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Disclosure and Barring Service

Volume 663: debated on Monday 15 July 2019

The Disclosure and Barring Service is a vital part of the safeguarding regime. The DBS issued more than 5 million certificates last year, which was more than the previous year. The Home Office, as the sponsoring Department, continues to oversee the DBS’s performance.

Does the Home Secretary not understand —I think he does, along with the Justice Secretary—that it is widely accepted across the House that the service is not fit for purpose, because it makes it far too difficult for those with a record to get back into work, which is bad not only for them but for their families and society? Can we have some urgent action to get back to trying to rehabilitate offenders by putting tight limits on disclosure, especially for cautions and minor offences in early years, and so let many of our citizens turn their lives around? Why does he not cut through the bureaucratic inertia in the Home Office and get a move on?

The House will be aware that there have problems with the service in recent years. As a result, a number of changes are being made and performance is up. In fact, a new chief executive is starting this week, I believe, so there is new management. On the actual policies it implements, the right hon. Gentleman makes a good point. Changes can be made and active discussions are taking place right now between me and the Justice Secretary.

Already this phenomenal summer of sport will have inspired many children to play football, tennis and cricket, with netball, golf and rugby still to come, but there are still failings in our safeguarding processes, including the DBS checks. I worked extremely hard with the excellent Minister on this policy. The main issue remains broadening the remit of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 to include sports coaches, but will the Home Secretary update the House on progress towards strengthening DBS checks for those involved in coaching, including assistant coaches, to ensure the next generation of possible sporting heroes and heroines are safe from abuse?

I thank my hon. Friend for the work she has been doing for several years to encourage more people, particularly young people, to take part in sport. She is right about the current position: sports coach is not included as position of trust. Enhanced criminal checks are available, but I agree that we need to do more work, which is why we are reviewing the effectiveness of the law on those who take advantage of young children with sexual relationships and are looking at what more we can do to include them as positions of trust.

The scope of the DBS is far too narrow. Private tutors are exempt, as are host families of international students. As we head into the summer, it is a reminder that we need to safeguard all young people. What steps is the Home Secretary taking to ensure it is far more comprehensive in who it covers?

I understand that the hon. Lady has had a meeting recently with the victims Minister, the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend the Member for Charnwood (Edward Argar), on this very issue, and I am glad that she has raised it. She may be aware that there are changes we have to, and want to, make because of a recent Supreme Court judgment, and because of that I want to bring forward other changes that we are looking at and planning and that, when they happen, she will welcome.

Some of these DBS checks take far too long and prevent people from getting into employment. Is it the fault of the DBS, local police forces, or both?

Sometimes, when there are delays, they will probably be very case-specific, so it is hard to attribute fault, but my hon. Friend is right to raise the need for speedy checks. There have been significant improvements. He may be interested to know that there is a 14-day maximum on the basic checks we apply, and in 98% of cases that has been met.