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Boy Scouts to model for UK ID checks

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The Scouts are prepared to help the Identity and Passport Service design a model procedure for checking people's identities against the ID database.

A pilot in June will help the IPS decide how to incorporate passports and ID cards into the identity checking process used by authorised agents of the Criminal Records Bureau, which are organisations that approve or deny people permission to work with children and vulnerable people.

A spokesman for the IPS and CRB said the Scouts were being used in the trial because they were one of the highest-volume CRB agents. At least one other agent would take part in a trial to create the "proof of concept" for the procedure over the next six months.

He admitted that the procedure had not yet evolved enough for the IPS to have decided it was feasible. That was the point of the trial.

"It's to help the IPS design ID-related services that will provide benefit to other business partners," he said.

A feasibility study might compare the cost of running identity checks against people requesting CRB clearance for a job application with the benefits in reducing identity fraud.

The spokesman said the current identity checking procedure used by CRB agents was 99.97 per cent proof and most of the mistakes were spotted by the applicants themselves when the CRB linked them with criminal records that were not theirs, as opposed to people fraudulently trying to get access to sensitive work.

Nevertheless, it is feared that people wanting to fraudulently get approval for working with children will use false identities when they apply for a police check.

Current checks are done by checking applicants' "biographical footprints" using documents like utility bills against the identity services of credit reference agencies.

Guy Herbert, general secretary of No2ID, said that applying biometric ID to CRB checks appeared to be a marketing exercise to mitigate the burden placed on them originally by the obligation on them to do background checks on job applicants.

Another group of vulnerable adults - people with criminal pasts - have been discriminated against by employers, either by mistakes in the CRB data drawn from the patchy police national computer, by being refused jobs illegally for minor or irrelevant convictions, or by having checks run - again illegally - for irrelevant jobs. The CRB is trying to root the discrimination out of the system. ®

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