|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
|Number of police officer days in Wales lost due to sickness absence||79,343||87,191||90,357||89,811||97,037|
The Home Office is currently developing the Occupational health status "Strategy for a Healthy Police Service", in consultation with the police service, which is intended to help bring about substantial reductions in police sickness and in sickness absence.
Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers there were in the Wandsworth policing division on 1 April; and how many there were on 1 April (a) 2001 and (b) 2000. 
Mr. John Denham: The only definition of an operational (frontline) officer which currently exists is that in the Report of the Working Group on the Classification of Police Service Personnel in September 1999 which was commissioned by the then Home Secretary (Mr. Straw). It describes such an officer as any officer, including covert officers, whose primary role (i.e., over 50 per cent. of the time) is directly to deliver the overarching aims of the police service.
This definition however is insufficient for the purposes of determining who should benefit under the special priority posts scheme which forms part of the package of reforms agreed in the Police Negotiating Board on 9 May.
Under the special priority posts scheme, forces will be able to target extra rewards on those working at the sharp end of public service, doing the most difficult and dangerous jobs. We are currently discussing with the Police Service how those to benefit should be identified.
24 Jul 2002 : Column 1481W
It will be for chief officers and police authorities to draw up local schemes, taking account of national criteria and any guidance issued by the Home Secretary. They will also have to consult local staff associations.
Mr. John Denham: We are committed to ensuring that the service offered by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) is of the highest standard. An applicant who believes that information in a Disclosure is inaccurate may make an application in writing to the CRB for a new one. If the Bureau is of the opinion that the information is inaccurate, a new Disclosure will be issued. For other complaints, in the first instance complainants should telephone the CRB contact centre or write to the CRB Customer Services Manager. If the applicant considers that a complaint has not been satisfactorily dealt with, the matter may be taken up with the CRB Operations Director or with the Chief Executive. The CRB has appointed a Complaint Mediator to resolve any complaint where a customer remains dissatisfied with the Chief Executive's reply.
Mr. John Denham: Although the main thrust of the work of the Criminal Records Bureau is directed towards criminal record checks for new recruits, the Bureau will also receive applications from existing employees and volunteers.
Mr. John Denham: The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) is an executive agency of the Home Office. The principal arrangements for monitoring and managing its work are as follows. Each year, the Bureau will continue to produce corporate and business plans, and an annual report and accounts, all of which will need to be approved at Ministerial level, and will then be published. The Bureau will also produce weekly and monthly operational performance reports for my information. The Bureau's work is overseen by an Advisory Board which meets frequently and reports directly to me. The Board is chaired by the Home Office Director of Crime and includes senior representatives from the Home Office, the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Department of Health, the Department for Education and Skills, the National
24 Jul 2002 : Column 1482W
Council for Voluntary Organisations, and the Local Government Association and at least one independent non-executive member. The Board has access to whatever records and information it sees fit to fulfil its role.
Mr. John Denham: Since most have not given their specific consent, it would not be appropriate to publish a list of all the bodies registered with the Criminal Records Bureau for the purpose of countersigning applications for Standard and Enhanced Disclosures. A list of those registered bodies that have consented to having their details made available for the purpose of countersigning applications on behalf of non-registered organisations is available from the Criminal Records Bureau on request and information is also available on the website www.disclosure.gov.uk.
Mr. John Denham: The package of measures which is being implemented by the Criminal Records Bureau is structured on the basis of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. Of the three levels of Disclosure that the Bureau will issue, Basic Disclosures will contain details only of convictions that are not spent under the 1974 Act. Standard and Enhanced Disclosures will also include spent convictions, but will be issued only to applicants for positions that fall within the Exceptions Order under the 1974 Act.
Mr. John Denham: A foreign national will be able to apply to the Criminal Records Bureau for information held on databases here. But the Bureau is not in a position directly to obtain information from other countries. In the case of a foreign national, or a British national who has lived overseas for a substantial period, the Bureau will offer guidance in due course to employers about the availability of criminal record checks in a range of foreign countries, to enable an enquiry to be made to the appropriate authority.
