Volunteers may get free record checks

The government is considering making funding available for
voluntary organisations involved in setting up a “registered body
disclosure service” with the Criminal Records Bureau, according to
Home Office minister John Denham.

The Home Office has already announced that the CRB – due to be
fully operational next April – will issue criminal records checks
free of charge to volunteers. But organisations need to become
registered bodies before they can access information, although
smaller employers and voluntary groups can form an “umbrella”
organisation to register on their behalf.

It costs £300 to register, but there will also be the
additional costs of administering a disclosure service. The
National Council for Voluntary Organisations, among others, has
already called for financial support for the voluntary sector, but
the government has so far ruled it out.

NCVO is concerned that additional administrative costs will
either divert money from general budgets, to the detriment of
charitable projects, or result in a fee for use of the service,
thus undermining free checks for volunteers.

In evidence to a House of Commons home affairs select committee
inquiry earlier this year, the National Association of Clubs for
Young People estimated it would have to employ two additional
clerks to process an estimated 8,000 applications per year, while
the Scout Association said it would cost around £50,000 per
year to cover its 70,000 annual checks.

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