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The Criminal Records Bureau has revealed that the longest 'enhanced disclosure' checks take more than four years to complete.

David Hanson, the minister for crime and policing, said in a parliamentary written answer to Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake that although the majority of applications for checks on individuals against criminal records took between three and four days, in 2008-09 the longest time taken to complete an enhanced disclosure was 1,606 days, about four years and five months.

The longest time for a 'standard' check last year was 864 days, more than two years and four months.

Brake told GC News: "At a time when unemployment is on the increase they need to be turning cases around very quickly. I know from individual cases, the length of time it is taking the CRB to process cases is stopping people getting access to jobs.

"And the CRB needs to ensure they are properly staffed to process cases, both from a safety point of view and also from the point of view of ensuring that people receive CRB certificates as quickly as possible."

He is tabling a further question to find out how much the CRB are responsible for delays and how much it is down to the applicant providing them with wrong or incomplete information. According to the CRB, the majority of delays occur before the bureau receives an application and after it has sent it to the police.

In his written answer, Hanson said that a number of factors can cause delays. These include the length of time it can take for an employer to deal with the initial application, the accurate completion of the application form, the clarity of the information provided, the existence of conviction or non-conviction information and the operational effectiveness of the disclosure units of the police forces.

A CRB spokesperson said: "In 2008-09 the CRB exceeded its targets for issuing 90 per cent of all standard checks within 10 days and issued 88 per cent of all enhanced checks in 28 days."

She added that in the same year the bureau witnessed an unprecedented increase in demand for its service which caused a dip below the 90 per cent target for processing enhanced checks in 28 days. To improve demand forecasting the CRB is engaging with its highest volume customers to get a more accurate picture of future demand.

Next month millions more people will require checking under the government's new Independent Vetting and Barring scheme. The CRB spokesperson said the bureau has received additional funding to carry out increased checking and that it has made additional resources available.

The CRB's longest cases last year took less time than on 2007-08, when the longest enhanced check took 1,680 days and the longest standard check took 1,512 days, just over four years. However, that represented an increase on 2006-07, when the longest enhanced check took 1,414 days, while a standard check took 1,203 days.

This article was originally published at Kable.

Kable's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

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