Criminal Records Bureau postponed

The government has postponed the launch of the Criminal Records
Bureau from July until the autumn to allow time for an inspection
of the police criminal records system and a six-week pilot of the
bureau’s operation.

The decision follows a critical report by the Home Affairs
select committee published in April.

The committee had criticised the plans to establish a
centralised criminal records system allowing local authorities and
voluntary organisations to make checks on those working with
children or vulnerable adults. It recommended delaying the launch,
after an independent report revealed error rates of between 15 and
65 per cent in criminal records held on the police national
computer, as well as substantial delays in updating records by some
police forces.

Last week’s official response to the committee’s report reveals
that Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) will carry
out a review of the use of the police national computer to improve
its accuracy and efficiency, with a particular focus on
data-inputting delays.

However, the government claimed errors occurred more with
individuals’ personal characteristics rather than with the raw
conviction data – the latter being the bureau’s primary information

HMIC will report in August. In the longer term, the government
wants to transfer the inputting to the courts.

The government responded to the committee’s criticisms of the
lack of detailed financial estimates for the bureau with a plan
showing how the full cost of setting up and operating the service
could be recouped within five years.

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