CRB defends hike in cost of criminal checks

Criminal Records Bureau managing director John O’Brien has
defended the decision to more than double the charge for carrying
out security checks on social care staff from July,
writes Derren Hayes.

O’Brien told Community Care that increasing the costs of
processing enhanced police checks from £13 to £29 would
enable the CRB to balance its books in the long term.

“We said at the start of the CRB that it would be
self-funding, but after a year’s operation the current charge
is not the operational cost,” he added.

The price of standard disclosures will also rise to

The Department of Health, the Department for Education and
Skills and the Home Office will also provide £19 million of
funding for 2003-4. O’Brien said this reflects a contribution
towards the cost of carrying out the checks on staff employed in
the NHS, schools and who work as volunteers.

The price hikes come as the CRB’s annual report shows that
it processed just over half of all enhanced disclosures within the
three-week target set by the government, and only one in five
standard checks within the one-week target.

Consequentially, the CRB has watered down this year’s
performance targets so that it aims to process 90 per cent of
enhanced disclosures within four weeks, and 90 per cent of standard
ones within two weeks.

O’Brien said the CRB’s poor performance and the
subsequent delays in processing checks  – 9,000 long term checks
are still outstanding – were partly due to the higher than expected
demand for enhanced disclosures – 85 per cent of its work is
taken up with these checks.

“There was no other central checking service of this type
in Europe, so it had to be built from scratch and estimates were
based on the latest market research at the time,” he

O’Brien added that the CRB was looking at refining the
service further, but refused to rule out future price increases for
checks to pay for improvements.

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