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Criminal Records

Volume 448: debated on Tuesday 4 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what assessment he has made of the effect of Regulation 7 (1) of the Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) (Registration) Regulations 2006 on small and medium-sized organisations; (76155)

(2) which organisations have had their registered body status cancelled as a result of the Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) (Registration) Regulations 2006;

(3) if he will commission a race equality impact assessment in relation to the decision of the Criminal Records Bureau to cancel the registration of organisations that submit fewer than 100 disclosure applications each year;

(4) for what reason the Criminal Records Bureau requires a minimum of 100 disclosure applications to be made by a body for that body to qualify as a registered body.

Following a public consultation exercise last year, a full regulatory impact assessment was completed, and placed in the Library along with the regulations. This included a small firms impact test which acknowledged that small organisations would probably not be able to satisfy the minimum threshold and would need to approach other organisations in order to obtain checks on their employees and incur the associated costs. However, in some cases it was concluded that the costs of using such an organisation would be lower than the administrative costs of running and maintaining a small volume registered body. No race related issues were identified during the consultation.

The changes arose from a key recommendation of the 2002 independent review of the CRB and were supported by the recent Bichard inquiry that recommended reducing the number of registered bodies from over 14,000 that existed at the time. It also follows the CRB’s own research that revealed that up to a third of registered bodies were not fully complying with the guidance and the code of practice and explanatory guide issued by the CRB which is a condition of registration. One of the areas of weakness was in completing the requisite identity checks on applicants.

The intention is to make the registered body network more professional and more experienced in the disclosure process which will allow the CRB to ensure that the network of users is proficient in the security and policies of the CRB. Setting an annual threshold is a key part of the CRB’s strategy to enhance the effectiveness of, and improve standards within the registered body network.

The CRB will provide advice, guidance and support to organisations on the options available to access the disclosure service before their registration is cancelled due to low volume.

The CRB has written to some 2,800 organisations to inform them that they are to become deregistered. These organisations have submitted 10 or fewer applications in the last 12 months.