(2) what the longest time taken was to process an application for a criminal record check in the last year for which figures are available.
Data concerning the average time taken to complete a disclosure are not a performance target and are not collated by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB). The CRB operates to a set of published service standards (PSS), which are to process 93 per cent. of standard disclosure applications within two weeks and 90 per cent. of enhanced disclosure applications within four weeks. The service standards are published on the CRB website, www.crb.gov.uk.
The longest time taken to process an application within the last year from receipt of the application to despatch of the criminal record check was 11 months. This was not a straightforward case and it required interaction with the registered body throughout the process; the application form was incomplete; there were three police forces involved in the local intelligence checking; and the Police National Computer (PNC) found alias details pertaining to the applicant which he had failed to declare on his form. On occasions such as this it is necessary to recheck these details against the PNC and the other databases containing details of people who are considered unsuitable to work with children and vulnerable adults. The disclosure was issued on 31 May 2006 and contained a total of six separate convictions.
The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) publishes an annual report and accounts, which is presented to Parliament pursuant to section 7 of the Government Resources and Accounts Act 2000. The annual report and accounts provides, among other things, analysis on the CRB’s performance and its operating costs and balance sheet for the financial year. Copies of the CRB annual report and accounts 2004-05 were placed in the Library and a copy may be downloaded from the CRB’s website www.crb.gov.uk. The bureau’s management board, which includes a senior Home Office official, also regularly reviews issues concerning efficiency and effectiveness and the Chief Executive provides regular reports to Ministers on performance. The CRB’s published service standards (PSS) are to issue 93 per cent. of Standard Disclosures within 14 days and 90 per cent. of enhanced disclosures within 28 days. The CRB is currently issuing 99.7 per cent. of standard disclosures within PSS, and 88.6 per cent. of enhanced disclosures within PSS. More organisations than ever before have access to the CRB’s disclosure service and this expansion clearly demonstrates the Government’s confidence in the CRB and its ability to deal with growing volumes in a timely and effective manner. Furthermore, a CRB-commissioned MORI survey has also shown that customer satisfaction levels are at an all time high, reflecting the year-on-year improvements that the CRB has made. The independent research has also shown that the CRB is making a difference to the protection of children and the vulnerable. In 2005, some 25,000 unsuitable people were prevented from gaining access to children or the vulnerable, as a direct result of CRB checks. Many more unsuitable people are deterred from applying to work with children and the vulnerable as a direct result of a requirement for a CRB check.
The Secretary of State for the Home Department last met the Chief Executive of the Criminal Records Bureau on 25 January 2006. I last met the Chief Executive of the Criminal Records Bureau on 11 May 2006. Such meetings take place every six weeks, and the Minister reports back to the Secretary of State as and when necessary.