Changes for personal licence applications in Scotland

Personal licence applicants can no longer apply to Disclosure Scotland for their ‘basic disclosure’ if their job role is in England and Wales.

Individuals who are working in England and Wales (even if they live in Scotland) will need to apply to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

A basic disclosure is a criminal record check that reports on a person’s current convictions. It can be requested by individuals or third parties with explicit consent from the individual. The disclosure (an original, not a copy) must be provided to the relevant licensing authority with all applications for grant of a personal licence.

Nicola Smith, director at law firm Squire Patton Boggs, told DRN: “The DBS has now set up an online application process for basic checks on the gov.uk site, but it takes 15 minutes to get registered on the site to start to use it for the first time with proof of ID, such as a passport or driving licence, needed for the registration process. To make the application, as with the previous Disclosure Scotland system, a full address history for the previous five years is required, as well as National Insurance details. Payment by debit or credit card will be necessary. The alternative is to use a ‘responsible organisation’ who effectively offers a ‘check and submission service’ in a similar way to passport application check services.

“It may be sensible to allow extra time for the criminal record checks to be returned while the new system gets up and running – operators should remember that the sales of alcohol are required to be authorised by a personal licence holder under the Licensing Act 2003 and only a personal licence holder can be named as Designated Premises Supervisor, so keeping track of existing licence holders in the business is important to ensure proper coverage and supervision.”

She also noted that the disclosure must be dated within 28 days and, therefore, any delays in issuing it could impact on the efficiency of the personal licence application process “because in practice the disclosure cannot be applied for much ‘in advance’, ie before the applicant has their National Certificate for Personal Licence Holders and all the other required documentation (as otherwise it might expire before the applicant is ready to submit the application)”.

Disclosure Scotland and DBS are two separate agencies. Although Disclosure Scotland has processed England and Wales basic disclosure checks for a number of years now, this was officially on a temporary basis, under a delegation which ends on 30 July 2018.

Smith explained that the change is required because a conviction is ‘spent’ more quickly in England and Wales than it is in Scotland, Northern Ireland or the Channel Islands.

“Therefore if you obtain a Basic Disclosure in Scotland, for a job role in England, you might receive information you are not entitled to see.”

DBS has already issued a number of documents in relation to the new basic check service, which can be accessed on its website. These include processing standards, terms and conditions, identity guidance for organisations responsible for submitting basic checks to DBS, and trading terms for those responsible organisations.


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