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The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) is to introduce an online status checking service for employers to verify that potential employees have been cleared for relevant jobs. It is intended to save people from having to request a new certificate every time they apply for a new role.

The move is one of the measures announced by Lynne Featherstone, the Home Office minister, in response to a review of the criminal records regime by the government's independent advisor Sunita Mason. Featherstone said the government has accepted the majority of the recommendations and incorporated them in the Protection of Freedoms bill.

In a statement to Parliament, she said the online service is part of an effort to reduce the bureaucracy in the CRB regime. The checks are run for positions working with vulnerable people.

"We have included a provision to make the CRB process less burdensome on all concerned by introducing a new, online status checking capability that will in effect mean individuals can re-use their certificates for different employers across the same workforce and so will no longer need to apply for a new certificate every time they want to take up a new role," she said. "This will have a positive impact on business, making it significantly easier for employers to take on staff in relevant sectors."

A Home Office spokesman was unable to provide any further detail on how the service will work.

Other relevant features of the protection of Freedoms bill include:

  • Ensuring that only relevant and accurate personal information will ever be disclosed by the police.
  • The opportunity for applicants to review and, if appropriate, dispute any information held about them by the police prior to it being disclosed to an employer.
  • Substantially reducing the scope of 'regulated activity' from which people can be barred.

The government has not accepted Mason's call for a significant reduction in the number of people eligible for checks.

The Home Office also announced that the government will maintain the current arrangements for holding criminal records on the police national computer, while ensuring the controls on accessing those records are sufficiently strong.

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

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