More than 12,200 innocent people have been branded criminals by bungling police and Government officials, it has been revealed.
The incorrect records showing them to be paedophiles, violent thugs or other convicts were disclosed to schools,
hospitals, nurseries and voluntary groups by the Criminal Records Bureau. The extent of the misreporting is four times worse than officials had suggested.
Those wrongly accused by the CRB face having their careers blighted. They also have to go
through an appeals process to clear their names. By the time that has finished, they may have been stigmatised and their chance of obtaining a job or training post dashed - disclosures are sent to the potential employee and the applicant on the same day.
The CRB's annual report indicates that only 680 inaccurate disclosures were made last year. But figures seen by the Daily Mail reveal there were 2,785 last year. Since 2003-2004, more than 12,200 have been wrongly stigmatised as criminals. They
contested their cases, and were proved to be right.
Figures obtained by Tory MP Mike Penning show that, in some years, virtually every contested disclosure was found to be inaccurate. In 2005-2006, 2,669 disputes were upheld, out of 2,675 that
The CRB had been effectively covering up the scale of the problem by only making public those mistakes for which its staff were personally responsible. It had not been releasing details of disclosures containing inaccuracies
supplied to the CRB by other public bodies - most notably the police - then subsequently disclosed in the agency's name. Mistakes have included people having convictions wrongly attributed to their name because of a mistake by staff entering information
into the Police National Computer.
Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve said: The increase in the number of incorrect disclosures is disturbing. These are mistakes that risk ruining people's lives.
Phil Booth, of the NO2ID privacy
campaign, said: One mistake in the system and your whole life can go down the pan. You are officially tagged a criminal when you have done nothing wrong.
Organisations with interactive websites likely to be used mainly by children must ensure that staff moderating the sites are not barred from working with children from October.
It will be a criminal offence for an organisation to knowingly employ
a barred person for a regulated role, such as moderating children's sites.
The Government is changing the way that it controls who has access to children and vulnerable adults and new laws take effect on 12th October. Those make the moderation of
online services such as bulletin boards a regulated activity.
The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act was introduced in 2006 and has been modified by a commencement order which expands it to include some online services as regulated activities,
meaning that they cannot be performed by anyone on the list of banned people. The new law includes as a regulated activity "moderating a public interactive communication service which is likely to be used wholly or mainly by children".
The law will be phased in and from 12th October this year will only apply to people filling new jobs in regulated areas. It will extend to all 11 million roles connected with children and vulnerable adults over the following five years on a phased basis, but the Government has not yet published the phasing-in programme.
More than 1,500 people have been wrongly branded as criminals or mistakenly given a clean record by the government agency set up to vet those working with children.
The number of errors by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) has more than doubled
in the past 12 months, despite intense pressure for it to improve its performance.
Many of the victims of mistakes would have been intending to take up jobs as teachers, nurses and childminders, or become youth volunteers.
innocent people have been accused of wrongdoing by the CRB. They are likely to have faced career problems or stigma from their communities as a result. They will also have had to go through an appeals process to clear their names.
figures are an embarrassment for the Home Office, which faced criticism after the number of errors by the bureau was first highlighted by The Daily Telegraph last year.
The latest figures show that 1,570 people being checked by the CRB were
wrongly given criminal records, mistakenly given a clean record or accused of more serious offences than they had actually committed in the year to March 31.
This compares with 680 people in the previous 12 months. The disclosure is likely to
deter innocent people from applying for positions that require scrutiny, for fear of being labelled a criminal.
A copy of the CRB's annual report, which will be formally published next month, shows that 3.9 million certificates were processed by
the agency: an increase of 500,000 on 2007-08 and the highest figure since the agency's creation.
Ministers are under intense pressure to scale back plans for a big brother child protection database which will force millions of parents to undergo paedophile and criminal checks.
In a major blow for the Government, Britain's largest
children's charity, the NSPCC, criticised the regulations for parent helpers which it said threatened perfectly safe and normal activities and risked alienating the public.
Esther Rantzen, the founder of the Childline charity;
paediatricians; teachers; children's authors; politicians and members of the public also joined the growing coalition opposing the Vetting and Barring Scheme, which could lead to one in four adults being screened.
