Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner to ask questions at a national level about DBS checks

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
The Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner is to ask questions at a national level about the funding provided to forces to carry out DBS checks.

The issue was discussed by Katy Bourne and Deputy Chief Constable Dave McLaren during a performance & accountability meeting on Friday (May 17).

Disclosure and barring checks (DBS) are carried out by police at the request of employers and charities to check the criminal records of people applying for jobs or wishing to volunteer.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

According to the government’s website, such checks should take around 14 days.

Katy Bourne | Picture: Jon RigbyKaty Bourne | Picture: Jon Rigby
Katy Bourne | Picture: Jon Rigby

In December, Sussex Police had more than 7,600 checks outstanding, 40% of which were more than 60 days old.

While it was recognised at the time that it would take several months for things to improve, they have since become worse.

While the average turnaround time dropped to 45 days as of May 6, there are now 8,541 checks outstanding.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Of those, 849 are more than 100 days old, 3,500 are more than 60 days old and 2,700 are more than 25 days old.

Mrs Bourne said her office had received 31 emails since January – most from people unable to get a job or volunteer as a result of the delays.

She said: “These delays are having a detrimental impact on both the applicants and employers and they continue to remain a cause of concern for me and for members of the public who contact me.”

The government funds the checks based on the estimated number of requests each force will receive.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr McLaren said that figure had been under-estimated for the past three years.

In the last year alone, Sussex Police processed 47,000 requests – 1,500 more than was anticipated.

This equates to an extra eight months of work for a case-worker.

Mr McLaren said: “It does have a significant impact on our ability to turn this around quickly.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

While the force took on four new DBS staff at the start of the year, two are still in training. And extra funding has been asked for to take on another three people.

Mr McLaren said: “Obviously I’m going to say I think that backlog will come down.

“But the challenges that we’ve got are around staffing – and the volume of requests that are coming into us is continuing to increase and it’s difficult to keep on top of that increase.”

As for the figures, he told Mrs Bourne that most forces across the country would have applications that were taking more than 100 days to process.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Questions were asked about whether the national model for funding the checks was good enough, as the backlog issue and increase in demand was not isolated to Sussex.

Mrs Bourne said she would arrange a meeting at national level to discuss the issue, adding: “It doesn’t look like it’s going to improve any time soon, from these figures. It needs a bit of a push, I think, from our end.”

Mr McLaren said he was confident there was nothing more his team could do to improve things at a local level – other than taking resources from something else.