Voluntary groups’ confidence in records bureau hits rock bottom

The leading membership body for the voluntary sector is calling for
reform of parts of the Criminal Records Bureau after a study
revealed that the sector had an “extreme lack of confidence” in

In a report published this week, the National Council for Voluntary
Organisations urges the government to introduce proper funding for
registered umbrella groups which apply for checks on behalf of
smaller groups.

It also recommends that more councils act as umbrella bodies for
the voluntary and community groups in their area.

Campbell Robb, director of public policy at the NCVO, said:
“Voluntary organisations have an extreme lack of confidence in the

“Despite the government’s promises, in reality volunteers’ checks
are not free and many organisations cannot even locate an
affordable registered body in their area.”

He warned that the difficulties could deter new volunteers and that
the government “cannot afford to ignore this new evidence of the
CRB’s problems”.

The report, which is based on a six-month consultation with the
sector, found that many organisations thought the system too
expensive and difficult to use, with half of the 110 respondents
rating it as “very poor”.

Among the main problems were the average £15 cost for a check
to be carried out and the failures of the CRB to cover the
administrative expenses incurred by registered umbrella

Other problems cited by respondents were the number of mistakes
made by the bureau, the lack of a systematic process for those
trying to find registered umbrella bodies that can access checks,
and concern that helpline staff lacked knowledge.

The NCVO has written to Home Office minister Lord Falconer
outlining ideas on how the bureau could be improved.

The key recommendation of a team of troubleshooters sent in to the
bureau by the government to sort out its problems is expected this

A spokesperson for the Home Office confirmed that the team would
propose “long-term changes” to the bureau, which has encountered
problems since its launch nine months ago.

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