Criminal records bureau launch date too ambitious say MPs

MPs have criticised the timetable for the launch of the Criminal
Records Bureau as “ambitious”.

Members of the House of Commons home affairs select committee
said the launch date in July was too soon because of concerns about
the quality of data on the Police National Computer from which much
of the bureau’s records will be drawn.

MPs cited a report by the chief inspector of constabulary last
year showing criminal record error rates of between 15 and 65 per
cent, as well as substantial delays in updating records by some
police forces.

“If the underlying data is inadequate the Criminal Records
Bureau will never be able to operate effectively,” according to a
new report from the committee. It recommends giving priority to the
effective operation of the bureau, rather than opening earlier and
performing inadequately.

“It is vitally important that when the bureau is established the
public can have full confidence in its records,” said
Barnardo’s chief executive Roger Singleton.

While welcoming the decision not to charge volunteers for
criminal record checks, the report questions inconsistent policies
between government departments over childminders. “In the era of
joined-up government it is anomalous that, while one government
department gives childminders start-up grants, another is proposing
to charge them for the criminal record checks that they need before
they can become practising childminders,” says the report.

Finally, the report finds it “unacceptable” the bureau has not
yet produced detailed financial forecasts for the first five years
of its operation, despite the legislation setting it up being
introduced four years ago.

The bureau will operate in England and Wales to provide criminal
records checks for those working with children or vulnerable
adults. It will centralise information held on the Police National
Computer and by local police forces with records held by the
department of health and department for education and employment
about people considered unsuitable for such work. In Scotland, the
Scottish Criminal Records Office will issue certificates. Plans for
Northern Ireland have not yet been finalised.





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