As of 1 December 2012 the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) as we know it will be a thing of the past, as it merges with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) to form the all new Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
The creation of the DBS comes as a direct result of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, which for the first time established a joint service to combine both the criminal records and barring functions.
Despite the merger of the two independent organisations, the delivery of the service currently provided by the CRB will not be altered by the merger. The CRB are keen to reassure their customers that business will continue as normal during this transition.
For the main, the transition will be an exercise in rebranding, with few physical changes to the infrastructure of either the CRB or the ISA. There will of course be a new DBS logo, along with minor changes to the application form and the clearance certificate customers receive. The website will also receive a slight revamp, with a change to some of the language used both on and offsite.
If you require any further information about the forthcoming changes then the Criminal Records Bureau section of the Home Office’s official website will keep you up to date with everything you need to know.
Alternatively, here at CB Screening we aim to keep you fully informed of any changes you should be aware of, so check in at our regularly updated blog for all the latest developments.
The rules regarding CRB checks have changed in regard to financial and legal positions. The Financial Services Authority (FSA) or someone working on their behalf is now permitted to acquire a Standard CRB checks on individuals who apply to carry out the business of a Payment Institution. If you are unfamiliar with the term Payment Institution, they are a new type of payment service which was formed out of the Services Regulations 2009, and provide services for individuals such as remitting money from the UK to other countries and credit payment and direct debit services.
The new Payment Institutions are to be regulated by the FSA, with part of their remit to include an assessment of whether individuals that wish to provide such services are fit to do so. An important element of this assessment will take the form of standard CRB checks. The positions involved in payment institutions which fall under this remit, include:
- Directors and managers
- Holders of qualifying holdings
- Those responsible for the management and control of payment institutions
Part 5 of the Legal Services Act which came into fruition back in 2007 created new firms which could provide legal and non-legal services known as alternative business structures.
Within these new firms a number of certain statutory positions have been created, known as the ‘Head of Legal Practice’ and the ‘Head of Finance and Administration’. These positions are responsible for the firm’s compliance with relevant regulations.
Those individuals who hold a restricted interest in such firms are by virtue of their chare interest or voting rights for example, will be subject to a statutory ‘fit and proper person’ test which will include standard CRB checks to determine the presence of prior convictions or cautions.
The second and final stage of the Criminal Records Regime review has been completed and submitted to Ministers. The second phase of the review focuses on how criminality information is stored and shared and makes a number of recommendations relating to the administration of criminal records. One such recommendation is that the Police National Computer (PNC) should continue to be the central repository for criminal records for the foreseeable future.
Government response to the review
The Government has responded positively to the vast majority of the recommendations made. Its formal response sets out which of the recommendations made are now before Parliament in the Protection of Freedoms Bill.
The Bill contains proposals including:
- Strengthening the test of relevance applied by a chief officer;
- Ceasing CRB checks on under 16s;
- Issuing the certificate to the applicant only to allow them the opportunity to review any information included prior before the CRB check certificate is shown to the employer, and introducing a new provision to allow the applicant to request a review of information released by a chief officer;
- The implementation of online status checks, enabling certificates to be reused for different employers across the same sector, instead of requesting a new certificate every time applicants apply for a new role.
In addition the Government will uphold arrangements for holding criminal records on the Police National Computer, in a bid to ensure that security controls on accessing records are strong.
The Protection of Freedoms Bill is currently working its way through parliament and has reached the penultimate stage before it comes to fruition. The bill is multi-faceted and includes provision to reform both the Barring Scheme and the Criminal Records Regime.
Before the Report Stage could commence, a Marshalled List was published, which grouped together the subjects put forward in the bill, enabling a more efficient examination of the Bill to take place and to allow Members of the Lords to give each element sufficient consideration.
If the Bill is to be amended at this Report Stage it will need to be reprinted in its entirety. Once this has taken place it will be read and debated in the House of Lords for the final time before moving back to the House of Commons where MPs will be free to consider any amendments the Lords have made.
Once the Bill has been passed by both the House of Lords and House of Commons, the Bill will then receive Royal Assent and will come into being sometime in May.
The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) is soon to be launching a new online status checking service for employers. The service will be used to vet potential employees and verify that they have CRB clearance for certain jobs. Part of the CRB process requires people to request a new certificate when applying for a new job, but the online system will save them from this process and make checks easier for employers. CRB checks are in place to validate those working with vulnerable people and are required for anybody working with children, disabled people, and other similar roles.
Lynne Featherstone, the criminal information minister, announced the new system amongst other new measures. These measures are to be introduced following a review carried out by the Government’s independent advisor Sunita Mason. In a statement made to Parliament, Featherstone said that the introduction of the online service would reduce the amount of paperwork and bureaucracy in many CRB processes.
Featherstone said "We have included a provision to make the CRB process less burdensome on all concerned by introducing a new, online status checking capability that will in effect mean individuals can re-use their certificates for different employers across the same workforce and so will no longer need to apply for a new certificate every time they want to take up a new role," she said. "This will have a positive impact on business, making it significantly easier for employers to take on staff in relevant sectors."
A Home Office spokesman was unable at this time to offer any further information about the way the system would work.
Other features of the Protection of Freedoms bill are listed below:
- Ensuring that only accurate and relevant personal data will ever be disclosed by the police.
- Applicants will have the opportunity to review their personal data and if necessary, dispute any information held about them by the police before it is disclosed to a potential employer
- Significantly reducing the range of ‘regulated activity’ from which people could be barred.
The Government did not accept Mason’s request for a significant reduction in the number of individuals eligible for checks.
An announcement has also been made by the Home Office stating that the Government will continue to maintain the current agreements for holding criminal records on the police national computer. They would also ensure that sufficiently strong controls were in place for accessing these records.
CBS expect to receive further information regarding processes and the practical effects it will bring to those who access the CRB Disclosure Service. As always, CBS provide first line customer support to all clients regarding regulatory and legislative advice and would be pleased to discuss this in greater detail on request.