Severe backlogs built up at the Criminal Records Bureau because
employers were not properly consulted about how they would actually
use the service, MPs have concluded, writes Craig
A report by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee into
the debacle says that the Home Office assumed the service would be
largely telephone based, but employers actually preferred to send
paper-based applications in bulk.
Backlogs at the CRB peaked at 300,000 in October 2002, just six
months after the service went live, causing widespread delays to
the recruitment of care staff, volunteers and foster carers.
Performance has since improved, but turnaround targets were
relaxed last year, and the bureau is still not providing the
service first envisaged, the report says.
Although the incumbent Capita plc bid £100 million less
than its rivals for the contract, it ended up costing far more –
rising from £250 million over 10 years to £395
Government departments should be prepared to retest the market
if their business assumptions change during the course of a project
– even if it delays the project, says the report.
“Launching a service which does not work may be more
inconvenient for users than delaying service introduction to get
the system right.”
The report also recommends that disclosures should be extended
to all staff working with vulnerable adults – not just new
Committee of Public Accounts, 45th Report. Criminal Records
Bureau: Delivering Safer Recruitment