§ The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal)
The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) proposes to introduce measures to reduce the number of organisations currently registered with the CRB, through the setting of an annual threshold for the submission of disclosure applications by registered bodies. At present there are some 13,000 organisations registered with the CRB of which just 20 per cent process 80 per cent of all disclosure applications.
Setting an annual threshold will be a key part of the CRB's strategy to enhance the efficiency of and improve standards within the registered body network. Those organisations that remain registered will be better equipped to carry out their responsibilities under the CRB code of practice, receiving enhanced support and assistance from the CRB in carrying out their obligations. We shall consult widely with registered bodies and other stakeholders prior to the change.
The CRB and its major stakeholders recognise that public safety and the integrity of the disclosure service relies upon the widespread adoption of robust internal processes by registered bodies, particularly in terms of properly verifying the identity of disclosure applicants, ensuring that eligibility criteria are met and forms are completed correctly.
The current assurance and compliance regime has highlighted that a significant number of registered bodies do not, for one reason or another, comply with all of the CRB's key guidelines or the CRB code of practice. A more compact registered body network, working in greater partnership with the CRB and composed of high-volume users would allow the CRB to focus its resources more effectively to improve compliance and support the evolving role of registered bodies.
The CRB remains committed to providing appropriate means of access for those organisations that wish to continue to use the disclosure service, and will work in partnership with low-volume users to find alternative arrangements that best suit their requirements; keeping cost and bureaucracy to a minimum.
The introduction of such a threshold will be subject to a formal consultation process followed by the laying of regulations under Sections 120AA and 120ZA of the Police Act 1997.