Applicant-only certificates: why did it change?

We (DBS) understand that the introduction of the applicant-only certificate is causing disruption to some of you. This change was introduced by the Government and we (DBS) apologise if the reasons behind the change have not been clearly explained to you.

When looking at the previous criminal records system, the Government was keen to understand the difficulties that you were experiencing when using it. It commissioned reviews of the vetting and barring scheme and the criminal records regime with a view to scaling them back to common sense levels.

The reviews made a number of recommendations for change. The Government considered these and made changes to the legislation which became law in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. A number of the changes were to ensure proportionality and give the applicant greater control over the disclosure of their information.

This included the applicant-only certificate, which ended our practice of automatically sending copies of a DBS certificate to Registered/Umbrella Bodies. There are two key reasons for this change:

  • To allow an applicant to dispute, and if appropriate, have corrected any inaccurate information, or any information which should not be disclosed, before being seen by a potential employer. Incorrect information cannot be "unseen‟ once disclosed and could have a detrimental effect on applicants seeking employment or voluntary work.
  • Provides the applicant with a greater degree of control over their disclosure of information to an employer. For example, they may choose to discuss the circumstances of any criminality information directly with an employer prior to providing the certificate.

This change has been supported by strengthening the basis for the police disclosure of local information. This now ensures that the chief officer of police must have reasonable belief that this information is relevant to the purpose of the disclosure. It also provides an independent element to the resolution of disputes through the DBS Independent Monitor.

Source: DBS September 2013

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