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Criminal Records Bureau

Volume 496: debated on Tuesday 1 September 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the longest time taken for the completion of a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) (a) standard and (b) enhanced disclosure check was in each year since the inception of the CRB. (283826)

The performance of the CRB remains good and in 2008-09 the CRB exceeded its targets for issuing 90 per cent. of all standard checks within 10 days and issued 88 per cent of all Enhanced checks in 28 days. In 2008-09, the CRB witnessed an unprecedented increase in demand for its service which caused a dip below the 90 per cent. target for processing Enhanced checks in 28 days.

The disclosure process comprises broadly several stages involving the applicant, the registered body (RB) (the organisation that handles the application on behalf of an employer), the CRB and the police. Each stage is reliant on the accuracy of the data provided by the applicant and the subsequent verification of these data by the RB from the outset.

A number of factors can cause delays, including the length of time it can take for an employer to deal with the initial application; the accurate completion of the application form; the clarity of the information provided; the existence of conviction or non-conviction information and the operational effectiveness of the Disclosure Units of the police forces involved in the enhanced disclosure process following recent high volumes of applications.

The majority of applications spend between three and four days at the CRB and analysis undertaken by the Bureau has shown that the majority of delays that occur do so before the CRB receives an application and after it has been sent to the police.

The CRB has set up an improvement plan with its delivery partners, including the police forces, to address the problems associated with delays. This is aimed at maintaining a balanced output of applications on the system while also reducing the number of cases that have been in process for more than five days. This work has started to show an improvement in turnaround times but the CRB will continue to monitor forces’ performance in line with its own performance.

Where applications are returned to customers to acquire further information, reminders are issued but some customers can fail to provide this information or withdraw their application from the Bureau's systems where they no longer require their disclosure.

The following table provides details of the longest time taken for the completion of a CRB standard and enhanced disclosure in each year since the inception of the Bureau. The figures have been calculated based on the date the disclosure was issued in each year, counting back from the date of completion.

Longest time taken in days - enhanced disclosure

Longest time taken in days - standard disclosure

2002-3

406

345

2003-4

684

692

2004-5

954

803

2005-6

1,189

1,198

2006-7

1,414

1,203

2007-8

1,680

1,512

2008-9

1,606

864

2009-10

1,434

393

It is likely that these applications will have been referred back to the applicant or Registered Body; the delays in issue are not necessarily representative of the Bureau's performance.