Complaints procedure

As part of our commitment to provide a high standard of customer service we welcome all comments or suggestions on how we might improve our service.

Complaints charter

The DBS aim to apply the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman principles of good administration which outline the approach to good customer service, and how to help customers when things go wrong.

If you have an enquiry or would like to discuss a complaint we may be able to resolve the matter swiftly and informally. Please call us:

  • 03000 200 190 for disclosure complaints*
  • 01325 953 795 for barring complaints

*All calls to the DBS on this number are recorded for training and security purposes.

How to make a complaint

If you’re unhappy with the way which we have dealt with you, please contact us by email, fax, or letter setting out what has gone wrong and what you would like us to do to put it right.

To help us investigate your complaint please provide:

  • full details of what has caused you to make a complaint
  • how you would like us to resolve your complaint
  • your full name, address and postcode
  • your customer reference number
  • your phone/email contact details

You may wish to use the DBS complaint form (MS Word Document, 55KB)

Please address your complaint to customer relations:

We can’t guarantee the security of information until it is in our possession, and cannot take responsibility for such information until we receive it.

When can you expect a response to your complaint

Your complaint will be handled by our dedicated customer relations advisors who will:

  • acknowledge your complaint within 3 working days of receipt
  • speak to you in person if appropriate to help clarify any details
  • deal with you in a polite, courteous manner and act confidentially
  • investigate your complaint thoroughly and put any mistakes right quickly
  • aim to provide you with a satisfactory response within 10 working days
  • endeavour to provide you with a satisfactory resolution

In the event that we cannot meet this target, we will contact you to explain why, and agree a timescale with you, keeping you informed of progress.

Please be aware that some issues may be outside our control and as a result we may not always be able to resolve your complaint to your complete satisfaction. However we will always explain why this may be the case and provide the best resolution possible.

What to do if you’re not satisfied with the response

We will always aim to provide a satisfactory response following the initial contact from a customer. For customers who are not satisfied with the response the DBS has given, the complaint policy (PDF, 317KB, 21 pages) has an internal staged escalation route to follow.

Stage 1 - Director of Operations review

If you are not satisfied with the reply you have received from the Customer Relations Manager, you can request the Director of Operations to review the response you have received.

Stage 2 - Chief Executive review

If you are not satisfied with the reply you have received from the Director of Operations, you can request the Chief Executive to review the response you have received.

Please address your escalated complaint to the correct stage and submit full details in writing about why you are not satisfied with earlier responses:

We cannot guarantee the security of information until it is in our possession, and will not take responsibility for such information until we receive it.

We will acknowledge your request to review within 3 working days to and advise you of when you should expect a response.

Please note a review by the Director of Operations or the Chief Executive, can take up to 20 working days so that a thorough investigation can take place.

If you remain dissatisfied

If you have completed our internal complaints escalation process and you are not satisfied with the final response from the Chief Executive, you can ask for your complaint to be reviewed by the Independent Complaint Reviewer (ICR).

The ICR will normally only investigate a complaint if the DBS has been given the opportunity to resolve the matter via its internal escalation process and you have received a final response from the DBS Chief Executive.

The ICR is independent and impartial, the service is free, and you can contact the ICR office:

  • by email: icr@dbs.gsi.gov.uk
  • by post: Independent Complaint Reviewer, PO Box 165, Liverpool; L69 3JD

We can’t guarantee the security of information until it is in our possession, and will not take responsibility for such information until we receive it.

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

If you remain unhappy you can contact your Member of Parliament and ask them to refer your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. The ombudsman would normally expect you to have had your complaint reviewed by the ICR. The ombudsman is independent and impartial, and the service is free, and you can contact the ombudsman:

  • by email: phso.enquiries@ombudsman.org.uk
  • by phone: 0345 015 4033
  • by post: Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, Millbank Tower, Millbank, London,SW1P 4QP

Barring decision appeals and DBS certificate disputes

We have separate processes for those who wish to make a barring decision appeal or raise a DBS certificate dispute.

Complaints about the DBS Welsh language service

If you are unhappy with the Welsh service you have received, you should in the first instance make a complaint to the DBS following the above stages.

However, if you remain dissatisfied with the final response from the Chief Executive you can take your complaint to the Welsh Language Commissioner and they will investigate on your behalf.

Unreasonably persistent and unacceptable behaviour policy

DBS staff will respond to all customer complaints professionally, respectfully and sympathetically.

Where a customer raises a complaint with us, they have a right to expect to be dealt with fairly and impartially, and to receive a response which fully addresses their concerns in a timely manner.

When dealing with customers, we do not normally limit the contact they have with us. However, our staff should not be expected to tolerate abusive, threatening or offensive behaviour. Similarly, we should not be expected to deal with someone who, because of the frequency of their contact, places a strain on time and resources, and causes undue stress for staff.

Whilst we hope that we never have to use the unreasonable behaviour policy (PDF, 93.7KB, 5 pages) , there may be times when there is nothing further that can reasonably be done to assist a customer or resolve their complaint. In such circumstances, we recognise that there are occasions, although rare, when certain investigations should be drawn to a close, if there is no reasonable way of resolving the situation to everyone’s satisfaction.