Digital IDs and DBS Checks

Providing evidence of any criminal record is becoming standard practice throughout the UK, as more and more organizations become risk averse for a number of reasons. Even though working from home is set to become more common in the years to come, proof of identity and any past convictions is still essential in today’s connected world. Indeed, it could be that less face to face time with employees might make employers more likely to insist on a criminal record check. In line with this need for security in an ever more online working environment, the UK government is announcing steps to integrate digital ID with the checking process.

Disclosure and Barring

The process of checking a job applicant’s criminal record is known by slightly different terms across different industries; this is largely because of its history. Many employers still as for a CRB check, which refers to the Criminal Records Bureau. In fact, in December 2012, the CRB was merged with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) under the Protection of Freedoms Act of that year. Checks carried out for both of these authorities are now the responsibility of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), an arm of the Home Office. For this reason, newer employers usually ask for a DBS check.

Whatever the acronym used by a potential employer, voluntary or educational organization, what they are asking for is a criminal record check as part of their recruitment process. Any position advertised which requires such a check has to make this clear as part of that advertisement; employers have a legal responsibility to ensure this. As well as making sure the whole process is transparent, this gives applicants time to look into the process, which can be quite daunting for first time job seekers.

Most DBS checks are the Basic type; these have to be requested by the applicant, and there is no eligibility criteria as to who an employer can or cannot ask to provide one. Basic checks can be usually be provided within 24 hours. Standard and Enhanced DBS checks are required for people applying for certain occupations, including teachers, doctors, solicitors and accountants. These checks need to be applied for by employers or registered bodies, and disclose all past convictions, both spent and unspent.

Right to Work

Whatever type of DBS check an employer requires, one of the first things an applicant has to do is to prove who they are. It is surprising how hard some people find this, especially if they don’t drive or do not possess a passport; for those living at home who do not receive utility bills, the options are narrowed even further. The government has introduced an online ID verification process, but this is only useful for certain citizens within the UK, and is not necessarily portable to all employment opportunities.

Of course, many people applying for jobs in the UK are not British nationals. As so, they have to prove they have a “Right to Work” in the country. Achieving this often means producing several types of paperwork, and must be obtained from a number of past employers or other listed counter-signatories. As the British DBS system does not cover other judicial systems, any criminal records also have to be obtained from law enforcement agencies in those jurisdictions.

Digital ID Solution

To make this process easier, the UK government have announced the roll-out of a digital ID scheme, to be introduced in April 2022. This will produce a digital identity which will be fully portable with the country, thus cutting out a large amount of time and effort, as well as making the system more secure.

Known as Digital ID Validation Technology (IDVT), this form of ID checking can only be accepted from ID Service Providers” (IDSPs) who are approved users of the Digital Identity and Attributes Trust Framework (DIATF). All these interventions are new, and are designed to provide the highest level of assurance that each individual digital ID can be completely trusted.

As an extension of this scheme for the right to work in the UK, it has also been announced that it will be usable for the DBS checking system. Again, it is hoped that this will improve what can be quite a stressful process for applicants, who need to prove who they are before having their criminal records accessed. Between a secure digital ID process and the Police National Computer (PNC), it is hoped that the process of safe recruitment will be made both faster and more secure.

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