Criminal record checks could hit over 14 million people

New CRB regs produce a nation of suspects

The unintended consequence to cap all unintended consequences could, in the end, be that abusers will simply refocus their efforts into areas of maximum informality and maximum trust. A measure designed to regulate and restore trust in society could, in the end, destroy it utterly.

Geek Alert! El Reg explains how we modeled the future

Our estimate of how many individuals are likely to need to register with the new ISA Board was based on two criteria. How many people are likely to be carrying out volunteer work with vulnerable groups often enough to require vetting: and how many are carrying out work that is likely to attract a demand from an employer for an ISA check.

For the volunteer requirement, we based our estimates on the 2005 Citizenship Survey, which provides a highly detailed breakdown of volunteering within England: whether it is formal or informal, how often it happens, and the type of activity undertaken. For the three activities most likely to meet the vetting criteria, we came up with an unde-duplicated figure of 11.75 million.

A small additional number was added to take account of regulated activity buried in other categories. The overall total was factored down to allow for duplication between activities, whilst a (pro rata) correction was applied to take account of volunteering in Wales.

Our estimates of the workforce requirement were based on the most recent Quarterly Labour Force Survey, available from the Office of National Statistics. Some categories of work - such as teaching or General Practice - could safely be added in their entirety. For others, a weighting was applied.

A further correction was made to remove presumed duplication between volunteering and workforce data: some additions were made for adults sharing a house with childminders, adopting couples and foster parents.

The grand total - and this is likely to be subject to further revision - came to 14.3 million individuals likely to need to register with the ISA within the initial five year period. No attempt was made to model either the effect of new entrants to the workforce, which we believe could add a further million to the above figure, or the effect of individuals switching in and out of jobs that require registration.

That could all too easily result in a figure of c.16 million, which even we find hard to believe!

In talking to the Home Office, we were pleased to find that they had almost exactly anticipated our method for modelling the registration requirement. Consultancy KPMG used the same data sources to come up with an initial figure of 9.28 million people who would need to register over the five-year period. They then added a further 500,000 individuals per year for each of four years to take into account new entrants to the workforce. This gives 11.28 million - the figure now officially quoted by government spokespeople in respect of the proposed ISA Registration scheme.

Why has The Register come up with that much higher a figure? Without sight of the full Home Office model - which we have requested - it is hard to be sure. We think that the main differences will be found in our estimate of the number of volunteers who need to be registered: and the fact that in a free market free-for-all, with employers not constrained by central government guidelines and simultaneously reminded of the severity of penalties for failing to carry out checks, far more categories of work will end up being vetted than was originally intended.

We also suspect that in the interval between the KPMG exercise and our own there has already been some tightening of the guidelines.

Nonetheless, we are pleased to confirm that the Home Office modelling effort appears to be soundly based - and we are more than happy to share our own assumptions with them in any future development of their model.

Readers who would like to see a copy of the model should drop a line directly to John Ozimek

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