The Home Office helps safeguard children and vulnerable adults by providing employers with a service that lets them see safeguarding information, such as details of criminal records, about people who want to work with children or vulnerable adults. Employers use this service to help them decide who to employ. The safeguarding service is run by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), an arm’s length body set up by the Home Office in 2012, which brought together the previous Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS).
When the DBS was created, the Home Office wanted to modernise what was previously a paper-based service and launch a new product (“the Update Service”) that it assumed people would choose to use in large numbers. The Update Service would enable users to use one DBS certificate across a number of organisations with the same disclosure level, rather than apply separately for each one. This was intended to make DBS cheaper to run for both government and DBS’s customers and to provide a better service for employers and the individuals. We reported in May 2018 on the failure of the DBS and the Home Office to modernise these services. Since then, the modernisation programme has not been completed.
In March 2019, we recalled the Home Office and the DBS to set out when modernisation would be completed and explain the delays. In April 2019, we also questioned Sir Mark Sedwill, now Head of the UK Civil Service, about the decisions he made on DBS during his time as Permanent Secretary at the Home Office between 2013 and 2015.
Published: 1 May 2019