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Criminal Records Bureau

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to his statement of 27 February 2003, Official Report, columns 32–36WS, on the Criminal Records Bureau, what steps his Department is taking to moderate public expectations of the role of the Criminal Records Bureau. [101390]

Hilary Benn: The Summary Independent Review Team report placed in the Library on 27 February 2003 contains the statement "we are concerned that public expectations are possibly unreasonably high and that there needs to be a clear recognition that the (Disclosure) process cannot provide complete security".

The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) has worked with the National Association of Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NACRO) and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development to produce two publications 'Recruiting Safely' and 'Employing People

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With Conviction'. These are available to customers and are issued to all organisations registering with the CRB to gain access to Standard and Enhanced Disclosures and are also available on request from the CRB website. These publications are aimed at employers and volunteering organisations that wish to use criminal record information as part of their recruitment process. Both publications set the Disclosure service into context and demonstrate that if used it should be as part of a wider range of pre-employment checks.

This message will continue to be given out to our customers and the general public when the CRB attends exhibitions, conferences and speaking engagements, and makes customer visits, as well as in CRB newsletters and publications.

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people have made applications for clearance by the Criminal Records Bureau on more than one occasion since it was formed; and what proportion of these have resulted in an applicant being charged more than one fee for the service. [101602]

Hilary Benn: There is no facility available at present to extract from the Criminal Records Bureau's (CRB) database the number of people who have applied for more than one Disclosure or how many times they have been charged. Under the legislation a fee is due for each fresh application for a Disclosure.

Prospective employees may be requested to apply for Disclosure for each position they have applied for. The CRB has issued portability guidance for Disclosures to the Registered Bodies, and encourages them to avoid unnecessary additional Disclosure applications for the same individual. However, the decision on accepting a previous Disclosure rests with the individual Registered Body.

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many referrals have been received by the Criminal Records Bureau since its inception; how many of those referrals have been completed and responded to; how many are pending; and how many the bureau was unable to fulfil; [101603]

Hilary Benn: Since 11 March when the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) launched its Disclosure service, the Bureau has received 1,388,896 applications for Disclosure, of which 1,267,561 have been issued. 50,000 of the remaining applications are currently outside our three-week service standard. This figure has reduced from its peak of 109,000 during the summer of 2002 as a direct consequence of the targeted work that is being done to clear the oldest applications from the system.

For the last four months the CRB has issued, on average more Disclosures out each week than it has received applications for, thereby reducing the number of outstanding cases. The CRB is issuing on average around 42,000 Disclosures per week, which is well over double the weekly output issued by the police under the previous arrangements. The CRB fulfil all Disclosures

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that are processed through the system. In some cases, forms are returned to the Registered Body or the applicant because the form is incomplete and cannot be processed. The information sought by the hon. Member regarding the proportion of applicants from within the teaching profession who have not received their Disclosure is not available in the format requested. There are no IT procedures at present to extract these data from the CRB database. It is expected that this functionality will become available in subsequent system releases. No distinction is made in relation to the profession of an applicant. They are all subject to the same level of service.

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on how many occasions the Criminal Records Bureau has supplied inaccurate information about an individual; on how many occasions the supply of inaccurate information resulted in (a) the denial of a job to that individual and (b) the offer of a job to an individual who would normally be disbarred from taking that job; and if he will make a statement. [101790]

Hilary Benn: Up to and including the end of February 2003 there have been 400 instances where applicant details supplied by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) to the police has led to mistakenly matching conviction details with an applicant. This represents 0.03 per cent. of all Disclosures issued, a total that currently stands at 1,269,367.

The decision on whether an applicant is suitable to take up a position following a Disclosure rests solely with the employer. It is therefore not possible to provide an answer regarding the employment of people following a Disclosure. However, the CRB does have procedures in place for applicants to dispute the information provided on their Disclosure. If upon investigation the CRB finds that the conviction does not relate to the person for whom the Disclosure was issued they will re- issue a corrected Disclosure free of charge. Prior to the CRB operation, had an applicant applied for a position which was police checked under the previous arrangements, details of any alleged convictions would have been passed only to the prospective employer and not to the applicant. That prospective employer would have had no obligation to pass on the contents to the applicant, who could have been oblivious of the facts. As it is, applicants now have the opportunity to dispute any conviction details.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the type of disclosure needed from the Criminal Records Bureau for members of the clergy and other religious bodies. [102522]

Hilary Benn: As with other types of position, the level of disclosure for which an applicant would be eligible would depend upon the particular duties. But a position which entailed regularly caring for, training, supervising or being in sole charge of persons under the age of 18, or of vulnerable adults (as defined), would be eligible for the highest level of disclosure, Enhanced.

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Drug Treatment (Essex)

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much funding has been made available for the rehabilitation of drug offenders in Essex in each year since 1997. [103119]

Hilary Benn: Information is not available in the form requested.

The pooled treatment budget, introduced in 2001–02 provides funding for the treatment and rehabilitation of people with drug problems, including offenders. Drug Action Teams (DAT) use their pooled treatment budget allocations, together with additional resources from health authorities and other sources to fund treatment provision in their areas.

There are three drug action teams covering Essex: Southend, Thurrock and Essex, which covers the remainder of the county. The level of pooled treatment budget funding allocated to the three Essex DATs in 2001–02 was £4.056 million. This figure increased in 2002–03 to £5.306 million.

In 2003–04, the pooled treatment allocation for the three Essex DATs will increase to £5.579 million.


Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many incidents of gun-related crime were recorded in (a) Lancashire, (b) the North West of England, (c) England, (d) Wales and (e) the UK in each year since 1997; [90965]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Available published data on the number of recorded homicide offences in which firearms were reported to have been used are given in the table.

Number of homicide offences involving firearms
LancashireNorth West of England


Figures for injuries are not available.

The total number of recorded crimes in which firearms (including air weapons) were reported to have been used are given in the table.

LancashireNorth West of EnglandEnglandWales

These firearms offences were published on a calendar year basis up to 1997, and on a financial year basis thereafter. The figures for the North West and England for 2000–01 have been slightly revised since they were published.

There was a change of counting rules for recorded crime on 1 April 1998. Numbers of recorded crimes before and after this date are therefore not directly comparable. Similarly, some police forces adopted the principles of the National Crime Recording Standard in advance of its national implementation; for example, Lancashire did so in 2000–01. This will mean that the figures for 2000–01 for Lancashire, the North West and England in the above table will not be directly comparable with the previous year. Both of these changes in recorded crime will have the effect of increasing the number of crimes counted.

Information relating to Scotland Northern Ireland are matters for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland (Helen Liddell) and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Paul Murphy).

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