Significant improvement in average turnaround times for DBS checks at Police Forces
Thursday 01 November 2018

How long does a DBS check take to complete has always been the most common question asked by both organisations and applicants. At TerraQuest the simplicity of process flows through our AuthentiQuest online DBS solution enables organisation to register applicants, check evidence, countersign and submit applications to DBS quickly and efficiently. This enhances overall user experience and as a result 85% of applications through AuthentiQuest are completed within 4 days. So what happens to the other 15% you may ask? From time to time some checks may take a lot longer than expected, some may even take over a month. This is because all DBS applications include a check of local records with the Police (stage 4 below) and this is the most common cause of delays in providing DBS results.

When an application is submitted to DBS the following 5 steps must be completed;

Step 1 - Application form received and validated.
Step 2 - Police National Computer searched.
Step 3 - Children and Adults lists searched (where applicable)
Step 4 - Records held by the police searched
Step 5 - Issuing of DBS certificate 

When step 4 is reached performance can vary month-by-month as a result of any combination of the following factors:

Demand - fluctuations in demand for DBS checks, over and above anticipated volumes (police are staffed and resourced according to forecast application intake volumes)
Staffing - local recruitment and retention issues
Systems/process - system changes, additions, upgrades and associated changes to processes and practices (including those that arise from changes in legislation and from government directives)

The good news is over half of the Police Forces in the UK are showing significant improvement in the average time (days) it takes for each force to complete their checks however there is still work to be done as the table below illustrates.

 Force Name August 16 - Jul 17 Aug 17 - Jul 18Change 
 Metropolitan 65.2 18.9 -71%
 North Yorkshire 44.4 17.5 -61%
 Wiltshire 7.2 3.8 -48%
 Derbyshire 19.7 10.3 -47%
 Kent   15.3 8.4 -45%
 Surrey 16.6 9.8 -41%
 Cambridgeshire 13.1 7.8 -41%
 Suffolk 7.4 4.6 -38%
 Cleveland 16.2 10.4 -36%
 Sussex 24.2 16.3 -33%
 Hampshire 17.1 11.8 -31%
 British Transport Police 11.5 8.0 -31%
 Nottinghamshire 21.4 15.5 -28%
Greater Manchester 22.3 16.8 -25%
 Jersey 10.5 7.9 -25%
 Northamptonshire 19.2 15.0 -22%
 Gwent 5.7 4.5-20%
 Essex 20.516.3  -20%
 Police Services Northern Ireland 3.1 2.5 -20%
 Hertfordshire 4.2 3.4 -20%
 Cheshire 11.4 9.6 -16%
 Leicestershire  3.4 3.0 -12%
 South Wales 6.2 5.5 -12%
 Ministry of Defence Police 2.8  2.6 -9%
 Service Police 13.5 12.4 -8%
 Dyfed-Powys 9.2 8.7 -5%
 Northumbria 18.9 18.3 -3%
 Scotland Police 16.6 16.4 -1%
 Norfolk 2.2 2.2 -1%
 Gloucester 10.8 10.8 0%
 Durham 13.6 14.0 3%
 West Midlands 8.4 9.1 9%
 North Wales 11.0 12.5 13%
 Devon And Cornwall  9.4 10.8 14%
 Staffordshire 6.1 7.0 16%
 West Mercia 10.6 12.5 17%
 Isle of Man 7.0 8.4 20% 
 West Yorkshire 14.9 17.9 20%
 Merseyside 12.6 15.8 26%
 Cumbria 6.8 9.1 32%
 Lancashire 10.5 13.9 33%
 South Yorkshire 11.4 16.4 43%

So what’s driving this improvement?

New SLA targets were introduced late 2016 and were based on the number of cases processed each month against the specific revised DBS Public Service Standard (PSS) targets. PSS are high-level targets used for monitoring performance. These were reviewed and were set to deliver objectives with a stronger focus on customer service to better reflect the DBS objectives. The Police Service Level Agreement (SLA) targets which are set to help support the achievement of the overall PSS targets were reviewed and revised to bring them in line with the PSS. This would make sure that both the PSS and the SLA performances are calculated in the same way and that the SLA targets continue to align and support the PSS targets.

What can TerraQuest do to support Organisations?

TerraQuest continues to be committed to ensure excellent customer service is at fore front of AuthentiQuest service provision. When checks take a lot longer than expected, TerraQuest support and countersignatory review teams would ensure such incidents are escalated with DBS and the Police Force to speed up the process for any outstanding applications. 

To see what step of the checking process an application has reached, DBS offers an application tracking service through An application reference and applicant’s date of birth will be required to successfully track an application.

For more information on our AuthentiQuest online DBS solution or to arrange a free demonstration please contact us on 0121 234 1300 or via email: 

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