Headlines: September 9th, 2002

Top management support has been brought in to help the Criminal Records Bureau on the road to recovery.Three senior independent figures, who have experience of operations similar to CRB, have been asked to take a fundamental look at the strategy and operations of the business. They will provide the Home Secretary with their initial views as early as next week.

Problems with CRB have come to a head due to delays in new teachers being cleared to work with children, but delays have been mounting for months and are causing staffing difficulties for other sectors, such as social services.

It will be the job of the new team to identify what steps need to be taken to ensure that the CRB delivers its twin objectives of providing greater protection for children and vulnerable adults whilst ensuring that the process does not act as a bar to speedy recruitment. They will also have a continuing role in overseeing improvements to the service.

The officials called in are Patrick Carter, used successfully by Government on a number of high profile, difficult, commercial projects
and bringing extensive expertise on relations with private sector partners, John Holden, a Non-Executive Director of the Passports and Records Agency and previously Chief Executive of Companies House, and Ron Skelly, a consultant working with the Office of Government Commerce.

The Government has promised that the three will not be conducting an inquest into the events of the last few weeks, but focusing on what needs to be done to ensure the medium and long term success of the service.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has already criticised the ‘incompetence of the private sector contractor’ Capita, in delivering the CRB service, and say that it illustrates the problems of involving for-profit companies in running public services.