Barry Sheerman, Labour chairman
of the Commons' children and families select committee condemned the way the policy was being implemented and demanded that Children's Secretary Ed Balls get a grip on this.
Next month parents in England and Wales who take part in any
formal agreement to look after children – even if it is as little as once a month – will be told they have to register with the new Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) – at a cost of £64. From next summer, parents who have failed to register
with the ISA could face prosecution.
Critics claim parents will be wrongly labelled as criminals. Others fear that those who currently give up their time to help out in schools and clubs could give up rather than go through the hassle of
Wes Cuell, director of services for children and young people for the NSPCC, said: The warning signs are now out there that this scheme will stop people doing things that are perfectly safe and normal, things that they shouldn't
be prevented from doing.
When you get this degree of public outcry there is generally a good reason for it. I think we are getting a bit too close to crossing the line about what is acceptable in the court of public opinion. We don't want to
throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Ed Balls, the Children's Secretary, has ordered a review of the Government's scheme to vet around 11 million adults who work with children or vulnerable adults.
Balls said he wanted to look again at the scope of the Vetting and Barring scheme
to make sure the right balance has been struck on how many people are covered.
There was outrage last week when it emerged parents who regularly give lifts to other children on behalf of clubs like the Cub Scouts would be required to
undergo criminal records and other checks.
The supposed review will be carried out by ISA chairman Sir Roger Singleton and will report by the beginning of December, Balls said.
In a letter to Barry Sheerman MP, the chairman of the Commons
Children, Schools and Families Select Committee, Balls defended the scheme, and claimed there was strong support for it among children's charities and in the voluntary sector.
He claimed that asking people to register for vetting was
categorically not a presumption of guilt, but a sensible and proportionate contribution to keeping children safe .
But he acknowledged concerns about how low the bar for contact with children was set before people were
required to register.
Chris Grayling, shadow home secretary, said the announcement was "not good enough" and called for a review of the whole issue. He said: I'm afraid this is just not good enough. The reality is that the
Government's words on this are so vague and ill-defined that no one will know where the dividing line falls. They'll look at the level of fines and register everyone to be on the safe side. The Government has to look at this whole issue again.
Criminal record checks have gone too far and must be tilted back towards those wanting to work with children, the new Supreme Court has ruled.
In a victory for campaigners fighting the rise of the Big Brother state, the Justices ordered an
overhaul of enhanced criminal records bureau checks against anybody seeking a job with a vulnerable adult or child.
In particular, the presumption in favour of disclosing soft intelligence against an applicant came under attack. Each year,
around 20,000 people have details of this type of information disclosed to potential employers, in many cases scuppering their hopes of gaining a job.
But Lord Neuberger said soft intelligence may constitute nothing more than allegations of
matters which are disputed by the applicant, or even mere suspicion or hints of matters which are disputed by the applicant . In future, where there are doubts about the information, Chief Constables should allow the individual affected to make
representations before the information is released to employers, the court ruled. Police must also show much greater consideration for the private lives of job applicants.
Lord Neuberger said: The widespread concern about the compulsory
registration rules for all those having regular contact with children demonstrates that there is a real risk that, unless child protection procedures are proportionate and contain adequate safeguards, they will not merely fall foul of the Convention, but
they will redound to the disadvantage of the very group they are designed to shield, and will undermine public confidence in the laudable exercise of protecting the vulnerable.
Lord Hope said that, in many cases, disclosing details about an
applicants private life goes further than is reasonably necessary for the legitimate object of protecting children and adults . The same information will be released to a succession of employers, in what Lord Hope described as a rigid,
mechanistic system that pays too little attention to the effects of disclosure on the applicant.
Lord Hope said past rulings had tilted the balance of the system against the applicant's right to privacy. He added: It should no longer
be assumed that the presumption is for disclosure unless there is a good reason for not doing so .
They refused my vetting. They said I voted Labour so showed masochist tendencies
If your sexuality does not fit, don't go looking for work in the United Kingdom. That is the message from across the Atlantic, as chilling new social controls, instituted this month, threaten to bar from public employment anyone whose sexual interests
place them outside a very narrow normal consensus.
