Pilot schemes aimed at accelerating and toughening up background checks on people who want to work with children and vulnerable adults have been given the thumbs-up by volunteers.
The trial schemes are in line with recommendations from the Bichard Report, which followed the conviction of caretaker Ian Huntley for the murders of school girls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.
In a joint trial of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Identity and Passport Service (IPS), 160 volunteers piloted two online services.
All volunteers went through a simulated experience of applying for a position requiring a CRB check, including meeting their prospective employer, filling out a disclosure application form, having their identity authenticated by a counter-signatory, and receiving their disclosure.
Each volunteer completed two circuits one using a passport, and one using an ID card, which enabled comparisons to be made. An independent company then carried out interviews and analysed the research.
A Home Office report found that the overwhelming majority of trial participants backed the new services, with 96% saying the passport-linked service was an improvement on current arrangements, and 87% saying the ID card-linked service would be even stronger.
Home Office minister Meg Hillier said: “Clearly, establishing identity quickly and accurately is absolutely crucial when dealing with people who want to work with children or vulnerable adults. Employers have to make sure that the person applying for the job is actually who they say they are.”
The government claimed turnaround times for some checks could be reduced from four weeks to as little as four days.
CRB chief executive Vince Gaskell said: “The National Identity Scheme will help make the criminal record check even faster and more robust. That is good news for employers and employees, and good news for the children and vulnerable people they work with.”