‘Flawed’ vetting processes rely on honesty of individual, inquiry told

Thousands of people may be able to cheat the Criminal Records
Bureau vetting process because of shortcomings in checking
information, the Bichard inquiry was told last week.

Maureen Cooper, of Education Personnel Management, which carried
out the checks on Soham murderer Ian Huntley, said it was not
possible to verify the addresses given by applicants.

She said the process “relied on the honesty of the individual” in
filling out the form which records a five-year history of their
life, adding that the “flaw” had not been rectified by the creation
of the bureau.

Questioned by inquiry counsel James Eadie, Cooper said it was also
not possible to check aliases. At the time of the check on Huntley,
he had taken his mother’s name, Nixon, following his parents’

But Eadie dismissed Cooper’s claim that checking addresses could
not be done, saying council tax receipts, electoral roll details or
even gas bills could have been used.

He said the part of the form asking for addresses would determine
which police forces checked the applicant.

He added that it had come as “a bit of a shock” that the vetting
process did not go beyond what was disclosed on the form.

“What sort of check is it that relies on the honesty of the
individual?” he asked.

Earlier, the inquiry had been told that Huntley’s job references
were not followed up before he was given a caretaker’s post at
Holly Wells’s and Jessica Chapman’s school.

Howard Gilbert, head teacher of Soham Village College, said Huntley
had supplied a handful of references for the job to which he was
appointed in November 2001. But none were authenticated until after
his arrest.

Gilbert accepted that it had been a “mistake” not to contact the
referees. The inquiry was also told that Huntley had started work
at the school before police checks on him were complete.

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