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Criminal Records Bureau

Volume 407: debated on Monday 23 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department by what percentage amount the Criminal Records Bureau is to increase its fees for (a) standard search and (b) new enhanced search. [118508]

With effect from 1 July 2003 the fee for Standard level disclosures will increase to £24.00, with Enhanced level checks increasing to £29.00. This is expressed in percentage terms as an increase of 100 per cent. for Standard Disclosures and an increase of 142 per cent. for the Enhanced searches. The main reason for these increases is that fees. which where set before the service was operational, have been found to be unrealistically low. Additionally, in the past 12 months the Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) has seen an increase in its operating costs. The following factors have contributed to this:

A higher than anticipated demand for the paper application channel;
A higher than anticipated proportion of Disclosures being at Enhanced level;
The high number of applications having to be returned, due to inaccuracies or the omission of supporting documentation, resulting in additional processes and procedures.
Telephone and postal applications made to the CRB from 1 July 2003 will be charged the new fees. In consideration for any delays in the postal system a one-week period of grace will be allowed for applications submitted by post.Volunteers will continue to obtain their Disclosures free of charge. The CRB issued over 200,000 Disclosures to volunteers up until 31 March, which represents a saving of over £2.4 million to the voluntary and community sector.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Criminal Records Bureau searches from Essex county council have been outstanding for (a) four weeks, (b) 10 weeks and (c) six months. [118509]

The total number of applications outstanding for Essex county council over four weeks is 457. Of these, 203 are over 10 weeks old and 139 are over six months old.

These figures include those applications that have been returned to the customer for additional information or further documentary evidence. Essex county council has been notified of these applications and until this information has been received, the Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) cannot process these applications. The CRB has undertaken several initiatives recently to reduce the number of aged applications in the system that are causing delays to other applications. The number of applications outstanding over 10 weeks and six months are reducing week by week. The Bureau continues to improve its output and anticipates that the number of aged applications will be reduced to no more than 5 per cent. of work in progress by September 2003.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to meet the target of 90 per cent. of Criminal Records Bureau (a) standard searches completed within two weeks and (b) new enhanced searches completed within four weeks. [118511]

The target to complete 90 per cent. of Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) Standard Disclosures within two weeks and Enhanced Disclosures within four weeks is expected to be met by the end of July 2003. Latest figures indicate that the CRB is currently processing 85.6 per cent. of Standard Disclosures within two weeks and 88.2 per cent. Enhanced Disclosures within four weeks.The original service standards were set before the launch of what is a new and unique service at a time when it was difficult to predict the optimum level of service that could be delivered. The experience of the first 12 months operation indicated that they were overly ambitious.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Criminal Records Bureau searches on behalf of persons or organisations in Cornwall have been outstanding for (a) 10 weeks, (b) four months and (c) six months. [119530]

The information sought by the hon. Member regarding outstanding Disclosure applications in Cornwall is only available as a total figure which does not take into account the large number of applications that have been returned either to the 273 Registered Bodies in Cornwall or the applicants, because of form completion errors or omission.The number of outstanding disclosure applications for Cornwall are:

  • (a) Applications between 0–10 weeks—700 (547 of these applications are under four weeks old)
  • (b) Applications between 10 weeks-04 months—204
  • (c) Applications between 04 months-06 months—224
  • The Criminal Record Bureaus (CRB's) current service standards are to clear 90 per cent. of Standard Disclosures within two weeks and 90 per cent. of Enhanced Disclosures within four weeks. As of week ending 07 June the targets achieved by the CRB were 85.6 per cent. and 88.2 per cent. respectively.