CRB warned of backlog over background checks

The under-fire Criminal Records Bureau was warned in January that it had
insufficient resources to deal with the likely demand for background checks on

Employers in the education, health and charity sectors are facing delays of
up to six months in appointing staff to work with children and vulnerable
adults as the service struggles to cope with a backlog of 195,000 applications.

The Association of Colleges (AoC) warned about possible delays in character
checks at the start of this year, and asked the CRB to urgently appoint more
dedicated staff.

The AoC also advised the service to reorganise staffing to focus on paper
applications, and to prioritise in investing in an IT solution so checks could
be done quickly online.

David Gibson, AoC chief executive, said his organisation has been inundated
by calls from more than 100 colleges, which are facing a staffing crisis
because of the problems.

One college currently has had 44 staff checks outstanding since the start of
July, while another has an application outstanding for six months.

Gibson said: "AoC is extremely disappointed to see the education of
students across the country badly affected by a problem that was anticipated
and could have been avoided. The AoC has warned the CRB about the problem for
many months – although the CRB has now taken on more staff, the association
believes this is too little too late."

Gibson said that following the tragic events in Soham, many colleges feel
the CRB is not giving their checks the same priority as schools, despite the
risks being the same. Further education colleges deliver learning to children
aged 14 to16 and also to vulnerable adults.

A Home Office spokesman said a recovery plan is in place and response times
are improving.

By Ben Willmott

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