Mr. John Denham: The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) will essentially provide the Disclosure Service, under Part V of the Police Act 1997, in England and Wales. In Scotland, the Scottish Criminal Record Office (SCRO) will provide a broadly equivalent service, called Disclosure Scotland. No conclusion has been reached as to how best to implement the Act in Northern Ireland. The objective is that both the CRB and the SCRO will seek to capture information across borders, so that someone who has
24 Jul 2002 : Column 1483W
resided in, say, both England and Scotland should need to apply only once. Officials in the different administrations keep in regular touch about the detailed arrangements.
Mr. Hilary Benn: The Criminal Records Bureau began processing applications for Standard and Enhanced Disclosures on 11 March this year. A total of 286,770 applications have been received to date and the total number of Disclosures issued is 199,309. The service standards are to produce 90 per cent. of Enhanced Disclosures within three weeks and 95 per cent. of Standard Disclosures within one week. These service standards are not currently being met although the Bureau are typically processing correctly-completed applications within six weeks.
Measures are being taken to overcome the early operating difficulties experienced by the Bureau, which have led to delays in responding to applications. We are determined that the Bureau will be in a position as soon as possible to meet the high standards of service that it has made clear it will deliver to its customers.
Mr. Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his latest estimate is of the cost of the Criminal Records Bureau over its first 10 years; how far this varies from the initial estimates of the cost; and what he estimates accounts for this difference. 
Mr. Hilary Benn [holding answer 5 July 2002]: The most recent estimate for the Bureau's cost for the first 10 years of operation is £928 million. This compares to the original cost estimate of £939 million. The reduction in this figure is the result of more accurate budget forecasting, due to the experience gained since the Bureau's inception.
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has had to increase the Criminal Records Bureau's access to criminal records from other countries with regard to child protection. 
Mr. Hilary Benn: The Criminal Records Bureau plans a non-statutory service to provide UK employers with information about overseas criminal record checking services. The service is expected to be available by September 2002. Employers will then be able to ask prospective employees with overseas residence to obtain copies of relevant records to aid safer recruitment decisions for all types of position.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent assessment he has made of the performance of the Criminal Records Bureau; and what mechanisms exist to levy financial penalties for poor performance. 
24 Jul 2002 : Column 1484W
Mr. Hilary Benn [holding answer 25 June 2002]: (a) The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) reviews its service standards regularly and accepts that it is currently not meeting these service standards. The CRB is confident that over the coming few weeks it will improve its performance and start to achieve its published service standards.
The CRB has introduced a performance improvement plan and a number of short-term contingency measures to address this issue. The performance improvement plan includes:
Rapid recruitment and training of additional staff to meet productivity forecasts;
Additional resources to deal with the older applications;
Extensions to working hours to increase output
Revised procedures to deal with errors/omissions on applications forms. These remove such applications from mainstream processes thereby increasing the efficiency of processing both correctly completed applications and the exceptions;
Call Centre staffing levels are being significantly increased to cope with demand;
Incomplete or incorrectly completed application forms are being returned to the Registered Body for correction;
The CRB has also introduced the following short-term contingency measures:
Outsourcing most of the backlog of applications to the data entry facility of Hays Plc in Chennai (Madras, India).
The CRB will carry out and issue the results of a List 99 check, for all teachers, in advance of a full Disclosure check.
The CRB has introduced a contingency plan to deliver a very limited number of manual criminal record checks.
Customers are kept informed of all service developments through their monthly newsletter, Registration Matters.
Letters have been issued to Lead Countersignatories about the situation.
(b) The contract contains a series of Service Levels, which, in turn have liquidated damage (financial remedies) regimes attached to them. In short, failure by the contractor to achieve contracted Service Level results in financial remedies being applied by the Agency. It is not possible to reveal the liquidated damage regimes attached as they are "commercial in confidence".
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|