The Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) has sent an open letter to the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), complaining over delays in DBS (child protection) applications.
In the letter, the head of CCPAS said the delays in getting such applications processed were ‘causing our members and service users significant concerns in the safer recruitment of workers and volunteers engaged with vulnerable groups’.
CCPAS is one of the largest DBS umbrella organisations in the UK, processing more than 55,000 criminal records checks over the past year, for those applying to work with vulnerable groups in churches, youth organisations, schools, charities and care homes across England and Wales.
However, the letter said while most applications are processed by the DBS within a few days, CCPAS had been receiving complaints from many organisations whose applicants’ DBS checks had been ‘severely delayed’ by the MPS’s background checks.
The letter said: ‘Most applications that get stuck with the MPS take around four months to process and one application we submitted took seven months to complete. This is despite the applicant lodging an official complaint with the DBS, stating that the delay had caused them severe financial hardship.
‘The response from both DBS and the Metropolitan Police has been that nothing that can be done. This is clearly unacceptable, and in some cases will be leading to unsafe and dangerous practice on the part of employers, who will feel under pressure to fill critical vacancies’.
The letter from Justin Humphreys, executive director for safeguarding at CCPAS, went on to say all other forces have the facility for CCPAS to escalate the application in the unlikely event it should take more than 70 days to process. However, even when CCPAS was able to escalate applications with the MPS, they still took months to complete.
The letter added: ‘I find it extremely difficult to accept this poor service can be tolerated in the context of all we know about the need for safer recruitment to be seen as a priority for those working with vulnerable groups (in regulated activity or otherwise).
‘The current position places vulnerable people at potentially significant risk and also risks the development of poor practice by employers who feel increasing pressure to fill vacancies’.