HC Deb 14 May 2002 vol 385 cc604-5W
Mr. Simon Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether the Criminal Records Bureau has carried out a mapping exercise to identify whether the system of disclosures for voluntary organisations and volunteers has full national coverage; [517981

(2) whether an open umbrella group which is registered with the Criminal Records Bureau is open to anyone who wants to use it; and what restrictions apply; [51789]

(3) what estimate he has made of the likely costs that will be incurred by voluntary organisations using the disclosure system of the Criminal Records Bureau as a result of charging by umbrella bodies; and if he will make a statement; [517991

(4) if he will make a statement on the position of funding for voluntary organisations to enable them to access the disclosure system of the Criminal Records Bureau; [51788]

(5) what steps he is taking to ensure that voluntary organisations who need to obtain a disclosure in respect of staff or volunteers from the Criminal Records Bureau, but cannot (a) find a suitable umbrella body and (b) afford the fee, will be able to do so.[51797]

Mr. Denham

since we announced in February last year that Standard and Enhanced Disclosures would be issued free by the Criminal Records Bureau in the case of volunteers, we have received some representations in favour of the provision of funding, principally to meet start-up expenses, and overhead costs of processing individual applications. Estimates by a number of organisations as to what such costs might be-whether the organisation would be acting on its own behalf or, as an umbrella body, countersigning applications at the request of others-have varied very considerably, depending upon a range of factors including the size of the organisation and the number of applications to be processed.

We have considered the representations very carefully but are not persuaded that it would be appropriate for Government funding to be made available for this purpose. In guidance for umbrella bodies, the bureau has urged that any charges made for providing the service should be kept to a minimum. Organisations wishing to use an umbrella body are advised to inquire about, and to compare, any such charges.

We have been determined that all those wishing to access the Criminal Records Bureau's service should have ready means of access. To assist bodies for whom registration in their own right is not appropriate, the bureau has encouraged others to register as umbrella bodies. Up to 23 April 2002, a total of 713 bodies had so registered, including 422 who are prepared to act as "open" umbrella bodies-i.e., countersign applications at the request of others outside their own circle or sector (but possibly subject to a geographical restriction stated by the umbrella body on registration). The Bureau maintains a record of umbrella bodies by geographical area, which shows that there are good numbers of such bodies in each, with the exception of mid-Wales and north Wales where numbers are lower. But organisations seeking the services of an umbrella body are not confined to their own area. Voluntary organisations needing to find an umbrella body should access the Criminal Record Bureau's website www.disclosure.gov.uk, which has an umbrella body search facility, or contact the Criminal Records Bureau direct on 0870 90 90 811. Organisations are continuing to apply for registration, and the number of umbrella bodies will increase. Officials are exploring means of developing the network further.

Back to
Forward to