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Criminal Records Bureau

Volume 447: debated on Tuesday 13 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how much compensation the Criminal Records Bureau has paid for delays in processing criminal record checks in each year since it was established; and how many applicants received such compensation payments in each year; (74584)

(2) what total compensation was paid to individuals who were incorrectly assigned a criminal record at the Criminal Records Bureau in each of the last five years;

(3) what steps he is taking to compensate individuals wrongly assigned a criminal record by the Criminal Records Bureau.

The Criminal Records Bureau compensates customers for any loss which is a consequence of its maladministration. This includes errors and mistakes which the CRB have made that have delayed it from issuing Disclosures. However, there are a range of other factors that can contribute to delays in completing Disclosures, including incomplete or inaccurate application forms that require further information from the applicant or Countersignatory; the existence of criminal record information or other relevant non-conviction information and, for Enhanced Disclosures, the performance of Disclosure Units within police forces.

The CRB aims to return customers to the position they would have been in but for its maladministration; this is by making ex-gratia awards. In financial year 2002-03, the CRB made 19 awards totalling £30,603 for consequential loss; in 2003-04 it made 47 awards totalling £56,618; in 2004-05 it made 32 awards totalling £26,489 and in 2005-06 it has made 59 awards totalling £67,014. The following table illustrates the number of awards made against the number of disclosures issued in each of those years:

Number of:

Financial year

Disclosures issued

Awards

Value of awards (£)

2002-03

1,441,704

19

30,603

2003-04

2,287,109

47

86,618

2004-05

2,434,290

32

25,489

2005-06

2,772,929

59

67,014

Figures to determine the number of applicants that these sums were paid to are not available, because in some circumstances the awards were paid to Registered Bodies, employers or Umbrella Bodies.

Information is not available to determine the total amount of compensation paid by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) for individuals who were issued with a Disclosure which, following investigation, was found to contain incorrect conviction information.

The fact that a Disclosure is proved to be inaccurate after a dispute, often following a fingerprint check, does not automatically incur a redress award. This is because in some instances an applicant’s details are the same, or very similar, to those of an individual with a record on the Police National Computer (PNC). It may be that the applicant’s details have been used by another individual when arrested or convicted and the CRB has a statutory obligation to disclose such records where they are identified.

The Disclosure Service enables individuals to dispute the content of a Disclosure and allows them to distinguish themselves from the record on the PNC. This did not happen under the previous arrangements. The CRB scheme complies with existing treasury guidelines.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what Criminal Records Bureau checks are made on applicants for taxi licences who have previously resided overseas. (76135)

An individual may become known to the police within days of entering the country and eligible employers should therefore always be encouraged to undertake disclosure checks regardless of the length of time an individual has been resident in the UK. This applies to those who wish to obtain private hire and taxi licences.

The CRB introduced the Overseas Faxback Service in February 2003, to provide details and guidance to employers and individuals on how to obtain a certificate of good conduct or a copy of a person’s own criminal record from those countries included in the faxback service. This information can be used in conjunction with the full range of pre-appointment checks to ensure that the prospective employee is suitable for the post. These pre-appointment checks are the responsibility of the employer and a CRB disclosure is only one part of that process.

Full details of this service are available on the CRB’s website at www.crb.gov.uk. For those seeking general advice about the countries covered by the faxback service, the CRB also has a national rate enquiry line on 0870 0100 450 and an e-mail enquiry facility at overseas@crb.gsi.gov.uk.

Some countries, including most in the EU, also have arrangements enabling their citizens to obtain certificates of good conduct or extracts from any existing criminal record to show to prospective employers. These may be obtained once the prospective employees have arrived in the UK but it may be advisable for them to obtain the document before leaving their home country.

Following a recent EU Council decision, the CB has, in conjunction with Home Office colleagues and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), become involved in EU initiatives to explore how criminal record and disqualification data cross EU states might be used for employment vetting and disclosure purpose. These discussions are in the preliminary stages at present and more information will become available in due course. The CRB are also in discussion with ACPO and others about seeking access to other, non-EU, overseas conviction data.