From this autumn, employers in charge of recruiting staff to work in close contact with children or other vulnerable groups will have an additional tool with which to check out applicants. Will the Criminal Records Bureau help weed out potential miscreants or does it encourage discriminatory recruitment policies? Sarah-Jane north investigates
The disclosure system operated by the newly formed Criminal Records Bureau will enable employers to discover any skeletons in the cupboards of those it is considering taking on. Plans have already been made to extend the CRB’s service to provide basic disclosure for anyone who believes they need to prove they have nothing to hide, regardless of their field of work.
The Criminal Records Bureau, an executive agency of the Home Office, was borne out of rising concerns that people with flawed employment records, even those already banned from working with certain groups, were slipping through the net. However, concerns have been voiced about the potential for employers to abuse this new service and possibly discriminate against anyone with even the slightest blemish on their CV.
For many, the CRB’s key selling point will be its ability to tap into a variety of information sources to discover a person’s criminal, or law-abiding, past. At present, records of a person’s criminal convictions or their unsuitability for posts are held on numerous databases. Through the CRB an employer gains access not only to the Police National Computer (PNC), the centralised information point for the police forces of England and Wales, but also to records held by local police forces.
The CRB can also access records held by the Department of Health about people considered unsuitable for work with children or with vulnerable adults and similar records held by the Department for Education and Employment. The CRB will also access records held in Scotland and Northern Ireland when appropriate. According to the nature of the job or position involved, information will be drawn from the PNC alone or every source.
“The CRB has come out of the whole issue of child protection and the recognition that current arrangements for making checks into an individual’s past were too limited,” explains bureau chief executive Bernard Herdan. “The CRB is about opening up access