses a future risk of harm, and whether it would be appropriate and proportionate to bar the person. DBS decision-making is based on the balance of probabilities.

For more information on the work of the DBS go to:

Published 28 February 2014