The consequences go far wider than the strict letter of the law. Just as censorship generates a chilling effect on speech, so placing the question of individual fitness to work in
certain jobs in the criminal arena is creating a culture in which private conduct becomes the touchstone by which public acceptability is judged.
The Daily Mail are reporting that Manor Community College in Cambridge is to ban any visitor who has not been checked by the Criminal Records Bureau.
The Head of the Secondary School claims the decision is necessary to prevent strangers
walking around the premises. But also admits that volunteers, visitors and contractors will be hit with the ban.
So, unless Manor Community College is unique in that there are a slew of strangers wanting to check out Year 5's latest art
project, what this measure will actually achieve is reducing the number of volunteers able to donate their time and energy to help out stressed teachers at sports days or similar events.
Not content with poisoning the way children view adults, the
government is effectively making the fear of being left alone with young children the first step into adulthood for 16 year-olds.
The CRB is the rotten core at the heart of the national obsession with paedophilia. It seriously hinders
volunteerism, has frightened many adults into not spending time with the young children of friends and family and is on the verge of making scouts and sports clubs a thing of the past.
The CRB is fast becoming a symbol of the so-called broken
society and needs urgent reform.
'Better safe than sorry' guidelines at the vetting agency
How long before such lifestyle choices such as holidaying in Thailand gets people banned from working with kids for life? And on the other side of the coin, I bet they will never
consider being a religious cleric as a risk factor.
People could be banned from working with children because of their attitudes or lifestyles.
Workers judged to be loners or to have a chaotic home life could be barred from working with vulnerable people, even though there is no evidence that they
pose a risk, according to guidelines from the Government's new vetting agency.
Decisions about staff will be taken by officials who have never met them, based on details passed on by their employers.
Experts claimed that the Big Brother
approach meant innocent people could have their careers wrecked on the basis of cruel rumours or ill-informed moral judgements.
The row is the latest controversy to hit the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), which was set up to vet
millions of people working with vulnerable people.
Guidance seen by The Sunday Telegraph, which has been given to more than 100 case workers at the ISA reveals that those referred could be permanently blocked from work if aspects of their home
life or attitudes are judged to be unsatisfactory.
It says case workers should be minded to bar cases referred to them if they feel definite concerns about at least two aspects of their life, which are specified in the document.
It means, for example, that if a teaching assistant was believed to be unable to sustain emotionally intimate relationships and also had a chaotic, unstable lifestyle they could be barred from ever working with children. If a nurse was
judged to suffer from severe emotional loneliness and believed to have poor coping skills their career could also be ended. ISA's case workers are expected to establish the person's relationship history and emotional state based on the file
passed on by their employer.
Psychologists, professional regulators and health and teaching unions last night expressed horror over the guidance. Harry Cayton, chief executive of the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence, which oversees
Britain's nine health regulators, said: My concern is that judgements are being made not on the basis of facts but on opinion and third party perceptions.
Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, said: This Government is creating a
society where everyone is treated as guilty unless they are proved to be innocent. These changes contravene any principles of natural justice and will destroy the lives of decent innocent people. Gordon Brown is creating Government by thought police
Adrian McAllister chief executive of ISA said no one would be barred purely on the basis of their lifestyle or attitude, given that all referrals had to identify either harm done, or a future risk of harm . He said: One of the
understandable concerns we have heard from people is that they could be barred for private interests like pornography, or liking a drink. That isn't the case. We only look at these risk factors if relevant conduct [actual harm] or a risk of harm has been
The organisation was unable to explain the reasoning behind its instruction to staff that definite concerns in two areas should be sufficient to be minded to bar staff. It would only say that the protocol follows advice from
a forensic psychologist.
The Criminal Records Bureau has paid out compensation of £290,124 to people wrongly labelled criminals during background checks by the agency.
The CRB issued 3,855,881 certificates in 2008/2009. In the same year there were 2,522 disputes
handled, and upheld.
These claims were brought by the registered body or by the applicant because they believed the information either related to someone else or was in some other way incorrect.
Hat tip to The Sun for making the Freedom of
Information request, which also found there have been 15,000 other bungles in the last six years. Most of the mistakes involved either mixing up records checks or incorrect information from the police.
