Feeds

Home Office to cull Criminal Record Bureau agents

Outsourcing blame after ID snafus

High performance access to file storage

The Home Office has fingered 3,000 organisations for expulsion from the list of groups or firms authorised to query the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) database of people with past convictions.

The move follows concerns that thousands of people have been incorrectly identified as criminals when prospective employers or other organisations queried the CRB.

The Home Office's public stance on the matter has been "mistakes happen".

However, it appears to have quietly outsourced the blame to those organisations, or agents, who are authorised to carry out record checks through the CRB.

This first, routine purge will be the first of many scheduled for the next 18 months. It is warranted under the new regulations added to the Police Act (1997), in April.

The Home Office said it had written to 3,000 agents that had made less than 10 queries of the CRB database. It hopes to have them de-registered by the summer. All those who have made less than 100 CRB queries are also set for expulsion. These are thought to number about 10,000 of a total of 13,500.

A Home Office source said the routine purge was designed to get rid of problem agents, but officially the department will not directly accuse registered firms of carelessness or abuse of the system.

"In April, we commenced our programme to reduce the size of the registered body network because we were aware that some registered bodies were not fully complying with our code of practice and not carrying out identity checks to the standard we expect," the source said.

"Organisations that persistently fail to comply with these new regulations will be considered for deregistration, removing their ability to comply with CRB checks."

The Criminal Records Bureau reported in its Strategic Plan this week that one of its most serious risks was losing the trust and support of its agents - those private, public and charitable bodies authorised to perform police checks on its database.

The bureau's public explanation for the April regulations and the ongoing cull was that reducing the list would make the system more manageable and reduce the likelihood of mistakes.

The National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders received 15,000 calls to its helpline about CRB disclosures last year. The Home Office said complaints it had upheld against its system of CRB checks represented only 0.025 per cent of nearly 9m queries of its data. Yet that still represents over 2,000 people being fingered for crimes they did not commit.

That also disregards those people whose minor non-sex related convictions spent long ago, still prevent them from working with children. Or those whose criminal records were examined and disseminated for no good reason.

The Home Office says 22 per cent of agents have made 89 per cent of CRB queries. It has not revealed what ratio of agents have been responsible for the mistakes that made victims of so many British citizens.

Powerful charitable organisations are included among the biggest users of the CRB system. Their support is crucial to it ever becoming a success. Having outsourced its checks, the Home Office cannot quite get away with outsourcing the blame. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.