Criminal checks flaws exposed at Huntley inquiry

Thousands of people may be able to cheat the vetting process
carried out by the Criminal Records Bureau because the body has no
way of checking that vital information disclosed is correct,
the Huntley inquiry heard, writes Sally

Maureen Cooper, of Education Personnel Management, which does
contractural work for the CRB and carried out the checks on Ian
Huntley, said it was not possible to verify the addresses given by
people on their form.

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

Under questioning from inquiry counsel James Eadie, Cooper said
that it was also not possible to check aliases, and at the time of
the check on Huntley he had taken his mother’s name of Nixon
following his parents’ separation.

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 that the part of the form asking for address details was
critical because it would determine which police force was asked to
carry out checks on the job applicant, adding “it comes as a
bit of a shock” that the vetting process does not go beyond
what is disclosed on the form.

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

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

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

Gilbert accepted it had been a “mistake” not to
contact the referees, and the inquiry also heard that Huntley had
began work at the school before police checks on him were

Gilbert said that there had been “heightened
awareness” of the need to appoint someone suitable to work
with children because Huntley’s predecessor had been sacked
following an inappropriate relationship with a student.

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