The Burnley v Blackburn derby provided another example of police using violence against fans who posed no threat
One of the troubling developments in the past few years, is the number of times police have been captured on film lashing out at
innocent demonstrators and football fans, neither of whom can rely on ready sympathy from the public, but who nevertheless have rights in a democracy.
Plans for a database of adults who want to work with children have been halted following a wave of criticism.
Ministers feared the Vetting and Barring scheme, designed to protect children from paedophiles and which was due to be introduced in
England and Wales next month, would drive a wedge between adults and children.
Nine million people who wanted to work with children or vulnerable adults would have had to register on the database, or face a £5,000 fine.
plan was heavily criticised by nurses, teachers and actors such as Sir Ian McKellen, who said the measures were excessive.
It would also have affected parents who signed up for school driving rotas for weekly sports events or clubs.
night, 66,000 employers, charities and voluntary groups were being informed of the sudden change of plan.
Home Secretary Theresa May will say that the scheme is being halted to allow the Government to remodel the scheme back to proportionate,
common sense levels . The safety of children and vulnerable adults is of paramount importance to the new Government. However, it is also vital that we take a measured approach in these matters. We've listened to the criticisms and will respond
with a scheme that has been fundamentally remodelled. Vulnerable groups must be properly protected in a way that is proportionate and sensible.''
Tim Loughton, the children's minister, will say he was worried that the scheme would
have driven a wedge between children and well-meaning adults, including people coming forward to volunteer with young people : Such individuals should be welcomed, encouraged, and helped as much as possible, unless it can be shown that children
would not be safe in their care.
Civil liberties campaigners welcomed the news. Dylan Sharpe, the Campaign Director for Big Brother Watch, said: While the new Government's tackling of vetting and barring is welcome, this cannot be just a
When I became a bishop, I had to fill in a form to say I hadn't been charged with any relevant offences.
This was sent to a central department to be checked and verified. (Sometimes, the computer
the Home Office uses can't cope with the flood, and parish appointments are held up for weeks or months. Also, the CRB staff sometimes misread the forms and send them back for more unnecessary information.)
after I arrived in the diocese, I was asked to be patron of a local inter-church youth organisation. This meant I had to fill in another form and be checked again.
And then, when I was invited to speak at a youth rally
elsewhere in the country, I had to do the same once more. And because I'm a governor of a school, I had to do yet another.
This is just my own local version of the disease which has gripped us as a nation.
It crept up on us slowly, so we didn't really notice anything was wrong. But once you start checking up on everybody all the time, where do you stop?
As many as 4million volunteers have been forced to undergo Criminal Records Bureau checks over the past decade, according to a new report, but many are giving up on their roles because of the red tape involved and the feeling that they are under
People who devoted their spare time to helping out in their communities say they found the vetting process thorough insulting while the bureaucracy it entails creates a burden and a bore .
Even people who sell
tickets to a botanic garden or offer to write a local newsletter have been told that they must have their backgrounds checked in case they pose a risk to children.
Some children are being prevented from joining Cub packs and Scout troops until
their parents have been vetted, while schools are forcing visitors to wear badges displaying their CRB numbers and making teachers accompany them to the lavatory.
The flower guild at Gloucester Cathedral, who make arrangements before services,
were told they had to be vetted to prevent paedophiles infiltrating their group, and in case they used the same lavatories as choirboys. Five members have already resigned while a further 20 are threatening to do so.
Since 2002 the CRB, an agency
of the Home Office, has carried out 20m detailed background checks on those who work regularly with children or vulnerable adults. Its Enhanced Checks look for convictions or cautions as well as unproven allegations held on file by police.
Although volunteers themselves do not pay to be vetted, their organisations must pay a £20 administration fee while the rest of the cost is borne by CRB checks paid for by companies and public sector bodies.
The new report, Volunteering Made Difficult , discloses that 3.87m volunteers have been vetted over the past eight years – a fifth of the total. A further 2m are likely to have to sign up when the Government's new vetting and barring
scheme, now on hold pending a review, comes into force.
