Dismore challenges Mayor over DBS criminal record checks backlog

At today’s Mayor’s Question Time, Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden Andrew Dismore AM challenged the Mayor over the serious delays in criminal record checks for people waiting clearance to take up jobs or volunteering opportunities. (video here)


As at 07/12/2016, the MPS ‘Work in Progress’ (backlog) for DBS checks was 43,007. Extra staff have been recruited and officers on recuperative duty have been redeployed to help reduced the backlog. Staff have also been seconded from TfL and MOPAC have seconded a senior staff member to lead the backlog recovery.


Mr Dismore told Mayor Sadiq Khan:


‘There have been considerable delays and a large backlog within the Met in clearing requests for DBS checks, and this was having a knock on effect on people with job offers and on volunteers. While some progress has been made towards reducing the backlog through recruitment, redeployment and secondment of staff can and will this level of staffing be maintained permanently to ensure that progress in tackling the backlog continues to be maintained?’


Mr Dismore quoted the example of his constituent Chris Basson, a volunteer with Camden Victim Support. (quote below) They submitted his Enhanced DBS check application on 11th July. After 4 months, it still had not been processed, until I raised it on his behalf, when it was then dealt with in 2 days.


Mr Dismore also reminded the Mayor that it was not a new problem that he had inherited. This time last year, The Evening Standard highlighted the cases of 3 trainee nurses who couldn’t start their course even though they’d applied for checks the previous August. In March, the Standard reported the example of a disabled support worker who had been waiting since October. Then In December, a school where 10% of new staff whose applications had been submitted in June couldn’t begin work at the start of term.


Mr Dismore asked the Mayor:


‘How can we expect well-meaning people to volunteer; and how can we expect job applicants and employers to cope with such obstacles to getting people into work when they are kept hanging like this? Don’t you agree that the backlog is still unacceptably high? What do you consider a reasonable turn round time should be?’


The Mayor said that he agreed with Mr Dismore over the importance of the checks and equally dealing with them promptly. Good progress is being made with the backlog, and the average turnaround was 22 days. It was a national issue and the Deputy Mayor for Policing had raised it with the Minister. The Met. is now working closely with the DBS service, and had more and better trained staff and improved IT, with risk based assessment. Progress was being made but it is important not “to take the foot off the gas” in dealing with demand


After MQT Chris Basson added :


“I was left in a very difficult position after my DBS check took 4 months to complete, and only did so with the intervention of Mr Dismore’s office. Given the nature of my work, supporting extremely vulnerable victims of crime, these delays were a problem for me, for Victim Support Camden and the victims themselves. In the commercial work it would also cost money, as employees are unable to start work until they are cleared.”