Experts warn Home Office blunder leaves employers at risk of recruiting criminals

Employers face a “very real threat” of employing serious criminals after the Home Office’s latest disaster, recruitment experts have warned.

More than 27,000 paper files containing details of crimes committed by UK citizens abroad have failed to make it on to the Police National Computer since 2001. It means that murderers, rapists and other offenders could apply for jobs in the UK and come through Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks clean.

Steve Bailey, managing director of CV-checking firm, said many criminals would fancy their chances of getting through the checks.

“One out of 10 people who look us in the eye and say we can run a check on them comes back with a criminal record,” he told Personnel Today. “They take the risk because they know the CRB might not have their records.”

The high-profile nature of the lost files will encourage even more criminals to take the risk, Bailey warned.

“HR staff should be very concerned,” he said. “We find serious crimes after people have given us permission to check them. It is a very real threat.”

Tom Hadley, director of external relations at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, added: “It is of great concern. Recruiters rely on information from the CRB to make the correct decision on who should work with children and vulnerable adults.”

The Home Office insisted HR professionals should continue to have faith in CRB checks. “There are millions of files on the system, and to suggest that people should stop using it because 27,000 files have gone missing is a bit daft,” a spokeswoman told Personnel Today.

Home secretary John Reid is conducting a major inquiry into this latest embarrassment for his department, which he had already described as “not fit for purpose”.


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