Josie Appleton of The Manifesto Club, the civil liberties group that compiled the new report, said: The regulation pressed on volunteers is completely out of proportion with the everyday
nature of their activities - after all, they are just listening to children read or doing the crosswords with elderly people.
A school turned a father away from his son's first sports day after banning parents who have not been checked by police from mixing with pupils.
The taxi driver had gone to watch his son, a year seven pupil, compete in sprints and egg-and-spoon
But teachers refused to let him spectate because they did not believe he had undergone checks by the Criminal Records Bureau.
De Lisle Catholic Science school in Loughborough has a policy which says that any parent who has not passed
the checks is banned from attending events in which pupils take part.
The father told a Talksport radio programme: I couldn't believe it when they told me I wasn't allowed in because I didn't have the relevant CRB checks. I'd called the school
that morning to ask if it would be OK if I came along and they said it would be no problem. But when I got to the school the assistant head teacher said that as I hadn't had a CRB check then I couldn't watch.
I'm a taxi driver and I have to
have regular CRB checks as part of my licence. I've never had any trouble.
What is the world coming to when parents can't watch their own kids take part in what is a big day in their young lives? I'm all for protecting kids, but surely
there has to be a place for common sense.
The school said in a statement: We fully appreciate that one parent was upset by our policy regarding the attendance of parents at sports days.
A spokesman for Leicestershire County
Council told Talksport: Parents should have access to school activities. We certainly do not issue any guidance to say parents should have a CRB check to attend school sports days. The day-to-day running of the school is a matter for the school and
its governors, but we are contacting the school to discuss their policy with them.
CRB vetting? Best thing that ever happened to this country
Last January, Annabel Hayter, chairwoman of Gloucester Cathedral Flower Guild, received an email saying that she and her 60 fellow flower arrangers would have to undergo a CRB check. CRB stands for Criminal Records Bureau, and a
CRB check is a time-consuming, sometimes expensive, pretty much always pointless vetting procedure that you must go through if you work with children or vulnerable adults .
The cathedral authorities expected no
resistance. Though the increasing demand for ever tighter safety regulation has become one of the biggest blights on Britain today, we are all strangely supine: frightened not to comply. Not so Annabel Hayter. I am not going to do it, she said.
And her act of rebellion sparked a mini-revolution among the other cathedral flower ladies.
The Home Office will, from 1 October, begin the process of correcting an anomaly in the criminal records system which has for decades seen gay men unfairly stigmatised.
Anyone with a historic conviction, caution, warning or reprimand for
consensual gay sex, that meets the conditions laid down in the new Protection of Freedoms Act, will be encouraged to come forward and apply to have these records deleted or disregarded.
Until now, people wishing to volunteer or work in roles that
require criminal records checks have been discouraged from doing so, for fear of having to disclose offences which have long since been decriminalised.
These changes mean that, after a successful application, this information no longer needs to be
disclosed on a criminal records certificate and those individuals who may have been inhibited from volunteering or seeking new work will now find that inhibition removed.
The change was made under the Protection of Freedoms Act, which received
royal assent on 1 May 2012. The Home Office is working closely with the Courts and Tribunals Service, and the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Ministry of Defence to run the application process. A dedicated team of caseworkers will consider
each case and make recommendations to the Home Secretary who will have the final decision.
Successful applicants will have their records updated so the offence will no longer appear on a criminal records certificate or be referred to in any future
From 1st October anyone with a historic conviction for certain decriminalised consensual sex offences can apply to have these records deleted.
Until now, people wishing to work in roles that require background checks have been discouraged from doing so for fear of having to disclose offences which have long since been decriminalised.
The change was made in the Protection of Freedoms Act, which received royal assent on 1 May 2012.
You can apply on the Home Website by filling out the following online form.
The Home Office will
then work with the Courts, Tribunals Service and Association of Chief Police Officers. A dedicated team of caseworkers will consider each case and make recommendations to the Home Secretary who will have the final decision.
will have their records updated so the offence will no longer appear on a criminal records certificate or be referred to in any future court proceedings.
Growing numbers of people are being turned down for jobs and university places because they accepted police cautions for minor offences. Cautions showed up on 153,000 Criminal Records Bureau checks last