Did Looser Police Checks Compromise Our Security?

It was revealed earlier this year that up to 20,000 people have slipped through the net and begun working with children and vulnerable adults without going through full security checks. Has this put people at increased risk?

Here we take a look at how this happened and share our thoughts on how we would have reacted in similar circumstances.


What Happened and Why?

The Metropolitan police relaxed its vetting system in 2016 amid criticism over delays. A backlog of checks at the time meant that a number of key professionals, such as teachers and nurses, were unable to work for months on end.

Since the change, up to 20,000 people have been issued with DBS certificates without full security checks. But according to documents leaked to the Sunday Times, the police temporarily dropped checks on police intelligence databases and used information on the police national computer system instead. This system only held records about reprimands, warnings, criminal convictions and cautions, leading some to criticise the Metropolitan police for putting vulnerable adults in danger.

Scotland Yard denied that this relaxation has put the vulnerable at risk. In a statement it said:

“The Met rejects the suggestion that cases were improperly closed placing the most vulnerable in danger. Safeguarding is, and will always be, of paramount importance to the Met.

“In June 2016, the Met confirmed that there were over 81,000 outstanding cases with an average waiting time of 59 days. This presented risk to the most vulnerable, in that employment of key workers could be significantly delayed.

“Alternatively, an unsuitable employee could take up employment before local police checks were completed. The cause of the problem was acknowledged as a significant increase in demand for the Met disclosure service, as well as the recruitment and retention of staff.”

They have since introduced an ongoing training plan with a key focus on recruitment and productivity to help prevent a future backlog from occurring.


Did This Increase Risk to the Public?

The Met has since reassessed a sample of the cases that were closed during its ‘lax’ period and found that police intelligence would not have been used in these cases anyway. However, there is no guarantee that those not analysed would yield the same results, therefore there has been much criticism of the decision to prioritise efficiency over safeguarding.


Why is Police Intelligence Essential for Screening?

The use of police intelligence was first mandated in 2002 following the murders of 10-year-old schoolfriends Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. Their killer, Ian Huntley, had been a caretaker at a secondary school who, despite having no convictions for sexual offences before he was appointed, had been reported to police on six occasions for sexual assaults or sexual relationships with underage girls. Previous police checks did not uncover his past, therefore there were calls for change.

It is this case which many critics fear could have been let happen again. Furthermore, the DBS did not inform any of its customers that the screening process had been changed.


How Do CBS Tackle High Demand for DBS Checks?

Here at CBS, we understand why the decision was made, but believe an alternative solution may have been a better answer to the backlog.
For example, we’re specialists in completing DBS checks in their thousands. We do this using our online eBulk system which provides a management solution for submission of multiple applications with ease. Available 24/7 from any location, as long as you have internet access, it has been tested and approved by the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office, and DBS.

A state-of-the-art, scalable system could have allowed for an increase in applications and would ensure this problem does not occur in future should demand rise again.

Of course, it is not just bulk checks from large organisations that can cause an influx of security checks.

Whether you need five DBS checks or five hundred, we ensure our clients have the most up-to-date information possible and maintain safeguarding standards by encouraging sign-ups to our update service. Our update service keeps criminal records constantly up-to-date, meaning if a person’s details change, their employer will be notified.

This is done through regular checks which have proven invaluable to many of our customers, not only for its safeguarding qualities but the fact it makes applications every few years redundant.

We’re proud to say, we’re the only organisation in the UK that can offer this innovative service!


Screen Your Staff with CBS

If you require in-depth background screening for your staff, including checks against police records, our Enhanced DBS criminal disclosure service could help.

You can learn more about us on our site or get in touch to discuss your specific needs with one of our friendly and knowledgeable team.

enhanced criminal check

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