Checks are currently done via local police forces but from March 1 2002 this facility will largely cease and access to criminal record information will only be available through the disclosure service operated by the CRB. Of those organisations currently using police checking methods, just over 50% have yet to complete and return their registration application forms to the CRB. Bernard Herdan, chief executive of the CRB, is keen to urge the remainder to register before the end of the year.
Disclosure will permit checks to be carried out on a much wider scale than current provisions allow and enable employers in the public, private and voluntary sectors to identify people who may be unsuitable to work in certain professions, particularly those involving contact with children or vulnerable adults.
Once registered, professional bodies will be able to ask successful job applicants to apply for one of three types of disclosure - enhanced, standard or basic - if the position requires that such a check is necessary. For someone to receive a standard or enhanced disclosure, their application must be countersigned by a registered body and organisations likely to ask exempted questions under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act Exceptions Order (ROA) must apply to the CRB for registered body status.
Registered bodies will play a key role in helping to make the system work effectively. The information supplied in a disclosure may be sensitive and it is essential that it is handled correctly. To ensure that all Disclosure information provided is treated confidentially and fairly by an employer, the CRB has published a Code of Practice that all registered bodies must comply with.
Organisations wishing to apply for registration should contact the CRB registration line on 0870 90 90 822. Further information is available from the CRB information line on 0870 90 90 811 or by logging on here.
Enhanced disclosure - the highest level of check principally available to anyone involved in regularly caring for, training, supervising or being in sole charge of children or vulnerable adults. Enhanced disclosure will show current and spent convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings, as well as other relevant information held by local police forces. If the post involves working with children, lists held by the DH and DfES will also be checked for those considered unsuitable to work with children.
Standard disclosure - available for jobs that involve working with children and vulnerable adults, as well as certain occupations and professions. This check will show the same information as the enhanced disclosure, but without local police force information.
Basic disclosure will be available from summer 2002 and will only show current convictions.
Disclosures will cost£12, but enhanced and standard disclosures will be free to volunteers. They can be requested in circumstances in which employers or voluntary organisations are entitled to ask exempted questions under the Exceptions Order to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This includes any organisation whose duties involve staff having regular contact with children or vulnerable adults.
The Code of Practice was published on 26 April, and laid before parliament on the same day.