Records bureau set for overhaul but home care staff remain unchecked

The government has pledged to make “radical” changes to the running
of the beleaguered Criminal Records Bureau, but is still to set a
date to start checking home care workers.

The changes – including a new system for electronic applications
and possibly fingerprinting some applicants – follow
recommendations by the independent review team appointed in
September to examine the CRB’s failings.

The team concluded that there was “no evidence that the CRB, as it
stands, would be able to cope with the significantly higher levels
of demand which were foreseen in the business plans” and that
“radical solutions” were needed to improve performance.

The changes were proposed as a result of the CRB’s inability,
almost a year into operation, to cope with all the demands from the
care sector. In November, the government delayed the date by which
existing care home staff needed to be checked by 18 months to 31
October 2004 and postponed indefinitely checks on domiciliary care
and nursing agency staff.

Home Office minister Lord Falconer said there was still no definite
date in mind for the checking of domiciliary care staff but that
they would be brought into the process “as soon as is reasonably

“The CRB didn’t work as it should have done,” he said. “We will
bring in groups of workers when it is able to cope with

Patrick Carter, who led the review team, said taking on more
applicants now would cause more delays as the CRB could not cope
with expansion.

In response to the recommendations, the government has agreed to
establish the CRB as an independent executive agency of the Home
Office, revise the role of the registered bodies that forward
applications to the CRB and set criteria for the level of

It has also postponed the introduction of basic disclosure checks –
mainly available for general recruitment purposes – until demand
for standard and enhanced checks has been met.

The government said the service had improved since last summer,
with 80 per cent of standard disclosures and 50 per cent of
enhanced disclosures issued within three weeks. More than 988,000
disclosures have been issued in the past six months compared with
186,065 in the first five months of operation.

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