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Criminal Records Bureau

Volume 477: debated on Monday 9 June 2008

Numerous constituents working in the voluntary or public sectors have raised concerns with me about the non-reusability of existing CRB checks as the cost and delay of obtaining new CRB disclosures, sometimes monthly, can be prohibitive, especially for agency nurses and supply teachers. Will my hon. Friend undertake to discuss urgently with the CRB how it can improve the existing portability framework document, because employers and employment agencies tend seriously to exaggerate the risk of reusing CRB checks?

The decision whether to accept a previous CRB check needs to be made by the employer. Currently the CRB is not involved if a previous disclosure is accepted. However, the advent of the independent safeguarding authority will allow continuous monitoring, especially for the teachers whom my hon. Friend mentioned and anybody working with children or vulnerable adults. That body will be able to update the employer at any point if the employee’s status changes.

I listened to that answer with care. The Minister mentioned people working with vulnerable adults. I know that the Home Secretary has been made aware by the Association of Chief Police Officers of one problem in our care home sector, in which many of the workers are overseas nationals, and the difficulty of getting good criminal records checks for them because of the problem of getting data from overseas. I have written to the Minister for Borders and Immigration on that point. Can the Minister update the House on what steps the Government are taking to ensure that our most vulnerable citizens are properly protected?

This is an area that I am discussing a great deal with colleagues in Europe. I remind the hon. Gentleman that our introduction of identity cards for foreign nationals, which will start in November, will significantly help us to determine the identity of, and thereby perform greater checks on, individuals working in Britain and their legality. We are also discussing with several countries how better to exchange criminal data about people, but the onus has to be on the employer to decide whether they have the relevant information from people. There are complications in that some acts that would be considered crimes in this country are not criminal offences in the country of origin.