Case study – Andy – Failings in the DBS eligibility investigation process meant that an ineligible check was carried out leading me to resign from my job

Andy contacted our helpline for some advice after his employer, a local council, had requested an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check for his role working as an apprentice in their Revenue Office. Andy explained that he had no face to face contact with clients, answering all enquiries over the telephone and believed that his job would be covered by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.

As his conviction from about 7 years ago was spent (under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974) and wouldn’t appear on a basic (DBS) check, Andy was keen that his employer carried out this level of check.

We advised him to agree to the enhanced check and confirmed that we would raise it on his behalf as an eligibility query with the DBS. On contacting the DBS we were told by their customer service department that eligibility queries had to be raised with the registered body (RB) responsible for processing the check. Despite explaining that the applicant did not wish to contact the RB and alert them to the fact that he may have a criminal record, the customer service advisor confirmed that there was no other way of querying a check.

We alerted the DBS policy department who responded with the following:

 

“I have contacted customer services regarding this application, which will be put on hold while the eligibility is investigated. DBS will need to see the job description and discuss with the RB. We won’t let the RB know it’s the applicant that’s querying eligibility.

 

The email chain has been forwarded to customer services managers to make sure all staff are aware of the appropriate processes when dealing with potentially ineligible applications”.

 

Despite the application being put on hold, Andy heard nothing further from the DBS until he received his enhanced DBS check in the post and was asked by his employers to hand it over as they had been made aware by the RB that it had been produced.

We raised this issue with the DBS policy department who were keen to investigate the failings that had occurred within their system.

A week later, Andy contacted us again and stated that as his employer had been made aware that the check had been completed, they were putting him under a lot of pressure to hand his certificate over to them. This was causing Andy a lot of anxiety and he eventually decided that the only option open to him was to resign from his job at the council.

Andy has subsequently applied for the same job at a neighbouring council and has been successful. His new employer has requested a basic (DBS) check.

 

Lessons

This case demonstrates some of the failings we’ve identified in the processing of criminal record checks by the DBS. In this case, the DBS customer service department were not clear about their own process for querying eligibility which led to a check being undertaken which had been put on hold.

We have raised this case, alongside other similar ones, with the DBS and recommended that they carry out a review of their ineligible check query process.

Links

Notes about this case study

This case study relates to Unlock’s casework.

Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.

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