The Government agency set up to vet employees working with children and
vulnerable adults has been criticised in a report by the spending watchdog.
The National Audit Office said business assumptions, poor planning and an
over-ambitious timetable resulted in severe delays at the Criminal Records
The report acknowledged improvements had occurred and the service was now
delivering twice the number of disclosures as the previous system, but said
that continuing delays could cost the tax payer as much as £68.2m.
The CRB was supposed to start operations in September 2001, but delays meant
it did not start checking the records of potential staff until March 2002.
By July 2003, almost 95 per cent of enhanced and standard disclosures were
being issued on time. However, continuing delays mean the issuing of basic
disclosures have been put back to the end of this year.
The report said the relationship between the agency and its partner Capita
had come under pressure as the problems mounted and that was compounded by the
lack of a "single operational ownership" of the whole process.
Planning also proved inaccurate with the CRB anticipating that up to 85 per
cent of applications would come via the internet or telephone, when in fact 80
per cent were sent in paper form.
Head of the NAO Sir John Bourn said: "The performance problems at the
CRB caused considerable difficulties for customers, but the situation has
improved through the co-operation of the partners.
"These experiences emphasise the importance of testing business
assumptions and consulting with potential users at an early stage."