§ Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What changes have taken place as a result of the independent review of the Criminal Records Bureau. [HL3959]
§ Baroness Scotland of Asthal
The Government, in their response on 27 February 2003 to the independent review team's recommendations for changes to the way in which the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) is managed and operates (Official Report, Commons, cols. 32–36WS), agreed that the CRB should be reconstituted as a free-standing executive agency within the Home Office as soon as practicable.
Vince Gaskell has been appointed to lead the new agency which will be launched on 1 September. I have today placed in the Library of the House a copy of its framework document which sets out its role and functions and makes provision for its governance. A copy of its corporate and business plan including the targets set for the current financial year was placed in the Library of the House on 5 June.
Much has been done to strengthen and improve the CRB's performance and significant improvements in output volume and turnaround times have already been achieved. Since October the CRB has been issuing an average of 40,000 disclosures a week compared with 24,500 a week last August and the bureau is now meeting its service standards for turnaround times. Once the provisions in the Criminal Justice Bill to implement a number of the independent review team's recommendations are in force, further improvements can be made to the efficiency and effectiveness of the CRB's services. We will consult further with registered bodies and others on the terms of the regulations to be made under the legislation before they are brought into force.
The establishment of the CRB as a separate agency will enable its senior management team under the leadership of Vince Gaskell to focus exclusively on the delivery of the CRB's changing and increasingly demanding functions and ensure that its customers receive the quality of service they have the right to expect.